Twelve of the Clock

As ever we’re sneaking this last post in closer to Christmas Day than Christmas Eve.

But we were working this morning, baking n the afternoon, and the late-night service was at ten this year, not eleven. We can sing, but only, and this made us smile, ‘gently, maybe humming, the way you might sing along with the radio.’

We have news for our little Anglo-Catholic church…when we sing along with the radio, we go as operatic as we can get away with. We sing choruses we know with gusto, and we leap gleefully for high notes. Not sure that’s really what they want at the moment. So, we were very good. We sang very, very quietly indeed. Our best mezza-voce.

Okay, we were mostly good. We still sang the descants from the congregation. Look, you have to understand that at this point it’s harder to sing melody on Hark the Herald and Adeste Fidelis. Our muscle memory on certain verses isn’t for the melody line. And anyway, we sang them really, really quietly. Okay? Just because it’s been years since a conductor insisted we hit Top A pianissimo doesn’t mean we’ve lost the skill.

We’re also late because having people at home all day means they want to be included in the tea-making. WHich is lovely and all, but they aren’t really ambitious tea people. They are to tea the way we are about cheese. We stick to nice orange things like cheddars and double Glousceter, and they stick to Yorkshire Brew. Perfectly good as breakfast tea goes. Not much to blog about. A very tea-like tea.

So, we are only now drinking David’s Tea. It’s the last one in the calendar and it’s called Jingle Bells. It’s also a black tea, because whoever organized the calendar this year stuck all the black teas in the same frantic Christmas week.

Generously, they were probably trying to ensure we all had the energy to get through to Christmas Eve. Jingle Bells is a chai, and you notice that immediately. It’s got the same warm blend of spices you’d expect from a chai, and a few extra for luck. Cardamom, which we always like in tea, and cinnamo, ditto. Supposedly there’s chocolate in it, but we can’t taste it over the cardamom, and that’s okay. We like spicier teas, anyway.

It’s a bit of a day for chocolate teas. We snuck our German Calendar tea in over dinner while the others were having coffee, and it was a mint chocolate combination. Curiously, we couldn’t taste chocolate there either over the mint, though the black tea came through. Though in the case of mint chocolate tea, we think that a bit of milk might have brought out the chocolate. Sometimes you need the creaminess of the milk to do that. We never got a chance to find out, because dishwashing intervened.

It might work with the chai too. After all, you’re supposed to milk and sweeten it well. We just prefer not to. Drinking flavoured black tea as-is is tradition. And you know that old saw about Anglicans and traditions and how they never change….

On that note, here’s another Christmas tradition for you. Until we find a Christmas poem we like better, you’re stuck everlastingly with Thomas Hardy’s oxen. And that’s quite the challenge, because we love Oxen Kneeling. So enjoy – but do feel free to offer alternatives! We just don’t promise to be moved.

The Oxen
Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

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