With the passing of Christmas, which since the end of the 4th century has been celebrated on December 25th: originally held on January 6th in conjunction with epithany, which was the manifestation of Christ to the Magi.
Ma and I spent Christmas in Cornwall with Charlie, her two girls and all the dogs. On Christmas Day, Charlie and the girls and Billy, together with about five hundred crazy people went swimming in the sea at Bude. Ma and I watched in amazement, keeping well away; apparently it’s a bizarre Cornish tradition! Afterwards back to the cottage for hot baths and delicious roast goose.
Despite our lovely Christmas welcome, Mother and I decided not to move to Cornwall. The restless clouds and wind endlessly battered me; as we walked along the sea shore, our footsteps sinking into the wet sand, the air heavy with spray driven by the wind and rain. As lovely as summer days occasionally are, Ma decided she much preferred home; she knows there is no other place she wants to be.
On Boxing Day when it rained all day, I was forced out for a few short minutes to do my ablutions. According to Samuel Pepys, writing in his diary in 1666, Boxing Day is traditionally when tradesmen were given money and presents in thanks for their good work. Oh dear, it reminded Mother she had forgotten to give our Postie his Christmas Box.
When we arrived back at Cothay and turned the great front door key, which is 10 inches long and has been in the lock for over 500 years, we opened the door and Dearest said she loved the turning seasons except winter. We heard an unbidden whisper as the ghost welcomed us back, the air stirred with his passage; we thought of the unending dialogue of the past and present and we were glad to be home again.