It's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

You can't really single out anything specific that makes a brilliant Christmas in the village. It's never like the daft songs or the hideously schmaltzy American films we are subjected to each year (how does Channel Five make any money?!) but somehow things change and we end up almost without noticing at December 24th, the panic slightly subsiding and the faint glimmer of fun appearing ever brighter in the distance.

It's not necessarily the beloved pub which has just re-opened to much exultation and displays of great joy after seven months of loss and emptiness, with a superb range of beers and wines and a rearkably wide range of people including those you wouldn't expect to see in there.

It's not necessarily the huge and delightful Christmas tree on the Green, put up at the start of December, enlightened a few days later and then subject to endless speculation about whether it is going to fall over this year in what is a very windy location - on top of a hill on the edge of a valley. 

It's not the visit to the Chinese restaurant in the village and the discovery that they have once more amended their menu to include something with turkey.  Everything else is identical but a few fowl gave their lives for this unique and thoroughly delicious Christmas flavour.  They still haven't sneaked any cranberries into the special sauce but I'm sure one day they will.

It could be the foot of snow which fell a week ago, blanketing the village, cutting us off and rendering children and wives speechless with delight for mere moments before clothes were thrown on in haste and deadly hillsides were once more hurtled down on bits of absurdly flimsy plastic.  The snow has all gone, leaving only mess and mud but it was fun while it lasted - mercifully, like a sensible relative, only staying for a few days.

It might be the steady stream of cards from friends and neighbours, most of which are met with a happy moment of recognition, others with a swear word uttered under the breath and a hurried scrabble for the spare cards.

It may even be the imperceptible reduction in traffic through the village as the farm vehicles, timber lorries, stupidly oversized 4x4s driven badly and cars driven at speed to get to work in the morning or home for the evening begin to tail off.

Perhaps it's the return of the curious sound of gunfire nearby as the game birds succumb to the greed of us humans.  Funny herald of the season of good cheer, that one but I suppose no worse than the fizz of the stun gun in the abattoir...

(Too much?)

It most definitely does have something to do with the carol concert in the freezing church, although the village doesn't do such events as you might expect them to be, going through the carol sheet from 1 to 99, oh no.  This one included how to ride a sledge, 'While Shepherds Washed...' to the tune of  'On Ilkley Moor sans headgear', some old testament rhyming of the most earnest kind and one or two chilly renditions of favourites including those gift-soaked 'Twelve Days'.  The mulled wine definitely helped the singing, acting as both a lubricant and an antifreeze.

Whatever it is, it's here again and most welcome it is. I've got a list of jobs as big as a Brexiteer's illusions, a mountain of presents to wrap, the decorations still to do and about 3,000 boxes to fit into a tiny loft but somehow it will happen.  I don't know how but the achievement of some sense of order by midnight on the 24th makes you believe in Father Christmas.

Not that I ever didn't, you understand. That would just be silly.

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