By PAT WATSON
Here we are at the first day of December. The Christmas season is now well and truly underway. Or, as the many merchandisers like to remind us, only 23 more shopping days until Christmas.
The annual Santa Claus Parade near the end of November is really the signal (if we needed one) that we are into the merriest time of the year and, once we are into December, there’s no ignoring it.
Yes, we could ‘Bah, humbug’ our way through it, because some of us do get a perverse pleasure out of feeling miserable. But, in a season meant for joy, why not just go with it?
Here then are 10 things to love about the Christmas season:
1. With its spirit of joy and cheerful giving everyone, regardless of their religious faith, can enjoy the positive energy that comes with this time of year. Christmas is first and foremost a Christian celebration marking the birth of Christ, but the positive feeling it brings makes it quite ecumenical.
2. The lights are just magical. If you haven’t done so yet, make a special trip to Nathan Philips Square during the coming days to take in the Christmas lighting that has transformed the square into a wonderland. That also goes for Christmas trees. Is there anyone who has grown up with this Christmas tradition who tires of taking in the beauty of a well decorated tree? And here is a word in support of real trees. They make a home smell terrific and are grown just for this purpose. After Christmas, they are turned into mulch to feed other trees and plants.
3. If you are among that special group of overweight, bald gentleman with a full white beard, you already know what this time of year means. In Toronto, a city of racial and cultural diversity, these Santa-esque individuals add extra magic to the season. Why not say ‘Hi Santa’? Experience shows these Santa look-alikes enjoy taking part in the season this way. Some of them actually do also put on that red suit at this time of year. See your favourite mall for proof.
4. The Christmas windows at the Queen Street Hudson’s Bay store at Christmastime are a tradition that families, especially those with young children, cannot miss. Every year, the lavishly decorated windows are a source of visual delight for one and all.
5. The old Christmas kettles that the Salvation Army used to use for Christmastime fundraising have been replaced by red plastic globes. Even so, there is something personally gratifying about putting whatever money you can into those ‘kettles’. After all, Christmas is a time for giving and sharing.
6. Sorrel drink. This red flower that blooms at just the right time of year in the tropics is the main ingredient for the traditional Christmas drink and so easy to make. If you can brew a cup of tea you can make sorrel for Christmas. Just add you own signature extras: Jamaican ginger, cinnamon or orange peel, pimento or cloves and, if you are so disposed, a little rum. What is a Caribbean Christmas without sorrel?
7. Along the same lines, there is the Christmas cake and all the other grand cuisine that make Christmas stand out from the rest of the year.
8. Christmas means the perfect opportunity to make time for extended family in a busy world. It is the perfect time to treat family like friends and friends like family. If you can’t afford a gift, it is still possible to give a gift of caring time.
9. Giving and receiving gifts. There is a lot of complaining about Christmas shopping – the crowds, the rush and crush of people at the malls, not being able to get what you went for, the prices and so on. But who doesn’t enjoy the anticipation of opening gifts on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve night? Regardless of age, this Christmas ritual never loses its glow.
10. Peace on Earth, goodwill towards all. In a sometimes-cynical world, for those who actually need an excuse to be kind to others, Christmas allows us to do so without apology.
A note on adopting a new radio habit…
New radio station G98.7 (CKFG-FM) featuring music and programming from the Black community has been on the air for almost two months and had its official full program launch this week. So far, it’s been fun tuning in.