I'm the rector of St Lawrence Church, Winchester, and this morning I'm up at 6am to celebrate Holy Communion in the cathedral. Attendance: two. Later I write a sermon for a lady who has died of cancer. Then I remember that she'd worn a colander on her head for the parish sale, and was a brilliant teacher. Three hundred attend the service, which was very sad. But then we believe in the Resurrection, which is some consolation. My son reminds me that Barack Obama is going on holiday. He's a big fan, and keeps me up to speed on the president-elect's progress.
Desperate sense of not having got any presents for anyone. Seek God's help – particularly with regard to my wife's present. There's always so little time, and I suppose the family gets second place at this time of year. My wife is concerned about Palestinians and updates me about the latest grim news from the Holy Land. Then she tells me not to sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" – given what's actually going on in Bethlehem, she reminds me the opening line, "how still we see the lie", is rather insensitive.
Crib service in church for children and parents. I get them to put animals and shepherds into the stable which is under the altar. It's important not to get them too excited, lest they go Awol and I can't keep control. Even more panic about presents. Write a poem or draw a painting – that's all you can do, David. So I do it. The kids have come home so I have to move out of my room and set up camp in my study. What with three kids, my brother-in-law and a Burmese theological student, there's not quite enough room for me. We always put a glass of sherry out for Santa before midnight mass. With about 60 people in a small church, the service is Christmas at its best.
Up at 6am. We have the ritual emptying of stockings before church. Spot of cereal before we head off to church. A colleague of mine took the service, partly because he's more skilled at getting balloon animals to go into the crib. Slightly chaotic, but very cheerful, with 100 people – many of whom I see only once a year. Then it's back for lunch – turkey and ham – and presents. We don't watch telly until the evening, when Wallace and Gromit come on. It's a bit loud but this is British cinema at its best. Another son tells me that Pinter is dead. He's an English Beckett in my view; I've seen a couple of his plays but they strike me as grim, grey and not quite literary enough for me.
Seven of us go for a walk, along with masses of other people in Winchester. Gorgeous weather. Good chance to talk to the young ones and catch up. Bits of old turkey and ham for lunch, before things start to wind down. No more services. It's off to bed with the poems of George Herbert.Reuse content