MacPhail: Why I’m just loving the festive season

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The most wonderful time of the year is once again upon us and the snowy weather of last weekend set off the magic of the mid-winter celebrations with the perfect blast of cold and Christmas colours.

This is my favourite time of the year and being stranded in Perth last weekend because of snow and ice on the roads was the perfect way to enter the spirit of the season.

Like many others who had planned to get to our concert in Perth, I thought at points on the A9 heading south, having left from Elgin, that I would not arrive in time. With treacherous driving conditions and various minor accidents blocking the way, I had resigned myself to the probability that the gig might have to be cancelled.

All things considered, it was with great relief that we reached Perth safely and, although many concert-goers were late to arrive or didn’t risk the roads and stayed at home, the excitement of the snowy journeys made added to the atmosphere and gave the perfect foundation for feeling the excitement of approaching Yuletide.

The after-concert celebrations that resulted from our unplanned stay in Perth were similarly enjoyed all the more for their unexpected occurrence.

Sitting comfortably in a cosy hotel by a roaring fire with a dram and eating mince pies at 2am was a very fine end to the night.

Constant reference points in our lives are important for keeping a stable platform of existence in the fast-changing and ever-moving mayhem of the modern world.

The joy of anticipation for Christmas is one of the strongest of these ropes of reference and they are tethered powerfully to our own past and the history of mankind.

For thousands of years, celebrations of the winter solstice have been an ingrained part of life in this part of the world and the merging of Christian traditions into these ancient customs to create what we know today as Christmas have added greatly to the significance of this annual time of goodwill, feasting and rest.

As well as the long history of Christmas, we all have personal memories and references built up over our own lifetimes and these merge with tradition to create the feelings that make it such a huge part of our lives.

Simple things such as the sounds of Christmas carols, the aroma of mulled wine and Christmas pudding, the illumination of decorations outside houses and the sight of CalMac ferries in Oban Bay adorned with Christmas lights spark some of my own favourite seasonal associations.

Apart from a couple of gigs in, for us, the new territories of Dumfries and Galashiels, the rest of our festive musical celebrations take place in Oban Times and Skipinnish home grounds of Argyll and Lochaber. Campbeltown, Oban, Dunoon and Fort William are always memorable places to play at any time of the year but over the festive period the partying will be particularly jolly and we are very much looking forward to celebrating with you all!

I hope the wild winter weather won’t jeopardise the gigs but I will happily be stranded in any of these places for an unexpected after-party!

To Oban Times readers and Skipinnish fans, I wish you all a very merry Christmas.