It’s that glorious time of year when I can throw about the word festive as an adjective for all manner of escapades. I’m cooking the third roast of this week, for example, because it’s a festive thing to do and we have to be festive at this time of year.
Before you scoff in your Scrooge-esque way, I’m not actually referring to the big C: Christmas, I’m referring to the season, the winter months. That, for me, is the festive season, with all that it entails.
It is absolutely, categorically my favourite time of the year and no matter what anybody says it is unequivocally the best. I have such a longing for these cold and darkening days that November starts to provide us with. Yes, I may even moan a little (a lot) when stuck in a sudden and drenching downpour or when my fingers turn red and claw-like as I try to do something outdoors, but I am truly at my happiest then.
What is it that I long for? What is it that I associate so strongly with this time of year? For a start the togetherness it brings. The tide turns and shifts start to happen in the countryside around me. All of a sudden whole families come out of the woodwork as a unit and everyone is more willing to help each other out. Littlun’s are all around doing things they usually turn their noses up at, like lending a helping hand beating on the shoot days when they’re off school. Clad in wellies and waterproofs and wrapped up against the elements. People seem to be more willing to sample and appreciate the fruits of our labour, we all want to take extra game birds home to roast up or pop in the slow-cooker when friends are coming to visit.
We all turn out to witness the Boxing Day hunt as if antis don’t even exist, the elders sipping port from their leather-bound hipflasks and the young ones describing in enormous detail all that they got for Christmas.
The dog walks seem to increase, whether the pooches are up for it or not, as it burns off those extra calories and burns off the excess energy the children seem to have accumulated over the year.
We share homemade wares such as chutneys and baked goods, pies we so proudly spent our Sunday creating.
We congregate in the village pubs by the roaring fires to discuss anything under the low winter sun, so much more willing for small talk and grateful to be out and about. And if there’s a stomach warming mulled beverage to do it over… even better.
It’s a hearty reminder of our rural values in a time of such urban trepidation and uncertainty that our world is going through.
Yes, we may then get slapped in the face by January’s blues, but we all get hit in unison, and that’s really not so bad, is it?