Closed for the Holidays

by Christina

As Sheldon struggles with the Curse of The Cranky Christmas Shopper (that should totally be a film), I’m off to spend Christmas and all the days surrounding it driving a big yellow van and collecting Quality Street chocolates from every open tin I happen to see lying around. Neither of us get to put our feet up this year, but then, that wouldn’t be in keeping with either of our personalities, or in keeping with the year we’ve had.

This year, 2013, was the year that we brought Cemetery Club out into the open, took it out of our heads and put it on paper and on camera for all to see. We even gave it a name. ‘Cemetery Club’, in truth, was something that I came out with as a joke, during our visit to West Norwood Cemetery. It was then that we decided to begin chronicling our adventures, although the bones of our project had been in existence for nearly 2 years at this point.

This Christmas, to show Sheldon how much he and the project mean to me, I decided to fashion a Cemetery Club bauble. I would decoupage the logo onto a red bauble and sprinkle it with glitter. It would be a thing to behold.

Unfortunately, the last time I dabbled in decoupage was during a rather ambitious school project to decorate a set of old cupboards in one of the design technology workshops, and I was 13. I was no good at it then and I’m no good at it now.

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Still, the thought was there.

Let’s see what 2014 brings.

I’ll leave you with some Christmas quotes, some traditional, some less so.

Merry Christmas everyone!

by Sheldon

Image taken from page 17 of 'The Coming of Father Christmas'

Image taken from page 17 of ‘The Coming of Father Christmas’

And so begins a time of the year when those of the Christian faith meet together and celebrate the birth of the Messiah two thousand years ago. It wasn’t really until the Victorian era that Christmas as we would recognise it began to form: the influence of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s devoted husband, had on the holiday can still be felt down the years: he popularised the Christmas Tree being decorated in the home.

A Victorian Christmas is often celebrated as the definitive version – the classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ first published in 1842 has become to be known almost as universally as the story of the baby Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. So many stories and tales have been based in the time of Victoria’s reign, such as this ABC of Christmas published in 1894, its easy to forget that many of the Cemeteries we’ve visited this year were opened and in full operation when these ideas were made.

Postman's park, City of London.

Postman’s park, City of London.

I’ve mentioned before my wonder at how most of those invisible people buried in graves or stored in catacombs would have celebrated Christmas. How, on a very basic level, they would do as most of us would do on Christmas Day – prepare a large meal with family and friends and make merry. The Carols we sing were contemporary to the likes of those whose monuments adorn Nunhead or the Churchyards of Paston and Mundesley. ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ or ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ would have been relatively new when the Reverend Sir Montague Fowler started preaching his ministry, or when the Winchester Goose trod the streets of Southwark. Christmas is equally celebrating the birth of Jesus and, if you’re not of the Christian faith, celebrating the ideals of the fellowship between your fellow human beings.

Christmas Day is also a day where many visit departed family members in the morning to acknowledge and respect the memories of their loved ones. From seeing this first hand, these largely silent pilgrimages have a bittersweet tinge. It’s heartwarming to see a freshly laid wreath on a headstone but sad in a way that the owner of the stone can’t join their survivors just one last time.

I toast my ancestors who lay in India, Brompton, Chiswick New, Pinner and Bandon Hill with a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. And I thank you, the reader, for the interest and support of the blog this year. We’ve decided to give ourselves a Christmas holiday from the blog but shall return on Monday 6th January 2014 with more posts on the past and the people who’ve walked before us.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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About SheldonKGoodman

I'm Sheldon, a City of Westminster guide with a passion for exploring the environment around us. I have an extensive and deep interest in cemeteries and the people buried within them: it's a fascinating story and mix of characters who have all contributed to the world of today. Writing for www.cemeteryclub.co.uk, I hope to bring some of these people and places back to life and reveal their achievements, interests and lives.
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