Is it just me? Invariably, I have relished Christmastime. It has been a time for family, for taking stock, for feasting, marking the end of one year and the coming of another one. Usually, I feel optimistic at this time of year as we all flip to a fresh new page. However, as 2011 makes way for 2012, I can't help feeling somehow despondent. The News is imbued with gloom and doom. The economies of the western world are in crisis. So many talented young people can't even get on the first rung of the jobs ladder while many businesses are retracting. Meantime, ignoble politicians continue to live the life of Riley - second homes, business lunches, fat pensions and over-generous expenses - their skins as thick and leathery as leather backed turtles, their egos as inflated as blimps.
I remember all those Christmases of the past. My brothers. My parents. When the children were little. Winters without central heating. Nana Morris and Jock. Figgy pudding and home-made chestnut stuffing. Mince pies and tinsel. The pine forest scent of Christmas trees. Midnight services we attended just to sing carols. That crisp December air. Walking gingerly on iced pavements. Our Lord Emmanuel. Those walks upon Stanage Edge as the turkey slowly roasted back home in the old gas oven. Yes. A time to take stock. To remember and then to move on.
But next year. What lies ahead? The Arab world remains in the turmoil of political change. Hideous military adventures in Afghanistan continue unabated. The natural world keeps screaming for help as the human population mushrooms. Working people are squeezed ever more as cruel whispers spread that those who simply can't find work only have themselves to blame. Through television and other media we are bombarded with a new religion - The Cult of Celebrity - as those of us who are not celebrities struggle through the mud of our countless inadequacies. And there are automated cold callers on the telephone.
Blogland will not come a moment too soon. "There's a place far away they call the promised land..." On New Year's Eve, Shirley and I will be jetting there to check the progress of developments. Cynics please note that we have paid for this trip with our own hard-earned money. I will endeavour to keep you informed about what's happening in the infant nation but please understand that full internet facilities are not yet established.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas and let's hope that 2012 turns out to be better than its angels herald.