It's Christmas! And to celebrate, Lisa and I have impaled some marshmallows onto cocktail sticks, and stuck them into an orange. It seemed like the festive thing to do. The one on the left is mine, and the fire hazard on the right is Lisa's.
But anyhoo, Lisa and I are now in Chelmsford for Christmas (Lapland was full), having journeyed up the M23 yesterday afternoon in record time. On the way, we popped over to Portslade for a pre-arranged meeting with the lovely Lorraine, who was in a festive mood and wanted to give us the gift of meeting her new boyfriend. Unfortunately, when we turned up 55 minutes late and let ourselves in (her door is always open - literally), we came face to face with a Japanese student who informed us that Lorraine was out. Lisa asked her to pass on a message, but judging by the blank expression on the girl's face, I don't hold out much hope of that getting through. To be honest she did well not to call the police the moment we barged into the living room unannounced.
So having wished Oscar the cat a Happy Christmas on the doorstep, we left empty-handed, and made our way to Essex, where we were persuaded to attend a Christmas Carol Service, mainly because we know the bloke in charge (and I don't mean God). Big Sis had arrived from Texas (via Australia) so the three of us journeyed east, following a star (my Mum left before us) and arrived at the church in time to get a seat before all the pensioners turned up.
The service itself was quite enjoyable. Sis attempted to sing the harmony to every song, I attempted to stop laughing, and we both attempted to get Lisa clapping along to 'Away in a Manger'. We failed on all three counts. But I did enjoy the bloke doing the reading, who told us that "Maggie came from the east". I don't remember her in the Christmas story, which just goes to show how long it is since I last went to church.
The highlight however, was undoubtedly the audience participation spot. My Dad had personally eaten ninety yoghurts (what a weekend that was) to enable everyone to make their own Christingle, and despite being given an orange shaped like a pear, I made the best of it, and resisted the temptation to eat my equipment. Every element of the Christingle is deeply significant, and represents some part of the Christmas story. I think. To be honest, I was so busy trying to get my orange to stand up, that I stopped listening after the first 30 seconds. So I couldn't tell you the point of the raisins (or, if you will, the raisin d'etre), although I think the candle's got something to do with the light of the world cutting through red tape.
Anyhoo, a few mince pies and a chocolate roll later, and we fled back to my parents' house, where I took the above photo of our handiwork. It's just as well, because half an hour later my Mum got back, mistook them for rubbish, and chucked them in the bin.