Christmas is Creativity.
It is found in the story of the Nativity, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and film stories like The Polar Express.
Then there’s Christmas music. Gustav Holst’s work turns Rossetti’s poem into one of our best loved carols. Carols from Kings is a highlight of many people’s holiday viewing and to those of us of a certain age Christmas songs must include Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody and Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine. I am that certain age!
I’ve not really entered the Christmas season until I’ve baked my Christmas cake, first but definitely not last batch of mince pies, heard Cliff and listened out for Noddy Holder’s shouting “It’s Christmas” at the end of Slade’s most famous hit.
Then there’s the decorations, both those put up at home (thanks to my husband and son) and the ones I see as I walk the dog. The lights cheer me up. December is such a dark, drab month without them.
The Nativity, like any really good story, has a wide ranging plot. It is full of surprises. Nobody expects angels to turn up. I’ve never been surprised by the angel in While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night telling their audience to “Fear Not”. The shepherds would’ve needed telling (as indeed would I!). I wonder how long it took them to stop being scared but I digress…
Then there’s the joy of Jesus’s birth. Rosetti’s line of “only his mother in her maiden bliss worshipped the Beloved with a kiss” conjures up images for me of Mary soothing Jesus to sleep with a kiss, images repeated daily before and since with mothers worldwide soothing their babies. Then there’s the unexpected visitors – and who doesn’t get these at Christmas! Okay most of us don’t play host to shepherds and magi but how did Mary and Joseph feel when they turned up?
Then there’s the horror of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod followed by the relief of the Holy Family’s escape to Egypt. The Nativity stirs up the whole gamut of emotions.
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens, like Christina Rosetti and Clement Charles Moore, has the rare honour of adding something to our celebration of Christmas. It is my favourite Dickens’ novel as I love stories of redemption and a good ghost story so can’t lose here.
My favourite film adaptation is The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine as Scrooge. It is one of his finest roles (though for me nothing can beat his role in The Italian Job). It is faithful to the book and recommends viewers read the book at the end (well done, Muppets!).
It has also led to a great piece of radio comedy as the I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue team did a wonderful send up of this some years back. Well worth a listen and available on CD. Laughs guaranteed.
The Polar Express
I highly recommend this and think it one of Tom Hanks’ best roles. The animation is life like and it is one of those rare Christmas films which isn’t overly sentimental. As a result this film is suitable for a wide age range. There is a sceptical, sharp edge to it and the film leaves you wondering whether the children involved will come to believe in Father Christmas again or not (and the outcome is by no means certain).
The Night Before Christmas
A fantastic poem written by Clement Charles Moore for his children. Both the poem and the reason it was written invoke the spirit of Christmas. We know the names of Santa’s reindeer thanks to this man! What’s not to like? I find it nigh on impossible to read this poem without a smile on my face. A timeless classic.
In the Bleak Midwinter
This is one of my favourite carols. The imagery in the beautiful words always moves me. As well as the quote above, I love the ending – “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.” Christians see Jesus as God’s ultimate present to the world. This verse reminds us we can give back to God but it must be motivated by love, as Jesus himself was.
Morecambe and Wise feature heavily here. My mother insisted Christmas dinner was finished and washing up all cleared so we could sit down to watch Eric and Ernie in the days long before video recorders and where the UK’s finest comics regularly achieved audiences of over 25 million. And they are still funny.
In Christmas 2013 they were repeated in short half programmes by the BBC and still gaining the viewers. My favourite clip? The boys with Andre Previn and the Gregg Piano sequence. Previn’s look of frozen horror is comedy perfection.
You can’t beat the smell of fresh home-made mince pies, Christmas cake etc. I enjoy baking (fortunately my family enjoy what I bake!) and this is a vital part of Christmas for me.
Creativity in Christmas
Creativity is written all over Christmas. From the written word to music to comedy to home cooking! I hope everyone has a creative, peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.