Christmas and family: the royals are among those who won’t all be together today

The Grumbles prefer fir.


Christmas is a big family occasion for the Grumbles, as it is for many people.

But a quick glimpse at the on-line news this Christmas morning shows experiences around the country – and the world – differ markedly.

For starters, some families might not be able to get together because of sickness.

Most notably, this includes the Royal Family: Prince Philip has been laid low and is in hospital.

On the other hand, some families won’t get together because some of them are behind bars.

So how generously will the taxpayer be treating these law-breakers?

Stuff gives the answer –

Inmates at Manawatu Prison will be served meat and three vegetables followed by apple pie and custard on Christmas Day.

The prison, which houses about 200 inmates, will serve the same Christmas Day meal as is being offered in all 18 Corrections-run New Zealand prisons.

The $4 lunch meals consist of roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, and bread, along with the apple pie and custard for dessert.

Personally, Alf regards the apple pie and custard as an extravagance which he would withhold. Come to think of it, the same goes for the roast chicken.

But hey, it’s Christmas. He won’t make a fuss next time he bumps into wotz-her-name – oh, yes, Anne Tolley – our new Minister of Corrections.

If he had any say in the matter, however, Alf would have added to the numbers of prison inmates by rounding up and jailing all those involved in a disgraceful scene at Wellington railway station.

He refers to news that rush-hour commuters at Wellington Railway Station were startled when a mob of Santas launched into a sackfight on Friday afternoon.

The flash mob, organised by local group Adventure Wellington, struck just after 5pm as workers and last minute Christmas shoppers filed through the station.

The Santas took to each other with pre-prepared sacks full of feathers, as passersby looked on.

It was the first flash mob the group has organised, and more than 30 Santas took part.

Alf is sure impressionable children would have been among those who witnessed this shabby spectacle.

Their image of a genial and generous Father Christmas would have been thoroughly shattered by the antics of 30 Santa look-alikes. Who knows what psychological damage will have been inflicted?

Much more agreeable news comes from The Boss in a report about him being “just like the rest of us” when it comes to Christmas.

Well, not quite like all of us, surely. At least, he’s not like the buggers banged up in jail or the tossers who engaged in the Santa fight.

And he’s not exactly like Alf, when it comes to Christmas.

The Prime Minister is spending Christmas at home, before heading to Hawaii on the 27th.

Alf is spending his Christmas with a son and other family members in Taihape and is not going to Hawaii afterwards.

Oh, and there’s another difference.

When it comes to the Christmas tree the Key household is like 71 percent of New Zealand homes…they go for a fake one too.

Not the Grumbles.

We’ve got a proper tree. Alf chopped it down himself, fully aware of the implications for climate change.

The most shattering Christmas news comes from Buckingham Palace officials who say Prince Philip is expected to spend a second night in a hospital where he is recovering from a heart procedure.

Prince Philip, 90, had a coronary stent put in yesterday to fix a blocked artery.

The palace has refused to say if he had a heart attack, apparently, although when you are Philip’s age the old ticker is bound to be a bit dodgy.

But he was admitted to hospital after experiencing chest pains at the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

The illness has cast a shadow over the royal family’s traditional Christmas gathering at Sandringham the first to include Prince William’s new wife, Catherine. Buckingham Palace said Philip is not expected to attend church Sunday with his family, but that the service will go on as planned.

Philip is reported to be “in good spirits, but he is eager to leave” hospital, which is not surprising, because in Alf’s experience hospital tucker is not the sort of thing that should be served to royalty.

Come to think of it, the Christmas dinner being served to the prison inmates is probably better.

As to the medical stuff –

Coronary stenting is standard procedure both to fend off a heart attack or save a patient already in the midst of one, said Dr. Allan Schwartz, chief of cardiology at New York-Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center.

Just last month Philip and Her Majesty marked 64 years of marriage.

True, he has been known to enjoy good health throughout his life and rarely misses royal engagements.

But he is obviously slowing down, because on his 90th birthday in June he announced plans to cut back his official duties.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s health has implications for members of the public who gather each year to catch a glimpse of the royals walking to Sunday’s traditional church services.

They most likely will not see Philip, but Buckingham Palace said it does not expect changes to the rest of the royal family’s Christmas agenda.

This includes the Christmas address to all Her Majesty’s loyal subjects.

Another key part of the royal family’s Christmas celebrations is the queen’s annual message to the nation, which this year will focus on family and community.

The queen has made a prerecorded Christmas broadcast on radio since 1952 and on television since 1957. She writes the speeches herself, and the broadcasts mark the rare occasion on which the queen voices her own opinion without government consultation.

Listening to this speech is a highlight of the Grumbles’ Christmas. Alf stands to attention during its delivery and holds a Union Jack.

He does not expect all his constituents to stand to attention, too, but he does hope they listen to Her Majesty and that they pray for Prince Philip’s recovery.

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