All the joys of the season to you all :)

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate and happy holidays to everyone, however you are marking the turning of the year.

Here is my favourite Christmas poem. I’m not religious, but this one resonates for me, because it’s about the way stories linger and resonate with us throughout our lives. The poem was first published exactly a century ago, in The Times on Christmas Eve 1915. It must have been a terrible Christmas for many who read it then, but there’s a kind of quiet solace in the way it looks back to simpler times.

The Oxen

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.

Thomas Hardy

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