The Riserdrummer Christmas Message 2014

Well, it’s that time of year again, when Christmas messages raise their heads over social and broadcast media. Never being one to break with tradition, here are my thoughts as we approach the season.

First of all, I’d like to forestall any comments from the usual suspects about acting like a Queen. I can assure you there’s no diamante and tiaras in my wardrobe – at least not just now. But just as HM Liz’s message always harks back to the year past and forward to the year ahead, so mine does as well.

Last year’s Christmas message (https://riserdrummer.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/the-riserdrummer-christmas-message-2013/) was one of emerging from challenges and a determination to push forward into new things, with the key phrase being this:

Life isn’t always smooth, some times the roller coaster goes up and down a bit quicker than is comfortable, but it isn’t what life throws at you that matters, it’s what you allow to stick. Choose what to allow into your life and what to shrug off.

That has once again been the theme of this year.

My family has seen some tragedies, with the sad passing of our lovely neighbour Fred early in the year, and then my Aunt Grace and my Uncle Andrew in October. Happening as they did within a week of each other, this was a very sad time, but one filled with memories of some special people. One of the lovely things to come from Grace’s funeral was when talking to our family from Dover, who all said they didn’t appreciate just how much we all thought of Grace. It’s brought us all that bit closer together, and whilst there it was wonderful to see my father and his brother chatting, as their relationship had been distant for some years. Good things can come from sad times. And we had decided to shrug off the oppression of grief and sadness, and allow the happiness and joy that Grace’s life embodied to cover us all.

Life has also seen some new starts. We have new neighbours, which still sometimes feels a little strange, but it’s great to make new friends. I’ve embarked on a career of amateur acting, having performed in two very different productions this year. I’ve loved getting to be someone other than myself for a while – it’s a new challenge and one I hope to continue next year. And musically, we’ve played some pretty great events – it’s wonderful to be part of Riser, getting to be at so many parties and weddings!

Friends have also seen some major changes and adventures, with new babies, new homes and new careers, plus several going on trips around the world, posting back pictures of amazing scenes that I’m really not that jealous about. Honestly…

And so on to 2015. What’s next year going to have in store for me, for US? Who knows? One thing I am sure of, is that the same attitude and approach that has seen me through this year will carry me on through the next. With the love of family and friends, a faith in God that underpins all I do, and a determination to choose what to carry with me and what to leave behind, 2015 is a step into the sunshine.

So, as this year comes to a close, I leave you with this thought….

May Christmas 2014 find you all well, warm, happy and loved, may the spirit of Christmas fill your heart and mind with joy, and may you have ample opportunity to share that joy with all those closest to you.

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Just a quick list

OK, quick list time – please comment on the contents….

Top 5 Films watched over Christmas:

Megamind – actually a fun animated flick, better than I thought it was going to be.

Tangled – OK, but I preferred Megamind.

Uncle Buck – who could ever get tired of this one? John Candy at his finest.

FAQ About Time Travel – I do love this quirky little science fiction thing.

Ooh You Are Awful – early 70s vehicle for the late great Dick Emery, allowing him to scour the country for tattoos on girls bums. Well, why not?

 

Top 5 TV Shows Watched Over Christmas:

I’m gonna preface this list with the comment that i still haven’t seen Doctor Who yet – but I will rectify that over the weekend. And I know that’ll take up a space on my list, so you only get 4….. Anyway:

Still Open All Hours – I was a little dubious about this, but I really enjoyed it, and reckon it could make a decent sitcom series.

PQ17 – this was on last night (so technically NOT Christmas) but was such an interesting documentary about the most disastrous convoy mission of WW2.

The IT Crowd – Love this show, and finally got to see the last episode (The Internet Is Coming) which was fab.

Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special – yeah, i know. But this had everything you want from a Christmas TV show, including the Andre Previn sketch. Never gets old.

 

Top 5 Christmas Gifts:

Dangerous to separate these out, because everything I got was great, so this one is more a subset of a much larger cool list of stuff…

Theatre Tickets – yeah, thanks to David and Heather, we’re gonna soak up some culture in 2014 over at Windsor.

Shaver – sounds dull, but it’s what I wanted, and my old one was very much past it. This one’s lovely and shiny-bright…

Christmas Jumper – well, not so much a Christmas jumper, more a winter one, so whilst it’s lovely and warm, it has no reindeer, holly, Santa or Christmas puds on it, which makes it acceptable for me!

