I remember when we lived in the village - actually it was three miles outside the village but we were still active participants in all village occasions. The Girl Guides and Brownie Guides used to have a Christmas fayre and spent the weeks leading up to it working hard to make things for their parents and friends to buy.
Because the village is small everyone supported such occasions, even if they didn't have children in the organisations involved. The Scouts and Guides had a Church parade once a month. This was not compulsory, but as the Scouting and Guiding movements promote the religious beliefs of the country they are in, and we live in a Christian country, the attendance was usually around 80% of the membership. Not bad when you consider that we had two Guide companies with 18 girls in each one, two Brownie Guide packs with 18 girls in each one, as well as two Scout Troops and two Cub Scout packs. We always had a part to play in the lead up to Christmas within the village church, and fortunately our vicar was very keen to involve the children. The sound of their voices as they sang the carols and hymns and gave the readings was second only to the voice of one of the Davies children singing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City at the midnight service on Christmas Eve.
Living in a village is so very different to living anywhere else. People say that suburbs of big cities are like villages but that's not true, at least not true of my experience. Our village was surrounded by small hamlets and other villages that had a pub and perhaps a church but didn't have a shop or newsagents so everyone came to our village. The Christmas tree would go up on the porch of one of the three pubs in our village. This happened on the first of December and then we knew that "it" was beginning. We didn't do huge things but the Young Wives Group always did a Christmas Entertainment for the elderly residents. The Women's Institute would go to the sheltered housing complex and do a musical entertainment. The Church Choir would go Carol Singing By Appointment. Sometimes we dressed in victorian costume and carried lanterns. Then we would stand beneath the street lamps and sing a selection of carols, conducted by Jack and with his wife's voice soaring above the rest of us into the chill night air.
Usually this would conclude with me and my children going back to the Davies household where we would sit in the kitchen - the five Davies children and my three and we would laugh and talk all at once while drinking hot drinks before we had to drive that three miles home.
Those are the days I would like to recapture for my grandchildren, that's the Christmas spirit I miss so much since moving to the city. Would I go back? Oh yes, in a heartbeat. Would it be the same? Yes, it is the same. We know this because we have kept contact with friends. More modern and up to date and the new vicar is not universally liked but the feeling is the same. Jack has gone and lots of others have, like us moved on but the village still cherishes Christmas and still manages to get the inhabitants to be involved even if they are newcomers.