Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spirit of Christmas

It’s the 1st of December on Monday. A day I looked forward to BIG TIME as a kid this was the beginning of the countdown to Christmas. My brother and I always had an Advent calendar taped to the kitchen cabinets and although there were no sweeties behind those doors just traditional pictures, I got really, I mean really (mum & dad will verify) excited at the prospect of opening another door each morning to see what new picture lay in wait (little things eh?...). I never had a chocolate advent calendar. This is not a complaint although at the time I probably thought I was being extremely hard done by. But if you think about it, chocolate Advent calendars were just the beginning of losing the true traditions with material Cadbury ones. This is the 5th year in a row that I have not “Balik Kampung – via MAS”. Last year my Christmas spirit was really lacking – it was not a pleasant roller coaster year’s end for me and so I plan to rectify that this year!!
It’s easy when you have kids because they just bring out the bigger kid in you. Dad used to wind me up a treat on Christmas Eve to the point they just could not calm me down. Families celebrate Christmas in all sorts of different ways, in our house; we had gifts around the tree (these only appeared on the eve as mum couldn’t trust us not to tamper). Tree gifts were from family members. Santa’s offering came in the form of a stocking (aka BIG Santa SACK – think black bin bag size) which would lay at the foot of my bed waiting to be filled with the prerequisite Satsuma, mini box of Sun Maid raisins, Cadbury selection box and a few other delights.
Every year we would lay out the carrots, whisky, mince pies and milk. Double shots, as David had the same offering in his room too. And every year I would wake up in the morning hugely disappointed at once again missing the great man himself, damn! So one year I had a tactic, thought I was being extremely smart, and had a foolproof plan to finally nail the guy. It went like this:
My Santa sack (which by the way was never ever FULL), had a drawstring cord. When I eventually went to bed that night I tied the cord around my neck. Damned if I would miss the big man again, the scenario going round in my little noggin would play out like this: Santa comes in, goes for the sack (tied around my neck) which would in turn literally jolt me awake (obviously I did not see any danger in tying cord round my neck!). Emma Says: “Hello Santa, What ya got me!” Santa Says: “Ahhh, but have you been a good girl?” Well something to that effect, you get the gist!
I woke up the next morning. Eh? What happened? Sly old Santa had cut the cord, buggar or words to that effect that a 6 year old could conjure. And so it was never meant to be, I never did get to meet Him. He still ate the mince pies and downed the whisky, some years it was a tipple of Sherry (maybe that was at the request of Mrs Claus).
What I do remember from those days though is memorable. As a small family, Christmas Day was never huge, and never an extravagant over-indulgence. Christmas meant us kids were able to drink cola and lemonade, eat Quality Street from the BIG tin, have a huge roast Turkey dinner with all the trimmings (no sprouts for me though – still to this day hate them Brussell Sprouts) and snuggle down with the my favourite granddad (God rest his soul) and the rest of the family to watch Indiana Jones or what other repeat BBC was showing for the umpteenth time.
Ok so as a kid I WANTED STUFF, what kid doesn’t, actually what adult doesn’t? But the ‘need’ was over as soon as the decorations were down, holidays over and we were back walking to school in the dreary rain – in life material things don’t last. They can be very expensive, but they don’t last, memories on the other hand last a lifetime.
So this anecdote brings me round to thinking of the current mad economic crisis particularly in the UK. The pound has fallen to 5.5ringgit to the pound this must be the lowest for what 8years?? But still retailers are trying to tempt Brits to SPEND SPEND SPEND with huge discounts on electrical items and the like. Trouble is I know most just can’t afford it, but still the majority feel the need to keep up and lavish kids and loved ones with material LUBBISH. Ask yourself this, do you really need it to have a GREAT day??
This year I will buy a new tree. That will probably be my one and only indulgence. Am I bovered? Not really. I will celebrate this year with my friends and spend on a few token gifts. I will bake and cook and bake some more as this is how I like to spread the Christmas cheer - through my cooking! And although I won’t be with my family, and I am no longer that over-excitable 6year old I will look forward to making memories with friends and celebrating the Spirit of Christmas in the way that I used to; simply, memorable, with party games and drinking. All that material razz-a-ma-tazz; the commercial vultures can keep it!
After all it is not about what you spend. It is who you spend it WITH!

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