Lynx – loads of Lynx stuff. Apparently, ‘Attract’ smells best, according to my girls….

Top Gear – Ambitious But Rubbish – the book that tells the background to all those well-intentioned yet spectacular failures, and shows that not all of the show is scripted.

 

Five Books I am reading:

Currently I have five books on the go, so it makes sense to add these to the post…

The Bible (natch)

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (surprisingly hard going compares to his usual fare)

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Stephen Biskoff (the novelisation of one of my favourite movies)

Doughnut by Tom Holt (brilliant fantasy farce)

Top Gear – Ambitious But Rubbish (see above)

 

Finally, let’s do 5 things I want to do in 2014:

More gigging and drumming with my great mates in Riser.

Visit Ben and Julia in the South of France, hopefully fulfilling an ambition to drive over the Millau Bridge.

Write more – stories, blogs, songs, whatever, I really want to put more out there this year.

Go deeper – sounds strange, but with all the things I treasure – relationships, experiences, honesty, faith and self-awareness – there’s another level to take them to.

Enjoy life – 2013 was a bit of a struggle for much of the year, and has ended so well, I want this to continue throughout the year.

OK, there you go. Five lists of Five items. Let’s see where we go from there……

 

The RiserDrummer Christmas Message, 2013

Hi all, it’s time for my Christmas message, and as is usual, I’ve been in reflective mood as well as looking forwards.

This time last year, my Christmas Facebook status read as follows:

“And so this is Christmas. Looking through my timeline, I have friends going through intense times of joy through the arrival of new babies, and friends going through times of deep sorrow through the loss of a loved one. I have friends going through times of affluence and times of shortage. I have friends far off (like Simon and Karen in Sydney, and Jon and Emma in Texas) and friends nearby. My Facebook life is so rich and varied, and to ALL of you – have a happy, peaceful Christmas full of joy, laughter, happiness and friendship.”

This has been so true this year – reflected time and again in the lives of myself and everyone close to me. My year started out with a return to work after being off for a period through ill health – a combination of thyroid problems and what my GP described as ‘moderate to severe depression’, a diagnosis that had knocked me for six. Getting back into the routine of work was tough, and was made even tougher a few months later when the spectre of redundancy raised its head once again.

Finding myself out of work, with a home and family to support and a job to find, proved a challenge in more ways than one. However, I can now look back on that time as a real turning point. If the redundancy had come the previous year, I have no doubt my reaction would have been very different. However, with the experience of past and current depression hanging over me, it made me determined to learn from the path this year had taken, and not to let situations dictate who I was and how I would behave.

Having a faith in God helped to solidify this resolve – I was repeatedly reminded of my status and my worth, through prayer, Bible verses, and by my friends within my church. And whilst the days and weeks passed by with little or no action, I really didn’t feel under any stress about the situation, because I knew that there was a plan and a strategy going on.

At the end of August, I was offered two jobs – either of which I would have been happy to accept, but after some thought and prayer, chose the one with less commute, more flexibility, and with a larger company. And it’s really been a decision proved correct every day. The job has been great, working with some good people, and having the flexibility of working closer to home means that I’m back at a reasonable time, and not wasting a couple of hours a day driving.

Contrasting the start of the year to the finish, a lot of things have been turned around, for which I am very grateful. Not just for me, but for others around me as well. A very good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, and there was a time (as always) when nobody knew what the outcome would be. Today he’s at home recovering from a very successful operation, completely clear of cancerous cells and looking forward to a Christmas and new year filled with laughter, love and excitement. My brothers are both working and enjoying life. My sister got married at the end of November, and is currently on an extended honeymoon. My family are happy, well, and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. And my band Riser are preparing for Christmas Eve, where we are back at our favourite pub to play some great tunes and have some festive fun.

I wanted to write this, rather than just post a standard ‘Happy Christmas’ message, to show that life isn’t always smooth, some times the roller coaster goes up and down a bit quicker than is comfortable, but it isn’t what life throws at you that matters, it’s what you allow to stick. Choose what to allow into your life and what to shrug off, and enjoy the Christmas season.

May the joy and peace of Christmas, the warmth and love of family and friends, and the happiness of the season be with all of my friends and all who read this message, over the coming weeks and throughout 2014.