I begin my letter this month with two lines borrowed from William Shakespeare:
"So hallowed and gracious is the time
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated."
There is something quite special about Christmas! Despite the mad rush and commercialism, there is a different feel to the season. There is a sense of the holiness of the time. Through the gathering of family and friends we celebrate God's love. It is a message brought home to us in so many different ways, perhaps through the reading of the Scriptures and especially John's Gospel about Jesus the Word made flesh; or through the beauty of the Christmas services, a shared meal or gifts given and received.
All these things are signs of the reality of God's gracious love for the world, a world into which his Son was born as a helpless babe to show us a better way to live and so serve God our Father and our brothers and sisters too.
This Christmas let us make the time to stop and think about all we celebrate. Let us reflect on the hallowed and gracious time through which we can enjoy God's love. And let us also
try to share that love of God with another person, perhaps by remembering somebody who is lonely, who has no family to celebrate the season with, or the people who are homeless.
May Jesus Christ our Lord through this hallowed, gracious time touch your life and bless and strengthen you to share his love with others.
I wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas.
Philip T. Francis Vicar of Gaydon with Chadshunt
There will be no Church flowers during Advent.
The Church will be decorated for Christmas on Wednesday, 23 December, from 10.30 a.m. onwards. We would be most grateful for donations of flowers, greenery, etc. and anyone who could spare some time to help on the day would be very welcome. So, join in if you can and help prepare the Church for Christmas - it really is rewarding!
Many thanks. JL
We would like to thank everyone who helped to organise the Christmas Market this year and all those who came along to support it. Details of funds raised will appear in the January Magazine. AMC
In these days of recession we are all so busy thinking of our own problems that it is possible sometimes that we may forget those who are so much worse off than we are.
Homelessness for example: do you know that over 100 people regularly sleep outside, without a roof over their heads, in Leamington Spa? They are people caught in a trap from which they cannot escape.
Whilst we are enjoying our cosy Christmas evenings, they will be searching for another cardboard box for warmth and protection from the elements, under some bridge or in some doorway.
There are a band of Christian people, namely the Salvation Army, who are doing their best to relieve some of the suffering of these unfortunate folk.
As a village there are ways in which we can help, by giving gifts such as old sleeping bags, duvets, blankets, foodstuffs or even cash. It as promised that these gifts wil reach the people in need locally in Leamington Spa. Do please help if you can. All gifts, no matter how large or small, can be left at Cherry Trees, Kineton Road, or Oak Beams, Church Lane, by December 20th please.
LET'S TRY AND HELP THEM SLEEP THIS CHRISTMAS AMC
Many thanks to the Owen family at Barnfield for hosting our Bonfire Party on 7 November. A great time was had by all!
We have several dates for our members to note for December:
12 December - Club Night in the Village Hall 7.00 - 9.00 p.m.
13 December - Christingle Service at 11.15 a.m. During this lovely service we collect money for the Children's Society. Please meet at Barnfield, Church Lane, at 10.30 a.m. to make the Christingles.
22 December - Pathfinders will be Carol Singing around the village. Meeting details later.
24 December - Crib Service at 6.00 p.m. in Church. Do bring family and friends to this beautiful candle-lit service.
N.B. 3 January - No Pathfinders meeting this week.
5 January - Proposed trip to see "Scrooge" in Birmingham.
17 January - Next Pathfinder meeting at 11.15 a.m. Village Hall.
A very Happy Christmas and God's Blessing to all our Pathfinder Members and their families! CC
I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the helpers and those who gave so generously to make the Poppy Appeal such a success. Gaydon and Chadshunt raised the excellent total of £343.93.
Thank you all for your support. JMP
£80.14 was raised from the house-to-house collection during October. Thanks to all who donated so generously and especially to those who did the collecting. MF
In my last report my computer's over-helpful spelling-checker replaced 'Alveston' with 'Laxest' without my noticing it. Nobody said anything, so perhaps you thought it sounded like one of those
Warwickshire villages just too far away to be sure about!
November saw us at Shottery - our Rural Dean's church, Ann Hathaway country and the most westerly parish of the Deanery. Steve Burch, who visited us in Gaydon a few weeks ago, was there to talk about youth work in the Diocese. Two ideas from the many discussed were: most young people don't mind long services but do want them to be lively; with secondary schools gathering people from many villages, can we create new forms of matching multi-village church activity? HB
We welcome to the Village the Drury family who have come to live in St Giles Road; and the Patterson family who have come to live in the Banbury Road. We hope they will enjoy living in Gaydon.
