My folks were full of the fear of God, And full of His holy gravity. Music, and dancing, were frivolous wastes And bywords for depravity. And birthdays passed with nary a mention So’s not to lead our thoughts astray – But I was still the lucky one, For I was born on Christmas Day.
I was born in the dark of Winter, In the midst of an Almighty freeze Too far North for much of sunlight, Too bleak for that many trees. But ev’ry year, the town would string up lights As if to lead my way, And hope that it might snow for me – For I was born on Christmas Day.
Ev’rybody wore a smile, And nobody wore grey – Ev’rything was done with style, Right through to Hogmanay ! And my fav’rite animal, the deer, Were ev’rywhere, with a sleigh ! How much I loved this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
I was born in ignorance, And thought all this must be for me – The whole of the town would celebrate That time I changed from two to three, They cheered some more when I turned four, At five and six, they cried hooray – My parents couldn’t stop it all, For I was born on Christmas Day.
They may not have given me presents, But they gave me the greatest gift on Earth – I used to think how lucky Jesus was To coincide with my birth. And piously, I’d thank the Lord For far more joy than words can say. And so I grew up loving life – For I was born on Christmas Day
The choirs would sing, The bands would play, The bells would ring, The shops display, And all the world felt good and near, In one long cabaret – How much I love this time of year, To be born on Christmas Day !
My feet were frozen, but for you, Who sheathed them safe in cotton. My toes would wriggle, all day through, My nails were chipped and rotten. My shins lacked spots beneath my trews, I couldn’t slide on wooden floors, My feet were too-small for my shoes, And empty was my chest of drawers, But you have given me a lift, I’m walking taller, free of holes – All thanks to your so-thoughtful gift, That sweetly saves my soles.
I love to grab a handful of holly-leaves, Pale and tender in the Spring, Before they’ve darkened, hardened, sharpened, Tanned their leather good and bent. I love to hug a branchful of holly-sheaves, Ere each shoot has gained its sting – To shakes its hand with good intent, To thank it for last Yule well-spent.
This year is the best year that I’ve ever had, And last year, that year was the best year too, But this year is a better year than that, And next year will be such a ballyhoo ! Sure, there’s always bad stuff comes my way, But what’s the use of crying useless tears ? I guess there must be slow and washed-out days, But they’re always nestled in the sunny years. And if I tell myself each morning, Working up my derring-do With not a trace of snark or scorn, I maybe can convince me that it’s true. This year is the best year that I’ve ever had, For if it’s not, then I must make it so. I know, I know, it’s hard to shrug the bad, But bad or good, the years still come and go.
Looks like we’re on our own this year, Just us and a million others, The eccentric and the volunteers, Cut off from our human brothers. Some in Antarctica, some in their cells, And some in their quarantine – In one-bed flats and empty hotels, With the world reached through a screen. For the rest of the year, there’s nothing wrong with it, It suits us fine, or we make the best, But when the world gets the holiday spirit, Then we’re suddenly nobody’s guest. Looks like we’re on our own this year, Remote from the thoroughfares. Let’s sing like nobody can hear, And let others fill our empty chairs.
When we were young, before we earned a good wage, Then presents were the thing. Whatever toy was all the rage, We’d write to Santa, page by page, While fully knowing, any age, That parents were the ones who gave the bling.
When we were young, and hoping for the good stuff, Then presents were the thing. We dropped our hints, we played it tough, We wanted this, and sure enough, They’d always get us something duff, From parents clutching hard to apron string.
When we were young, and pocket money spent fast, Then presents were the thing. We’d waited long these six months past, Our only chance was here at last – But no ! Once more we were harassed By suitable and sensible and bettering !
When we were young…but now we’re good and older, And presents are a chore. We pay our own way, we are bolder, We don’t need a toothbrush-holder. What we need’s a crying-shoulder, Not the same old ritual as before.
Now we are old, we buy throughout the year, Yet presents still want more ! What can you get me ? Dear oh dear, I have all that I need right here. Should I hold off acquiring gear To add it to a list you’ll just ignore ?
