Christmas Morsels

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it “Christmas” and went to church; the Jews called it “Hanukka” and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukka!” or (to the atheists) “Look out for the wall!”
~ Dave Barry

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It’s going to be 35 degrees on Christmas Day. That’s in Celsius, by the way. As in, Bloody Hot. Needless to say, lunch will not be a hot roast. And you can keep your pudding and brandy custard. Ice cream all the way, baby.

Now, I can imagine my Northern Hemisphere friends are trying to wrap their heads around a Christmas Day with sunshine, heat, a cold lunch and flies. And why wouldn’t you? It’s not the common conception of Christmas, is it?

See, we here in the Southern Hemisphere have the advantage of being able to simultaneously understand both a hot and a cold Christmas given the plethora of snowy Christmas TV specials and movies that abound in the global culture in conjunction with our actual experience of Christmas. Pity, then, those in the wintry Christmas lands who are spared the equivalent televisual experience of a baking Christmas (and I’m not talking about cookies). I imagine one can count on one hand the number of Christmas movies set down south of the world.

So you may or may not understand this song.

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I do like Christmas on the whole…. In its clumsy way, it does approach Peace and Goodwill. But it is clumsier every year.
~ E.M. Forster

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Last year someone suggested to me that I should be developing my own Christmas traditions rather than just perpetuating the ones from my childhood. I found this mildly confusing as I thought that was the whole point of tradition. Also, given my boys were already teenagers, it seemed a bit late to be starting new traditions.

Then, at an event this year, we were asked to bring along something that represented a Christmas tradition for our family. Uh oh.

I conveniently forgot to take anything.

But a few days later, as we decorated the Christmas tree, I realised that we had established a new Christmas tradition. Introduced two years ago, we have our own special tree-topper that minds our Christmas tree each year now.

Why have a standard star or cutesy angel on the top of your tree when you can have one of the most terrifying monsters ever to come out of Steven Moffat’s frightening head? #ChristmasWeepingAngel #WeAreNotInsane

I can’t wait for the next opportunity to share that Christmas tradition.

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In a wonderful book I was given for Christmas by a dear friend, I learnt that you can learn the twelve cranial nerves to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. It might be my new favourite carol.

On the first nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
My sense olfactory.

On the second nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:
Two eyes a-looking,
And my sense olfactory.

And so on, the last verse being:

On the twelfth nerve of the cranium,
my true love gave to me:

Twelve lovely lickings, (Hypoglossal)
Eleven heads a-tilting, (Spinal accessory)
Ten heartbeats a minute, (Vagus)
Nine quick swallows, (Glossopharyngeal)
Eight sounds, and balance, (Auditory)
Seven funny faces, (Facial)
Six sideways glances, (Abducens)
Mas-ti-ca-tion! (Trigeminal)
Four superior oblique muscles, (Trochlear)
Three cross-eyed glances, (Oculomotor)
Two eyes a-looking, (Optic)
And my sense olfactory. (Olfactory)

Just because.

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Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That’s why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Half the parcels I’ve been waiting on (stocked full of Christmas presents for the boys) haven’t arrived. It’s a common phenomenon apparently.

Sucks to be a postie at this time of year.

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Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.
~ Johnny Carson

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To all my friends, family members, fellow bloggers, and random strangers who came here by mistake, I wish you all the appropriate greetings for the celebration of your choice and hope that the coming year brings all of the things you want and none of the things you don’t. And may we all find peace on earth.

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I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
~ David Grayson

 
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I do not think it means what you think it means

I was walking past the shops the other day and a woman approaching looked past me and said cheerily, “Hello. How are you, Peter?” The man behind me stopped and said, “Not too good, actually.” The woman smiled awkwardly and hurried into the shop. Peter stood for a moment and then slowly continued on his way.

One of my favourite films is The Princess Bride. One favourite scene (oh, there are so many) is when Inigo has had enough of Vizzini’s use of the word “Inconceivable!” whenever things don’t go quite the way he was expecting. “You keep using that word,” Inigo tells him. “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

We use words all the time that don’t necessarily hold to their true meaning. When something is ‘cool’ it often doesn’t mean that it’s at a lower temperature.

“How are you?” has now become synonymous with “Hello.” We often say it without even realising it’s a question. We certainly don’t expect an answer. Or if we do, we expect a stock standard response. “Good, thanks.” (I had a friend when I was a child whose father would pick on me if I said that. “Are you good? Should I check with your parents?” I soon learned to say, “I’m quite well, thank you.”)

We’ve become so automatic with this phrase that I’ve had people respond when I haven’t even said it. “Hello.” “I’m well, thank you.” Right.

I’m a terrible liar and I would make a hopeless poker player. If my life is not going well, I’m not much good at hiding it. But I’ve learnt to answer most “How are you?” greetings with a pre-prepared response of “I’m okay, thanks. How are you?” because I know most people don’t actually want to know how my day is going.

How are you

Of course, many of our interactions are necessarily kept on a casual level. I’m pretty sure the bank teller doesn’t really want to know that my father is very ill or that I’m worried about my kids.

But maybe it’s time to reclaim the phrase “How are you?” and to use it in the way it was intended. Maybe we should start answering the question honestly when we’re asked. If someone doesn’t really want to know, they’ll soon learn to say something else. “Hello. Nice to see you.” We should ask the question as if we mean it and be prepared for an answer.

I wanted to turn around to that man called Peter and ask him why things weren’t good and if he was okay but I didn’t. I wish I had. Who knows, I may have been the first person to really ask him “How are you?”

 

 

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