It’s that time of year again for a lot of folk. The Christmas season – with all its accoutrements – the dressed up shop windows beckoning shoppers to come in and splurge, the interiors with more tempting goodies, the shoppers with children in tow and the swelling Christmas crowds adding to the traffic snarls and pollution. Then there’s cards to get, ‘do’ and mail, gift lists to fulfill, get that tree sorted and then decorated appropriately and finally, figure out the arrangements for the traditional Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those that celebrate in the ‘Anglicized’ tradition, having young children always adds to the fun and sense of excitement and Santa Clause’s appearance is generally an experience that lives in children’s memories for the rest of their lives.
Of childhood memories, I remember well the excitement of Christmas Eve in particular. The tree would be decorated and flashing its colourful lights, the cotton wool ‘snow’ scattered on the branches, the glittering star at the top of the tree, the baubles and other glimmering bits and pieces hanging from the branches and of course the gifts that were wrapped in those very special Christmas gift-wraps with all those Christmassy designs on them carefully arranged at the base of the tree – even for the dogs! And of course the ritual of hanging up the pillow-cases on the bed-stead for Santa to fill with the gifts that had been requested by letter well in advance was very special.
As time went on, the memories changed to include the milk-wine that, for me, just entering my teens, was always something to look forward to with its very special flavour and resulting buzz. The traditional early morning Christmas service followed by the breakfast that had to include the Breudher, Edam cheese and Yule-log and then the visiting of friends and family and of course the reciprocal visits in turn were also regular features of the whole ritual.
Those were the days! No ethnic conflict to worry about or to feel guilty about enjoying this very consumer-oriented tradition when so many would be suffering severe deprivation of even the most basic necessities. No back-biting, scheming, midget-minded politicians, intent on using ‘alien’ traditions as an excuse to further their chauvinistic designs aiming to fragment our diverse social structure. In short, no bullshit to contaminate the spirit of giving and good-cheer.
And so here we are, getting ready for another Christmas in another era, another social structure, another world – and trying like hell to make it work – at least for the children to have an experience that will live in their memories as a time of giving, a time of love and a time of joy.
Have a good one!