The title for this week’s post comes from the old Christmas Carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen of course and the moment I hear it or sing it, I automatically think of Dickens (and from there to his wonderful story, A Christmas Carol).
I’m not going to quote the full lyrics here (do see the wonderful Classic FM link for that and a video of the carol being sung) but Verse 1 reads:-
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.
Now I don’t know about you but I think we are definitely down on the tidings of comfort and joy front in 2020! If there was a measuring device relating the good news factor for any one year, 2020 would have been off the scale but not in a good way.
I don’t normally celebrate New Year’s Eve but I am wondering about doing so this year to make sure 2020 has finally “left the building” so to speak. Next year already looks more promising given the news about potential vaccines against Covid.
Spreading the News
Tidings are nothing new. The Nativity story is crammed full of them from the Angel Gabriel’s tidings to Elizabeth, mother of John The Baptist and, later, to Mary herself. Then there are the angels imparting news to the shepherds and so on.
Oh and when it comes to the carol, While Shepherds Watched, my sympathies were totally with the shepherds when it comes to the line:-
“Fear not,” he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds…
Can’t blame the shepherds really, can you? An angelic visit is going to come as a surprise to anyone (and still would!). Interestingly, I’d always thought shepherds were chosen to be part of the Christmas story because they represented the outcast and downtrodden. This article seems to indicate differently and I found it an interesting read.
The way we get our tidings has changed beyond recognition within the last few years. Getting messages across effectively and quickly has driven the way we communicate. From monks writing out books (especially the Bible) by hand to Guttenberg and Caxton with the first printing presses, and mass printing now to all forms of electronic communication. There has never been such a wide variety of getting tidings across to people. My own wish (as I am sure it is for so many of us) is that the content of those tidings were a lot more positive!
Now, surprise surprise not, I won’t be posting next Friday, Christmas Day (though I’m probably going to post something in the run up to New Year), and I thought I would take this opportunity to:-
(a) Wish you all a Happy Christmas and a safe one. It is going to be different for everyone this year but Christmas is a time to reflect on what has passed and to appreciate our loved ones.
I won’t be seeing family which is one of our traditions (and I shall miss this so much) though we are hoping to have a big meet on Zoom. (And I am so grateful for that invention. It has made many things “do-able” this year that would otherwise not have been and is a fantastic way of sharing tidings). Unfortunately, there is no way of making the temporarily relaxed restrictions work for us but Zoom has proved to be a lifeline.
(b) Finish this post with some flash fiction stories, which I hope you will enjoy. Some of these have appeared on my Facebook page. Others I hope will eventually make it into a third flash fiction collection.
Christmas Story Time!
I sometimes write some one/two line short stories. It does make for a good warm up writing exercise and I now use some of these to create brief story videos on Youtube. Here are some of mine with a Christmas theme. I call these micro stories.
1. The innkeeper smiled, having seen his guests to the last available room. Nobody else would be disturbing his sleep tonight then.
2. Scrooge grimaced as he walked home, having heard some young whippersnapper tell a snippet of a ghost story. Ghosts! Whatever next?
3. In the bleak midwinter, they could have done with a snow plough.
4. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer found that telling everyone he was suffering from a nasty cold stopped the awkward jokes about what he was adding to his water trough to generate said red nose.
5. Frosty the Snowman was the first to admit he really could not appreciate the benefits of central heating.
AN UNEXPECTED STOP
‘You do know at what speed you were travelling, sir?’
‘Er… no… officer, I’m afraid I was concentrating on getting to my next destination. I have to cover everyone on my list, you see, and I don’t have much time. Was it important?’
‘I’ll say so, sir. You will cause chaos flying at that speed. If everyone did that there’d be accidents galore.’
‘But, officer, it’s Christmas Eve, I’m Santa Claus, there’s nobody up here except us and I’d love to know how YOU got here.’
News: The story below is going to be broadcast on North Manchester FM (Hannah’s Bookshelf) between 2 pm and 4 pm on Saturday 19th December. It will be the first time I’ve had one of my stories read by someone else, in this case, Hannah Kate. I hope to share the link for the broadcast itself when I have it. Am naturally pleased about this! (A big thanks to fellow Swanwick attendee, Elizabeth Ducie, for flagging this festive flash fiction show up to me).
UP TO SCRATCH
‘Have I passed the MOT then, young man?’ The elderly gent peered at the guy, who could easily have been his grandson. ‘Can I resume my duties now?’
‘Oh yes, Grand…er… sir. And you are getting the correct CPM out of your chosen fuel source too.’
‘Carrots Per Mile, sir. You must be feeding your reindeer well.’
The elderly gent smiled. ‘Quality will tell, it always does. I don’t suppose there is anything you can do about the lead one’s red nose is there? I swear it stands out even in the thickest fog and I know Rudolph is embarrassed by it.’
‘Sorry, sir, you will have to go back to the manufacturer on that one.’
The elderly gent sighed. ‘That will have to wait. I’ve got places to go, people to see, and the big boss will want me to get that done first.’
And with that Santa and his reindeer took off as Christmas Eve broke. It would be a busy night.
Taking The Pen Away
There was once a cracker joke writer
Whose puns made people curse the blighter
So when his pen was taken
He felt forlorn, forsaken
But the world felt oh so much brighter!
Merry Christmas and I hope we can all have much happier tidings next year!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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