Now we are old, and hopefully we’re wise, And presents lurk in drawers. Let’s be honest, compromise, And save our gifts for the little guys – Let’s pay it forward, share the prize – Even though we’ll get it wrong, of course…
As the son of a dairy herd, My father told me secret words – On Christmas Eve, between ourselves , Our cattle knelt at the stroke of Twelve. “Can I see it ?” “No, too late, You’ll have to grow up first and wait. Let’s tuck you up, like the hens and geese, And leave the girls to kneel in peace.” But unlike Thomas Hardy, I Was not prepared to pass it by, And woke by chance at seven-to When bursting for the landing loo. But having dealt with that, I said “How can I just return to bed ? This is my chance – I have to go, Or else I know I’ll never know !” I crept downstairs, across the floor, To don my peacoat by the door. I left my slippers on my feet For I had destiny to meet !, Not a second’s hesitation Could be wasted with a lace-on. Lift the latch and out we go, Crunching softly through the snow, (Despite that day’s half-hearted thaw), To squelch across the muck and straw That filled the barn, those bovine halls, And peeked into the Winter stalls (And now I wish I’d worn my wellies) – No ! They’re all led on their bellies ! Some had rolled onto their flanks, And none had tucked beneath their shanks, And all their heads were on the boards, And none kept vigil for the Lord. Our ev’ry beast was heathen-born !, From Hyacinth to Meadowcorn, And Daisy, Rose, and Honeydew, They each and all just slept on through ! And shame the most for Buttercup Who did her sleeping standing up ! So distraught was I, so dead, I didn’t hear my father’s tread Until his hand was on my shoulder, “Seems tonight you’re growing older. I suppose I set this up, But never thought my little pup Would take my story at my word – It’s passed down with the family herd.” I tried to scream, I tried to cry But all that left my lips was “Why ?” “If you want to ask me that, It’s too late for a lengthy chat – So I will only answer once, Then off to bed and no more stunts.” “Then…then…I want to ask How deep is worn this parents’ mask ? Are all the rest a lie as well – Like Santa, Jesus, Tinkerbell ?” “Fair enough, the answer’s Yes.” “For which ?” I blurted in distress, But he just smiled, and shook his head, And carried me upstairs to bed.
Ev’rybody, listen well, It’s time to let the tellers tell – It’s time to tally, toll, and tot, To work out how much folks we’ve got. Ev’rybody, near and far, We need to count you where you are. Don’t move about, don’t clog the roads, We need you logged in your abodes. Get off those donkeys ! Park those asses ! Stop this movement of the masses ! We don’t care whose tribe is yours, Your genealogies are bores ! Whatever heritage you claim, You know, we’ll tax you just the same. So you’re descended down from David, Centuries years ago, hey kid ? But so is half the town, no doubt – You are aware he got about ? Ah well, I guess you’ve made it now, Let’s have your data anyhow –
You say you are a carpenter, And also you’re…a harbinger…? So would you be, may I enquire, Yet another Lord Messiah ? Oh, your son, you claim, not you ? I’ll put you down as Number II. But wait…I hear upon your tongue An accent…are you further-flung ?, A shibboleth upon your breath – You say you hail from…Nazareth ? You mean you live in Galilee ? Then why, by Jupiter, tell me ? Why can you Northerners not grasp, You pay your tax to Antipas ? Well yes, they all reach Rome, each load, But travel by a diff’rent road. Now please, go home !, our time is done, Now live your life and raise your son – But give to Caesar, nonetheless… So Hermes-speed, and Juno-bless.
Ev’ry year, they foist an austerity tree upon Trafalgar Square – Begrudgingly, they hoist it up with as few fairy lights as they can Just straight-up-and-down, with no helter-skelter, or swags, or laissez-faire, And only white, as if other colours fall foul of a bureaucrat’s ban. It looks a bit like a deep-sea comb-jelly, wilting embarrassed under our gaze. It even makes the Fourth Plinth look impressive – now there’s a paradox ! Haven’t we any goddam civic pride, or is that taboo these days ? Honestly, Oslo, we treat your heartfelt gift like a packet of socks. Thus the status quo avoids the threat of tinsel, and regulates ev’ry star, So the branches are bare of baubles, and of candy canes there are none. I guess it can’t outshine old Nelson, we need to remember who we are – For we are stoic, joyless Brits, and we mustn’t have too much fun.
As to how come there’s a tree in the Square at all, see here.