At this time of year, few sights evoke more feelings of cheer and goodwill than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.
The popularity of a tree at Christmas is due in part to my great-great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. After this touching picture was published, many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread.
In 1949, I spent Christmas in Malta as a newly-married naval wife. We have returned to that island over the years, including last month for a meeting of Commonwealth leaders; and this year I met another group of leaders: The Queen’s Young Leaders, an inspirational group, each of them a symbol of hope in their own Commonwealth communities.
Gathering round the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead – I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have Happy Birthday sung to me more than once or twice. It also allows us to reflect on the year that has passed, as we think of those who are far away or no longer with us. Many people say the first Christmas after losing a loved one is particularly hard. But it’s also a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for.
It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’.
One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War. On VJ Day, we honoured the remaining veterans of that terrible conflict in the Far East, as well as remembering the thousands who never returned.
The procession from Horse Guards Parade to Westminster Abbey must have been one of the slowest ever, because so many people wanted to say ‘thank you’ to them.
At the end of that war, the people of Oslo began sending an annual gift of a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square. It has 500 light bulbs and is enjoyed not just by Christians but by people of all faiths, and of none. At the very top sits a bright star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert’s time. For his family’s tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.
For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth – in a stable – were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country. It’s no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.
Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.
One of the joys of living a long life is watching one’s children, then grandchildren, then great grandchildren, help decorate the Christmas tree. And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun!
The customary decorations have changed little in the years since that picture of Victoria and Albert’s tree first appeared, although of course electric lights have replaced the candles.
There’s an old saying that ‘it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’.
There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today. Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives.
I wish you a very happy Christmas.
圣诞致辞这个传统最早开始于女王的爷爷乔治五世。1932年，BBC创始人约翰.里斯爵士(Sir John Reith)向国王提议，让他在当年的圣诞通过无线广播对英联邦国家发表圣诞致辞。乔治五世在亲自参观BBC的广播设备后欣然应允，并在当年发表了英国王室的第一次圣诞致辞。
标准英文被称为RP (Received Pronunciation)，能说一口标准的RP，是一件极有面子的事情。英国的贵族阶层所说的英文，被称为“Upper RP”，听起来大概是《唐顿庄园》里的感觉，高大上得不得了。不过，在“Upper RP”的上面，还有更高一级的英文，那就是女王英文了。理论上说，女王的英文就是英文的典范，最典范的英文就被为“Queen’s English”。
- The problems which face mankind often seem to defy solution. (1964)
- It was the human conflicts and the wanton acts of crime and terror against fellow human beings which have so appalled us all. (2001)
- Frankly I do not myself feel at all like my great Tudor forebear. (1953)
- Naturally I see more such people in Britain. (1985)
英语中被经常使用的句子副词包括：actually, apparently, basically, briefly, certainly, clearly, conceivably, confidentially, curiously, evidently, fortunately, hopefully, however, ideally, incidentally, indeed, interestingly, ironically, naturally, predictably, presumably, regrettably, seriously, surprisingly, thankfully, theoretically, therefore, truthfully, ultimately, wisely.
尤其当你把一个副词转换成它的形容词的形式，使用“It is … that”觉得别扭的时候，就更不应该来使用这个句子副词。
3. 用错“Each Other”
- The march of history stops while we listen to each other. (1955)
- I hope we will all help each other to have a happy Christmas. (1987)
语法家认为：“each other”仅仅用于两个人之间，如果想表达一堆人之间，应该使用“one another”。
- For my husband and myself and for our children, the year that is passing has added to our store of happy memories. (1955)
- I am sure that many of you, like myself, have been impressed by the courage they show. (1981)
- Co-operation between Commonwealth countries grows every year. (1960)
- May the New Year bring reconciliation between all people. (1976)
Some people are uncertain which star to follow, or if any star is worth following at all. (1962)
- And further north still live the Eskimos. (1970)
- So take heart from the Christmas message and be happy. (1975)
- But to look back in that way is to look down a blind alley. (1996)
- There is nothing in heaven and earth that cannot be achieved by faith and by love and service to one’s neighbour. (1961)
- The results of their kindness will be appreciated by young people. (1977)
- The world was a very different place to the one we live in today. (1991)
10. “Might have” 还是 “May have”?
在该用“may have”的地方，女王用了“might have”。看下面这句话：
- Many of you might have felt a twinge of sadness as we in Britain bade them farewell. (1997)
- King James may not have anticipated quite how important sport and games where to become in promoting harmony. (2010)
12. “Forcibly” or “Forcefully”？
- What struck me more forcibly than his physical courage was the fact that he made no reference to his own illness. (1992)
- In talking to the veterans, I was forcibly reminded of the detachment with which those personally unaffected by violence can view its effect on others. (1995)
- Time is moving on rather quicker than we expected. (1987)
- Time is moving on rather more quickly than we expected.
- … the right of citizens to assemble, and to speak and argue. (1964)
- … the freedom to travel and learn. (1998)
- … the right of citizens to assemble, to speak, and to argue.
- … the freedom to travel and to learn.
- We all need the kind of security that one gets from a happy and united family. (1958)
- It is no easy task to care for and bring up children, whatever your circumstances —whether you are famous or quite unknown.
- It is no easy task to care for and bring up children, in whatever circumstances — whether one is famous or quite unknown.
给大家举一个例子，在1965年，女王的致辞里有“helping the poor”这样简单直接的表达，而在2009年，同样表达“帮助穷人”，她用了“ease the burden of deprivation and disadvantage”。中国有“弱势群体”一说，女王的后一句话中的“deprivation and disadvantage”不正是“弱势群体”最恰当的英文对应吗！
据说，女王的圣诞致辞均出自她自己之手，非秘书帮忙。之所以如此，因为女王不仅是名义上的政治首脑，更是英国国教(Church of England)的领袖，在圣诞这天亲自执笔并祝福她的子民，是她最为君主的责任。