Birthdays celebrated during November were those of John and Joan Taylor and Ian Goodband from the Gaydon Inn, and Joan Brooks from the Malt Shovel; also Mrs Hayes, Mrs Betty Davies and Alistair Corner.
Since December 1st 1991 £92.00 has been raised by the Flag Scheme for the Church Fabric Fund. Thank you to all who have supported it - keep on having those birthdays!
If you would like to make a request please see Mrs M. Fox at the Old School or Mr D. Bennett of 4 St Marks Close with your message and at least £1 donation, giving 48 hours' notice if possible, please.
Play area safety surfacing. Owing to the damp Autumn the work in the play area has had to be postponed until the Spring when weather conditions should make ti possible for the safety surfacing to be laid.
The next Parish Council meeting will be held on 5 January 1993.
Village Postcard now on Sale
At last the end result of our Village Postcard Photographic Competition is available.
Our grateful thanks go to Rover Group for sponsoring the printing of the postcard and to all the village folk who entered the competition.
Proceeds from the sales are for Church funds and the prices are 20p each; £1.50 for 10 and £13.00 for 100.
An order form has been placed in the Church and collections can be made after the service on Sundays; or on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and at weekends from Oak Beams, Church Lane. PC
The other day a lady called in to my gift shop to tell me of the latest visitors to her garden. A family of hedgehogs call on her every evening. Four adults are now joined by five babies. The largest adult apparently now lets her stroke his nose! She feeds them cake crumbs and cheese and puts a dish of water out. Hedgehogs have traditionally been given bread and milk but recent research at St Tiggywinkles (a voluntary hedgehog hospital in Aylesbury) has found that too much milk
actually kills them. By rights they should be hibernating now!
The same lady has two dormice under her shed and to protect them she has put wire around the bottom of it to keep out the cats.
The matron of a nursing home popped into my shop and told me about her elderly residents who are fascinated by the acrobatic antics of the grey squirrels on their bird-table. One has taken to entering the building much to the delight of the residents.
There were plenty of squirrels in evidence on our Christmas Day walk last year, unmoved by a group of treasure hunters from a nearby hotel. We were out looking for a sprig of holly for the Christmas pudding.
May I wish you all a Merry Christmas! ARW
The twelve days of Christmas have always been a time for eating and drinking. Mediaeval lords of the manor laid on huge feasts for their tenants and very welcome these were at a time of the year when fresh meat was scarce and many had been fasting in Advent. A typical meal would have included chicken, meat, wildfowl, home-brewed cider and ale and perhaps white bread (a real luxury in those days). The boar's head would appear; and among the poultry, swan, peacock, heron, crane and perhaps bittern, woodcock, plover and snipe. Today's traditional turkey was not introduced into Europe until the sixteenth century, when the Spaniards brought it over from America.
The mediaeval pudding would be frumenty - porridgy mixture with added spices and dried fruit. Incidentally, the 'plums' (as in 'plum pudding') were raisins, currants and prunes. It was not until the eighteenth century that the Christmas pudding began to bear any relation to that we enjoy today. The coins and trinkets that we put in our puddings come from the custom of putting a bean and a pea in the Twelfth Cake.
The Twelfth Cake was THE cake of the festive season. There are records of its being made in the fifteenth century from sugar and wheaten flour - both fairly scarce commodities, but their use was spreading. Slightly later a new skill was imported from France, that of decorating a cake with elaborate designs in sugar and paste, but it was the Twelfth Cake that was decorated in this way. The cake shifted to 25 December in the nineteenth century when the whole emphasis of Christmas began to shift to that date, rather than the New Year.
There were mince pies in the fifteenth century, but they were savoury and made from minced meat. They became sweet in Stuart times when they were made with currants, butter, eggs and sugar. For some reason the mince pie was a Christmas custom which especially annoyed the Puritans during Cromwell's time!
1lb of flour with a pinch of salt in a basin. Stir 1/2 oz of yeast (in a cupful of warm water) into the flour and let it stand for an hour in a warm place. You also need:
1/2 lb of butter, 1/2 lb of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 3/4 lb of currants, 1/4 lb of candied peel, and 2 beaten eggs.
Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and dried fruit and add to the flour and yeast. Add water as needed to give a slack consistency. Mix it well and pour into tins. Bake for 2 hours in a moderate oven. The old-fashioned way to serve this bread is to give it lashings of butter.
N.B. Copy for the January Parish Magazine must be handed to the editors by Sunday 13 December owing to the printer's Christmas close-down.
We would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.