The Same Procedure As Every Year…
Norwegians insist on watching this “Dinner for One” sketch on the 23rd December every single year. However, they are not alone: I have German and Dutch friends who inform me that the same sketch appears regularly on their TV stations as well. If you actually do feel the overwhelming desire to watch this, press the play button above. I shan’t be joining you..
Such is the power of tradition that we do the most illogical things. Woe betide anyone who doth not understand this. I shall never forget the year I chose not only not to have the Norwegian hymn “Deilig er jorden” (“Lovely is the Earth”) when I planned a Christmas service, but not to place it in its obligatory place at the very end. No variation is possible, for this hath been handed down even from Jesus’ time…. That foolish mistake was back in 1995, and since I have come back to the same parish I can tell you that it was never forgotten! Needless to say, I have never repeated it either.
It is easy to scoff at the unreasonableness of such a thing. Yet I have only to consider the way in which Mark Damazer, the newly appointed controller of BBC Radio 4 got rid of a certain long standing tradition in 2006 before I too start feeling “hot under the collar”…
As you know, I grew up in the United Kingdom, and through my childhood (and more importantly in þe goode olde dayes of Adwick!) I would listen to the opening of that station. All through my formative years Radio 4 would open up with Fritz Speigl’s “UK Theme”. Indeed, on Sunday mornings I would wake up extra early at six o’clock to hear this before cycling off to Woodlands All Saints’. This was in those halcyon days of Adwick School, when the service used to be at nine o’clock. I could have laid in for at least an hour too, but such is the power of tradition. Every time I now find myself dragged out of bed at some God forsaken hour of the morning to play for a school service before Christmas, I think about what I put my poor mother and father through then. There is justice in the world….
I was not the only one to like this tradition. When Mark Damazer decided to end opening the station with this theme every day, he quite rightly incurred the wrath of the public. It went all the way to parliament. Sadly, however, it wasn’t enough to save it. Although he has now left the radio station, the “UK Theme” is now history. I shall never forgive him. In my opinion, the only reason it had to go was so that Mr Damazer could prove that he was the man in charge.
So I have to be careful about condemning others for traditions. Indeed I have them myself. Every year, on Boxing Day, I take a glass of port wine. This is now my very special way of remembering my parents. The only times I have not done this have been when my job required me to drive on Boxing Day (in which case I took this traditional glass the day after). The reason I do this also cometh from þe ancient dayes of Advicium.
Here beginneth the story that my dear mother was so fond of that she spoke of it till her dying day. Unlike here in Norway, where there often seems to be a taboo about alcohol, I was brought up with the idea of wine every Sunday dinner. My father made it himself, with varying results (although in the end, I have to say he became quite adept at the art). My parents believed that it were better to introduce children to alcohol at an early age, so they would know how to use and enjoy it properly. They believed that denying it until it were suddenly “legal” was the reason that many young people then went completely mad, and got drunk on it. So from about ten, I was allowed a very little drop of wine when we had our Sunday lunches.
When I was about fourteen (I cannot actually swear that I were either fourteen or thirteen, but it was one of those years, and if the later these events took place in þe olden time of Adwick School, which maketh it far better), my parents decided that I could try some port wine on Boxing Day that year. I was told that I had to sip it, and not to drink it like pop. Needless to say…. that I did what I was told not to do, and then had to spend about three hours on the sofa because I was so dizzy! My silly behaviour was later the subject of much mirth, and my mother would relate this story from year to year thereafter.
I should perhaps state that I was not drunk, and neither have I ever been drunk (not then, nor later in my life). The amount of alcohol I was allowed was not very large. Neither did the experience scare me off port. Some years later, when Adwick went into decline (during my years at the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield, I should lament seeing the slovenly condition of our once proud uniform when returning home on visits) a certain nostalgia for those bygone times spawned this my own very special tradition. Later, when my father passed away in 2001, this became my way of remembering not just childhood – but the family I no longer have.
That then is the reason that every boxing day, I take a glass of port. Ideally, I like to watch something entertaining on the TV, but these days that is becoming increasingly unlikely with the ever greater amount of garbage one sees there. Nevertheless, I do now sip my port, and I toast to my mother and father each time I sit back to enjoy it every Boxing Day!
For those who can read Norwegian, I wrote about my tradition last year on the Sister Blog. You can find that post at http://www.cqd.nu/blog/2012/12/17/ebeneezer-scrooge-kom-du-attende-alt-er-tigjeve/