Christmas decorations. We do not have a Christmas tree. We do not have Christmas lights. We do not have Christmas "snow" dust on the windows. The Christmas cards are stacked on the table. There is no Christmas wreath on the door. Our street tree is not sporting a Christmas bow.
When my mother was alive we would have had all these things. She would have had the nativity set on the coffee table (sans baby until Christmas Day) and, at very least, the cards strung up.
My father just shrugs. He grumbles about Christmas cards because he dislikes the physical act of writing anything, even signing his name is an effort. He would rather talk to people. Our 'phone bill will be large as he has rung his cousins in far distant places rather than send a card. It is the way he likes to do it now.
"You should just do it!" my sister tells me of Christmas decorations, "He would like it if you did it."
No, he would not. I know why he does not want to do it. All of that reminds him of what Christmas was like when my mother was alive. He does not want to be reminded of that. It is not that he particularly cared for those things himself but they remind him of her. He has no problem with seeing decorations in other places. He simply does not want them here.
I have made a Christmas cake, well more than one Christmas cake as some go to other people. I have made mince pies. My father is not particularly a "sweet tooth" person but he does like mince pies.
I have also made shortbread, rather a lot of shortbread. Most of the shortbread is due to be parcelled up in cellophane bags tied with curling ribbon. It will be passed on to those people who have done us good service during the year. This is the sort of thing that makes Christmas for my father.
He has been working in his shed for weeks on toys for children of his acquaintance. This year it is hobby horses for his great-grandchildren and the curate's daughter, games of various sorts for other children he knows. He has made various useful items for other people he knows. Presents, he says, should be useful. They should not collect dust. Presents should thank other people for their love and friendship.
The cake, mince pies and shortbread will disappear. If he does not want the house decorated or the cards strung up that does not matter. What does matter is the little wooden horses which will gallop into the lives of three little girls on Christmas morning. They will come with the real spirit of Christmas.