The countdown has begun. It’s not just that there are 23 ‘shopping days’ left until Christmas Day, now that we are into the season, we have 23 days to complete all the preparations for the Big One.
This time of year brings to mind an elder who has been a friend of the family for so long that she has become like family. She bakes a Christmas cake which, if it were something like a math equation, would be considered a work of pure genius. That’s how good her Christmas cake is.
We are all hoping she is up to baking again this year. Because, truth be told, some of us have long abdicated the rigors of Christmas preparations and now rely on the hope that others will pick up the slack.
In many a household, this type of behaviour is usually an indication that there are no more little ones around. The kids have all grown up and no one believes in Santa Claus anymore. For your convenience they give you a short list of things they want for Christmas and where, if you are careful with your time management, you can get it on discount. But, regardless of age, everyone will be happy to receive electronics when the unwrapping ritual begins.
On the matter of Christmas purchasing for gift-giving – the very spirit of Santa at this time of year – the first Christmas shopping TV commercials actually ran in September. We all understand the need for the retail sector to build momentum at this make-or-break time, but the ad in September by an online ‘e-tailer’ was pushing it. From that first push at the envelope, the next signal came just before Halloween. The trickle has now become a flood.
The dissatisfaction with this type of ‘early warning system’ is that it takes away from the special feeling of what is meant to be a very special time of year. In the same way that few of us want to see Halloween decorations in August, or smell rice and peas cooking at 6 a.m. Christmas ads in September or even October are really an encroachment.
Have we lost sight of the wisdom that “to every thing there is a season”? Nowhere in that well-known passage does it say ‘stretch the season out as much as conceivably possible to generate more sales’.
When the Christmas season becomes more about the sales than about contemplating a hope for humanity then we really have to question what we are becoming as a society.
But, back to Morgie’s Christmas cake. It’s the kind of creation that is so impressive, even if you have not had it for a few years, the memory will remain with you. It is remarkably moist yet it maintains perfect density. It must be something in the way she steams it, but this is only a guess. Because of the ability of some individuals to create distinctively, even if you follow their directions with precision something gets lost in translation.
The other dimension of her Christmas cake (or is it a pudding?) is the fine balance in the amount of wine or rum that she allows into it. Such people are treasures in our lives and we need to let them know that.
As for the point about the timing of certain seasonally related events? As great as Morgie’s Christmas baking is, the specialness would be lost if she presented her Christmas creation every month of the year. The same goes for the sorrel drink all decked out in cinnamon, orange peel, cloves and pimento. Yes to it in December, no to it in March. Same taste, wrong season.
Despite this protest, it is only fair to admit, however, that in at least one Share columnist’s household a few Christmas decorations remain hanging on the coffee tree all year long.
A note on the Information Age…
For those who care to know and those who have the time to peruse millions of documents the WikiLeaks website is opening up a shipload of previously private communications between diplomats the world over. Is it about freedom of information, or are we now heading out of the Information Age into the TMI – Too Much Information – Age?