“Go to church this Sunday – avoid the Christmas rush.”
My memory tends to throw up some weird word associations. Something’s wrong with the hard drive. There are glitches.
For the first few years after I moved to France, I burst into Christmas carols in June. Once I had worked out that it was because I was used to celebrating Christmas in Summer, the glitch faded away. Now that I’m back in Australia, I have trouble remembering that I have to start preparing for Christmas in Spring. So it always sneaks up on me.
I haven’t the faintest clue what I’m going to get for people. It always seems to work out in the end. But then, I come from a reasonably polite family. Although, I have received the occasional incredulous stare from those not particularly well-endowed with acting skills. My own skills were honed as a child. My mother spent hours making matching Mother and Daughter outfits which we wore to Church on Christmas Day.
I have been seeking gift inspiration from a few different sources. In Louder and Funnier, published in 1963, P. G. Wodehouse wrote:
“The first rule in buying Christmas presents is to select something shiny. If the chosen object is of leather, the leather must look as if it had been well greased; if of silver, it must gleam with the light that never was on sea or land. This is because the wariest person will often mistake shininess for expensiveness.”
I don’t think that it has anything to do with price. Christmas, before being called Christmas, was a celebration of Light. Days were lengthening again just after the solstice.
The Christian Church decided that this pagan feast would henceforth celebrate the coming of the Light into the world in human form. With its new name, Christmas continued to be related to shiny things that reflect the light.
Although we appear to have forgotten the origins of this very ancient feast, we still have memory glitches that throw up shiny things when we think of Christmas. Unless you are a child. Children rarely have glitches when it comes to Christmas. The only word that their memories tend to throw up at this time of year is Presents.
In 1950, Marcelene Cox, writing in the Ladies’ Home Journal, put it this way:
“Our children await Christmas presents like politicians getting election returns; there’s the Uncle Fred precinct and the Aunt Ruth district still to come in.”
While looking for gift advice from those older and wiser than myself, I came across something which my gentlemen readers might find useful. It’s from Oscar Wilde. He wrote it in 1895, in An Ideal Husband:
“One should never give a woman anything she can’t wear in the evening.”
That is so true. And of course, if it’s Christmas, it must be shiny too. Hint. Hint.