|George at the top,
then clockwise, Minnie and Pipkin, All rescue cats
Christmas is a festival for us human beings.
Animals (donkey’s, sheep, camels) only have walk on parts.
For some Christians it’s about their exclusive interface with the supernatural. Bully for them. Whilst they get a seat in the stalls I’ll be in the Gods, but closer to the toilets.
for many – including most Christians I know – it’s the annual rerun of Viv Nicholson’s Spend Spend Spend.
A few months ago I discovered a family of new-born feral kittens in a field close to where we live: we gave one of them a home.
Our two mature cats were initially beastly to Pipkin, and Lynne was distressed at the unsophisticated toilet habits of a feral kitten, but with Christmas just around the corner things are beginning to look up.
Did DNA confirm their relationship? No.
On the other hand would Jesus’ DNA confirm that Joseph was his father? No.
So are Pipkin’s or Jesus’ family less strong?
Not really. Minnie (top dam) smacks Pipkin (new feral female kitten) when she oversteps the mark.
George (sire) smacks them both when their playfulness means he can’t take his catnap without a playful tease from the younger dam, and a good licking from the older dam.
And Jesus won’t stop short of putting us on the naughty step when necessary.
So what does DNA teach us?
I have two sons of my seed (my first wife I believe to have been faithful. The younger of them is my spitting image in the days I was God’s gift to women, and the older looks like a dead ringer of my former wife’s father, who himself was a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart.
There’s a lot of rhubarb said about “family”, and I wrote my own two-penneth in a Remembrance day blog earlier in November Who is family?.
But when I married my second wife I became Grandad to two granddaughters who I have no DNA link with but who I adore as massively as they do me. Both Lynne and I have been an integral part of their lives since birth.
For me it was initially an embarrassingly novel experience changing their nappies to discover in detail a baby female’s bum, and I remember her other Grandma advising me to ensure that I clean it all thoroughly, as poo can hide itself in many places between a baby girl’s legs.
Initially it was distasteful, but like a trooper I stuck to the job and by the end I think I could have changed little girl’s nappies for England. Over this past 7-8 years I’ve bonded with these mites who will be part of me till my time on planet earth is over, as much as I will with my own DNA connected boys.
I will probably remind the girls, now in big girl’s knickers, of their early toilet habits, when they marry. I love them dearly.
2014 has been an eventful year for us.
|Alice and Jonathan,
On July 26th I was invited to read the Scripture at my firstborn’s wedding.
He’s taking so long to edit the video of the ceremony I may be able to send you the link by next Christmas – there’s a lot to be said for the Brownie box camera.
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Jonathan and Alice marry. Me and Lynne in the front row
<![endif]–>The passage chosen, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, is close to my heart. As I summate in the reading, it’s about the centrality of love.
In 1980 I wanted to name my firstborn John, after the revolutionary Beatle John Lennon, who wrote All You Need Is Love, and who was killed in New York a week before Jonathan was born.
My wife at the time (who despite this I still love) thought John was a common name, so I compromised with Jonathan, on the understanding that Lennon was his second name.
Funny thing is, he is now known as Jon by everyone.
Apologies to all the common Johns I have subsequently met and loved.
A rose by any other name smells as sweet.
Let’s recap. In the western Christian church Advent in 2014 runs from November 30th until December 24th, and marks a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus, the start of Christianity.
I was a practising member of the Church of England for several years, and though I’m not now I appreciate there are millions of nominal Christians who go to church to solemnise hatches matches and dispatches, and others for whom the Christian faith is the bee’s knees.
|Malcolm in happier times. Best Man at our wedding in 2001
My big brother Malcolm was invited to the wedding, but ill health prevented an appearance. Cancer claimed his life on December 3rd, which was my most significant loss this year.
I am still tearful at his departure, in a Canterbury hospice.
My only joy is that he has escaped from two years of misery, as the cancer, and dementia took increasing hold.
As we left to drive back to Lancashire he said “Have a good journey”
And I whispered to myself “The same to you”
Other family news is also eventful.
My son Edward threw in his blue chip career a few months ago to open a swanky bar in central London. Big change. No certainty of success, but a life changing event.
It opens early next year so I’ll keep you posted.
My stepdaughter Carolyn has emigrated to Najac, in southern France where she and Robbie plan to open a gite next spring. They are other adventurers who are living their dream
Jonathan and Alice, apart from getting married, have just moved from Greenwich Village to Brooklyn, and we hope will return to the UK soon to have baby Armstrong. One out, one in, that’s our motto, so as Malcolm goes to the Rovers Return in the sky so we anticipate baby Armstrong with open arms.
Jonathan is beginning to forget Tottenham Hotspur’s form and is more at home with American girls games like rounders, or that version of rugby where they wear padding. .But not before New Year in Brazil.
|Captain Den calling the tune
in the cockpit
Meanwhile Claire and Captain Den are still flying over the white cliffs of Blackpool aerodrome. He now has a new plane which makes a lot of noise.
The most exciting of course is the progress of granddaughters Verity and Harri.
Still in an Accrington Primary school.
Harri is a camel in the school Nativity play, and Verity was at a carol service last week, singing like a lark. If she wants to stay in tune let’s hope she has my, rather than Lynne’s genes.
As I look through the window at my neighbours walking up a field to feed their horses Tom and Fly, and see other neighbours play with their dogs Stanley and Ruby and on the other side Scamp, and possibly eat an egg laid next door by a ducks or a hen I conclude that animals really are central to civilised life on earth.
But in heaven?
I’ll let you know next year when dear Malcolm reports back
To wish you a happy Christmas, in view of Malcolm’s death seems like wasted words
Instead I’ll refer you to the Scriptures, James 1:2
Consider it pure joy when times are bad, for only then do you grow.