EACH year TCW Defending Freedom invites one of the leaders of the main political parties to contribute an article outlining his/her/their/zie/xyr Christmas Day. This year it is the turn of the Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party.
WOW! Christmas, an important day for many people across the UK as well as overseas. A day for celebration, but for me a day of reflection, renewal and ritual.
Growing up, I vividly recall my father teasing me that Santa Claus would only leave me a solitary lump of coal in my Christmas stocking had I been a naughty boy during the year. Thankfully, I never did find such a gift! Coal for us at that time was a magnificent and vital fuel. Nowadays we recognise that it is a filthy, dangerous and polluting product, contributing considerably to climate change.
Despite that, this year I felt the need to recognise this traditional myth, but also to change it somehow, showing that coal was no longer welcome in either stockings or grates.
With the family in attendance, we went into the back garden and gathered by the outdoor privy, where I placed a lump of coal on top of the cistern. This symbolised that coal was now ‘waste’. I had also prepared a small verse which I read aloud.
Farewell, King Coal,
Adieu, Old Soul,
For Heat & Light,
You were just right,
A small black lump,
You’re now a heat pump.
It was a sombre moment. We then walked to over our recently installed ‘Thunberg Unicorn Mk6’ ground source heat pump, to inaugurate a new ritual. I placed a warm, deep-filled mince pie on top of its outer casing by way of saying ‘welcome’ and ‘thank you’.
To complete the small ceremony, I played a short lament on some pan pipes, given to me a few years ago whilst on holiday in Peru.
Each Christmas at 11am, without fail, we gather in the lounge to open presents. With the house being noticeably colder lately, jumpers, scarves and hats were very much in evidence as gifts. I was thrilled to be given a sweater made from recycled plastic bags. It is incredibly warm, although it can generate a large static charge, giving rise to occasional inadvertent shock!
In the Starmer household we have a motto regarding Christmas lunch – ‘Keep it simple’!
This year was no different, the ‘four bird roast’ accompanied by tartiflette, anadarna crusted parsnips, kala jeera tossed sprouts, oyster emulsion and boltardy beetroot foam being satisfyingly unpretentious.
For me though, it is the serving of Christmas pudding that marks the point I can finally forget work for a few brief hours and concentrate on having fun. ‘Put in charge’ for dessert, I have a set routine.
Donning a battered Stetson hat, I play Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down at full volume on the stereo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYdDYSTEuWo and carry the flaming pudding to the table with the family accompanying the music by banging coconut shells together (in place of woodblocks) – it sounds daft, but it is a very special moment and makes us all laugh!
We never miss the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast and I defer to no one in my admiration for the unstinting service she has given to the nation. We stand proud for the National Anthem.
Being of a certain age, I enjoy 40 winks in the late afternoon. I find it allows me to recharge my batteries before the early evening festivities – which include charades! Despite giving away what I thought were abundantly easy clues, no one could guess the film Mission: Impossible!!
Strictly is ‘appointment to view’ television in our household. Like many people up and down the country we were cheering and ‘jazz handing’ throughout the programme. If the producers read this, yours truly is still nimble and athletic!
To round off the day I always watch the BBC News. Their authoritative, unbiased reporting is something, we as a nation, should all be extremely grateful for.
I wish TCW Defending Freedom readers a very happy new year.