Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas thoughts through the ages.

I have been reading the thoughts of others on Christmas Day - they conjure up such lovely images I thought I would share some of them with you:-

The first is from the diary of Frances Kilvert in 1870:

Sunday - Christmas Day. As I lay awake praying in the early morning I thought I heard the sound of distant bells. It was an intense frost. I sat down in my bath upon a sheet of thick ice which broke in the middle into large pieces while sharp points and jagged edges stuck all around the sides of the tub like cheveux de frise, not particularly comforting to the naked thighs and loins.
I had to collect the floating pieces of ice and pile them on a chair before I could use the sponge.
The morning was most brilliant. I walked to Sunday school with Gibbins and the road sparkled with a million rainbows. The church was very cold in spite of two roaring fires.

(Sad that this lovely young man, with such an eye for the girls, died young - just as he was to embark upon a happy life).

Now from the diary of Daphne du Maurier when she was an old lady and lived at home alone in her house Menabilly:

It is so queer having no one down here for Christmas. I have not done my routine decorating, but have put all my cards around, and have lovely flowers everywhere, and an arrangement of holly on the centre table in the Long Room, and so it all looks very cheerful. If I thought about it too deeply, I might be rather sad, but I don't. I think the thing is always to look ahead in life and never look back; except in gratitude.

And finally from the diary of Stephen Spender, who was in Jerusalem for the Nativity. The year is 1974.

After dinner, to the Church of the Nativity, for Midnight Mass. The Church is large and bare, the Mass was intoned in Latin, with some dignity. The most beautiful part of the evening was after we left the service and walked back along the road the two miles to Rebecca's well, where our car was parked. We heard, from that distance across the valley dividing us from Bethlehem,
the voices from the Church still singing, which the cold night air seemed to purify of raggedness and wrong notes, so that coming from the hill above us, they seemed those of a heavenly choir.

I wonder how safe it is these days to walk those two miles in that terribly divided country.

Enjoy these few days before Christmas.


Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks for sharing these different perspectives of Christmases gone by! I wouldn't fancy the frozen bath!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas!

Gwil W said...

That first is a wake up call. I remember reading of markets held on the frozen Thames. Imagine that today.

CHummelKornell said...

What a wonderful way to approach Christmas. I am a huge fan of du
Maurier and was surprised that the autumn of her life would have been spent alone. Such a wonderful talent she was.

Anonymous said...

The ice in the bath reminds me of my Welsh childhood when my hot-water bottle froze at the bottom of my bed. Chilly stuff.

Elizabeth said...

To break the ice to have a bath. Gosh!
I would love to go to the Holy Land ( as it was called in my childhood) but am so sad that it can't be celebrated and enjoyed peacefully by followers of all three Mosaic faiths.
Christmas in Morocco was such fun. All our Muslim friends wanted to help decorate our tree and we got cool ram brochettes at Eid.
Here's to friendships without borders!

MorningAJ said...

That cold bath sounds awful!

EB said...

What a beautiful selection, thank you. Funny how, though clearly the bath was bad even to him, it being plain cold was normal - interesting what we get used to. Kilvert's diary is one of my favourite books.

Unknown said...

Allways a delight to read ... you always find something interesting and give us a slightly different slant on the norm... thankyou.
I too was surprised to haer du Maurier was alone in her old age, I would imagine her having crowds of friends.

Festive Felicitations.

Vicky x

Unknown said...

Lovely snapshots into Christmas past... The quote from Daphne reminds me of us this Christmas. Both our families live in different countries and aren't able to make it but fortunately we're having friends over to celebrate. And I've also been terrible with decorations this year - but just like Daphne I've got some holly decorating the table :)

George said...

These are lovely remembrances, Pat. Thanks for sharing them. As for the first, the one from 1870, I first thought of how wonderful it would have been to live in a time when one could hear sleigh bells on Christmas morning. When I read about the poor fellow's bath, however, I was quite pleased to live in the current era. No wonder he died young! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Hildred said...

" I think the thing is always to look ahead in life and never look back; except in gratitude."

Inspiring words as life's circle closes.

Cloudia said...

a lovely meditation on Christmas-
and on being human

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Pondside said...

Three such different views of Christmas across the centuries. Just the thought of that bath....

Dave King said...

A truly brilliant collection. Thanks for posting them.
All the blessings of the season to you and yours.

The Solitary Walker said...

I love Kilvert's diary.

Merry Christmas, Pat, to you and the Farmer, from all of us here.

Heather said...

Three very different glimpses of other Christmases and very thought provoking. I am looking forward to a nice warm bath - softie that I am!
Have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year.