WAITING IN THE WINGS: It struck me as I travelled along country lanes this week that the evergreens, the pine trees, and the yew, and the hollies get largely forgotten for much of the year. Like all things sturdy and dependable, we tend to take them for granted. They stay the same colour, and we don’t have to sweep up after them, like we do deciduous trees. In spring, we rave over delicate tree- buds. How do they remember to come out, we think, after a winter spent on a bleak, barren tree. They get the same attention as a newborn .Then, they reach fruition, and get almost debutante status , because they are a riot of leaves and summer perfection., and as they age, they get even more attention, because their leaves change to red /gold colours[like a woman sporting a new hair dye] and we all stand back and admire them. The fir trees nestle amongst them like an ‘also ran’. We rarely mention these stoic, majestic trees, but come November, when the hollies are bright with berries, and pine trees smell like never before, we begin to heed them. We notice just how beautiful they are. We cut down their branches and bring them inside. We bring whole trees inside, because it is these chaps that make our Christmas glorious, and carry us through winter. It’s not difficult to imagine the tallest fir tree in the forest, looking around, maybe a little smugly, perhaps even raising a glass and saying “Gentlemen, this is our time!”

IDEN BOWLS CLUB RAISES THE CUP: The Annual Bowls Club dinner was held at ‘The Mermaid’ in Rye on November 20th, and it was a delightful evening, lots of laughter, good food, and good company. Pauline Harmer [the Captain], collected the ‘Winner’s cup’, as Iden were once more top of the league [fourth time in a row] Iden is only a small club, so very well done, once again. Actually, it was made even nicer, by the fact that a few kind members of other clubs [all of whom are great bowlers themselves. came up and said “well done!” Nice to see that so many bowlers, had stepped out of their usual ‘white and grey’ attire, and into their ‘bling’, and best suits . Everyone looked splendid!

THE POP- IN: The next Pop-In will be held in Iden village hall on Monday 8th December at 11 am. It’s nice to see everyone leave the dusting and the bleak winter gardening tasks behind for an hour or so, and just come to the village hall, and drink coffee and chat, and find out who has already made the Christmas pudding![ Some Iden folk are incredibly organised]

BINGO: On Thursday 11th December , it will be the last Bingo before Christmas, and there is bound to be a mince pie or two, and some Christmas fun. Everyone from Iden and surrounding villages is welcome. Bingo actually starts at 2.30 pm, but doors open at 2pm. Well, it takes half an hour to get everyone settled with their Bingo books, and markers, and raffle tickets, and a little pre-Bingo chat [ it’s a nightmare trying to get some semblance of order], because they are all planning what to do with their winnings, before they’ve even sat down .Anyway, it promises to be fun!

NAZARETH TO BETHLEHEM VIA Iden: There is a charming, tradition in I den, which symbolises the journey Mary and Joseph took from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This event is our ‘travelling crib,’ which, during Advent, travels around Iden, spending one or two nights ‘lodging’at different homes. Advent commences this coming Sunday [30th November.], and there will be a list up in Iden Stores, so that people can sign up to have the crib in their home, and then take it to the next home, and so on, each home sheltering it for a night or two, until it is returned to Iden Parish Church on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, the new hosts offer a little seasonal refreshment, and a candle is lit, and prayers are said, as the crib is handed over.. The prayers are on a sheet provided, and the list in the shop will provide all information about who is bringing the crib,[names and dates etc. for the crib’s exchange] This is a lovely reminder of the true meaning of Christmas isn’t it?

ADVENT SUNDAY SERVICE: This coming Sunday is Advent Sunday, [30th November], as Iden Parish Church begins it’s countdown to Christmas . This service of Holy Communion commences at 9.30 am.

‘HEARTFELT’: The human heart has as many pockets as an advent calendar. Oh, I’m not talking about mitral valves and the ventricles and the atria. I’m talking about memories that we tuck away, that belong exclusively to us. The reason that I like Christmas is that I spent my informative, childhood years in a gold-mining town in Northern Ontario. It was a town cut out of a pine forest, and we were able to just cross the road and chop down whatever Christmas tree took our fancy. The people in that town were in effect in a ‘pen’, gated by a forest, on all sides. It lent itself to Christmas, with the snow and the remoteness of it all, but it never felt isolated., because the people were warm.[like Iden folk] My Grannie , was a prairie woman, who once said that she had a hole in her shoulder from rocking so many grandchildren to sleep. She would read the local paper, and say “Oh no Herb Danachuck lost a toe with the frostbite[ and it was true, people sometimes wandered into the vastness of the forest and lost all sense of direction, and got frost bite] A memory for me, and certainly a memory for Herb Danachuck who only has nine toes !] When I came to England with it’s red buses, and it’s history, it enchanted me in different ways, and England is my home, and I love it, but I still ‘hoover up’ anything which reminds me of Canada. Life changes for all of us, for so many reasons, and especially at Christmas time, we tend to take stock of it all [like taking a second peek at our presents, some nice, some not so nice.] We can change a Christmas present [provided of course that we’ve kept the bill], but we can’t change our memories. Our memories are there to stay, and they most certainly change us don’t they?

BREADCRUMBS IN THE CUTLERY DRAWER: This year, it’s already been decided that my son and daughter –in –law are doing ‘Eggs Benedict’ for everyone, for boxing morning breakfast, and my daughter and son- in law are doing the Christmas night turkey sandwiches [and accompanying pickles] Great! I’ll just swan around in my new slippers. BUT—even if it’s family, I’m still aware of people let loose in my kitchen. I have to be seen to be a ‘housewife superstar’, [which couldn’t be further from the truth.] There are little weaknesses in my kitchen that I’m actually fond of. My frying pan without a handle, a few crumbs in the cutlery drawer, things a little too baked -on in the oven. So I’m going to have a purge. A pre- Christmas scrub [but the frying pan stays] “Why does your mum keep a frying pan with no handle”, I can hear them say. Well the answer is that I’m a batty old woman who has a fondness for things a little askew. If ever I’m banished to a ‘home, that frying pan goes with me [I’ll keep my jewellery in it!]

CONTACT ME: If anyone has anything to add to the village voice, please contact me, Gill Griffin [telephone 01797 280311], and I’ll gladly include it.

Gill Griffin

Belfield, Main Street