We are now in the second week of Advent and Christmas is looming fast. I like Advent – at least I like Advent in theory, if not in practice. I wish time would go a little slower so that I could fit in all the Christmas preparations and still have opportunity for quiet reflection. i wish to appreciate and enjoy anticipating Christmas.
There used to be a children’s programme on TV when both my girls were younger called ‘Bernard’s Watch’ in which a boy called Bernard had a special watch that could halt time, stopping everyone in their tracks, while Bernard rushed about trying to catch up and put things right. I want Bernard’s watch!
Unfortunately, this time of year is so full of doctor’s and hospital appointments, check-ups at the optician and dentist, visits to relatives, trying to remember last postal dates and ordering of meat and wreaths, that the really nice bits are side-lined and fitted-in to our schedule almost as an after-thought.
At home we make an Advent Crown with evergreen and candles, we have an Advent Candle and Advent Calendars.
While E and I make the Crown and also a table-centre decoration as well, it is traditional for us to play an ancient tape that we have had since my eldest daughter was little. It is the most horrible of tapes with what my daughters describe as ‘cheesy’ Christmas songs on it. If R is around he complains very loudly when we put the ‘music’ on but I don’t think Advent Sunday would be half as much fun without it.
The Sunday before last (30th November) was Advent Sunday so the day before that, R and I went to Rumburgh Church to make sure all was tidy and in order and to put the church Advent Crown together. There are plenty of evergreen trees and plants in the churchyard so I gathered a selection of good looking cuttings and arranged them as best I could around the candle holder.
While I was wandering about the churchyard looking for greenery I saw this…
I also saw this…
We have no church services at Rumburgh for the whole of the Advent and Christmas period this year but we do have a couple of carol services, the first of which was last Sunday, 7th December.
We had travelled up to Manchester on Saturday 6th December so that we could visit my in-laws. R had driven up from Gloucestershire in the West Country where he had been working and E and I had gone on the train from home. Because of the new franchise there is no longer a direct train route to Manchester from East Anglia. The quickest and cheapest route was to travel south to London, cross the city from Liverpool Street Station to Euston Station and then take the pendolino train north to Manchester from there. My poor mother-in-law is still very unwell but has left hospital and is now in a respite care-home for a few weeks. Since moving to the care home she has caught a chest infection which has added to the problems she has with breathing because of a faulty valve in her heart. She also fell and broke her thumb so has her hand in a plaster cast. We stayed with her for about half an hour at most and then left when we saw that she was tiring. We then drove to a restaurant and met my brother-in-law and his partner, his son and his partner and their two-year-old daughter and had a meal together. R’s nephew, nephew’s partner and daughter had all had the chesty cough and cold but my brother-in-law was still suffering with it and we have since heard that his partner has become ill with it. This does not bode well for us! We returned to our very basic hotel and had a restless night before driving home on Sunday morning. We set off shortly after 9.00 am and got back home just after 2.00 pm. We had a short rest before going to the church to get it ready for the carol service.
There are many candles to be lit and the mince pies and mulled wine to set out before the congregation start to arrive.
This service is called Carols and Capers and is organised by our local folk groups and Morris dancers. (A caper is a skip or jump and is used in Morris dancing). Unfortunately, this year we didn’t have as many people in the church as in past years, probably because of a number of other events going on in the area. I usually make my own mince pies to bring to the service but I had been much too busy and so I brought bought ones.
The service went very well with a mixture of communal unaccompanied carol singing, dancing, solo singing, recitation and instrumental music. Three of us from church were asked to do some readings from the Nativity Story and the Rector gave us a Bidding-prayer at the beginning, an amusing talk on ‘Christmas Words’ and sent us home with a Blessing.
A most enjoyable evening rounded of with the mince pies and mulled wine and lots of talk! Our next carol Service is on Saturday 20th December.