"I don't know about you, but I love Christmas. I always have and always will. I'm so happy, I could jump for joy if only my old legs would allow me. I put up the Christmas tree two weeks ago and spent the best part of an afternoon decking it out with trimmings and baubles as I happily listened to a record of Christmas songs playing out loudly in the background. Naturally, the Christmas melody included Bing singing, 'I'm Dreaming of a White Chrismas' and my all-time favourite, 'Driving Home for Christmas' by Chris Rea.
For me Christmas never begins until I have put up a real live Christmas tree and have sung along with Chris Rea. Then when December 15th comes around (The anniversary of the first time I met up with Sheila), I am always reminded that my Christmas has finally arrived. I then look forward to meeting up with all my brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and all their children every Christmas Eve afternoon in some pub that is geographically central to us all. It is the one day during the course of the year when we all make a special effort to meet up with our partners and children. It is a day when we recall humorous situations about growing up together and recounting memories of our deceased parents.
After a light tea and a sampling of mince pies on the evening of the 24th, we prepare for the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. I cannot think of any person more fitting to be placed at the center of Christmas than Christ himself or of nicer place to be at the end of Christmas Eve than at Midnight Mass singing 'Silent Night' with the ones you love. And who can doubt that next to a mother seeing her first child born, that the greatest of all happiness is found in the innocent faces of the very young for whom Father Christmas remains a very real part of the Christmas celebration as they open their presents on Christmas morning around the tree.
I can't imagine ever wanting to spend Christmas away from home or having Christmas dinner around any other table than one's own and in the presence of one's family. To me the thought has always been alien and yet, my work with bereaved people over the years along with couples experiencing marital and financial problems and homeless people has led me to understand how difficult a time of year Christmas can be for many people.
I know that Christmas can be a pain in the butt for many women who are always the ones who seem to be saddled with much of the stress that is often visited upon the chief cook and bottle washer, while we chaps on the other hand are invariably left to the nicer tasks of the feastive season. This year however, I intend to ensure that we eat out a few times after Boxing Day and to stock up on my wife's favourite chocolates. I intend to start today with taking her out to lunch. Happy Christmas everyone. Must get back to Chris Rea." William Forde: December 15th, 2014.