Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Haul, 2006

It’s that time of year again. The turkey carcass has been bashed with a cleaver on an old wooden chopping-board, and reduced to stock in a large pan which has bubbled mysteriously on the stove for hours, releasing wonderful smells. Those smells have mingled with the smell of hot mince pies and the sweet, sharp rum butter which melts over them. You have sat down in your favourite chair by the Christmas tree, and in the warm glow of its twinkly lights you see a scrap of wrapping-paper, perhaps some gold ribbon, on the floor. The presents are all opened and you’ve been relaxing for — hopefully — days.

Now that I have, I feel able to open my eyes a little more, and think about what I’ve got rather than curl up with it and feel pure delight. In no particular order, there is a card from Jonathan, with a large snowball and two almost criminally cute kittens inside. There are a selection of books — from the world of the duel in Scotland to strange and wonderful things in the English countryside; from Joyce’s Dubliners to Donn’s poems, both editions in Folio. There are DVDs of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie doing their thing, and profoundly amazing footage of animals and plants doing theirs. There is a bottle of whisky — and another, and another, although I have claimed the last two as Christmas presents when they actually aren’t. They simply fit the mood and the season.

All these would mean very little without the tapestry of magic and homeliness around them. I walked today in cold air beneath a crisp sky, and caught a whiff of someone’s chimney on the way back. And to be able to take delight in these things, weaving them into the magic and the magic into them, and feel very good about the world, is what I’m celebrating here.

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