Getting Christmas Ready
A week to go for Christmas and all is good. The streets are Christmas ready, shops lit, a buzz in the air. The Christmas sweets have been ordered, cards are being received and sent, holiday plans made and now we are just waiting for the day.
Like we did so many years ago, and continue doing so even today. Has nothing really changed? To me, the change has been slow, not easily recognizable every year, but suddenly the change catches on you. And you wonder, what actually happened in past years, how did we manage? Or who moved my cheese?
The Christmas Crib, Tree, Star, et al
Let’s look at some very small, apparently insignificant items, beginning with the Christmas crib. Earlier years, most cribs were homemade, like the Christmas sweets. It took weeks of preparation. For the crib, the seeds to create the stable scene had to be soaked much in advance. When land was not in such short supply, Christmas trees were actually planted and nurtured over years, and at Christmas decorated with streamers, lanterns and such like home made decor. Not bought off the shelf, like today. The Christmas star and lanterns demanded some craft, along with tissue papers, wooden ribs, glue, etc that needed to be purchased. Family members bent over the handiwork, each helping the other, to put up the best decor. And comparing the same with the previous years efforts and the neighbour’s skills. And how on earth could I have forgotten the famous and traditional Christmas plum cake – where the fruit was soaked in rum a month in advance? Excess consumption of the same has now gotten me addicted to it -the rum, of course! But alas, such cake is often purchased today, and I presume the rum diluted or adulterated.
What about the famous greeting cards that got sent my snail mail? Depending on the receiver, the cards were dispatched. All “Foreign Mail” received first priority, followed by local mail. Cards were also carefully scrutinized according to the addressee. It demanded painstaking efforts in first checking the address list. Then the family sat together with each member assigned a task. One, to write out the cards, taking care that the names were correctly spelt and in the right hereditary order. Another to write out the address. Yet another to sort out the relevant stamps, (correct postage value please else the addressee receives the card and also a bill for less value), stick the stamps to the envelopes and enclose the cards. And Christmas carols sung in the streets, required training at home first! A full “collection box” merited a picnic for the singers.
The Countdown to Christmas
With so much effort and time involved, the family bonding got intensified. Each day was a countdown to Christmas. Have the plums absorbed the rum well? Have the shoots in the crib been watered regularly? (Hey, we missed out on a card to that guy we met last holiday. Do we have his address?). The spirit of the season thus set in much in advance. And Christmas had begun, or rather the prelude or foreplay, which was often better enjoyed than the final day.
After so much preparation I found myself one bright Christmas morning, bumping into a close friend, on a holiday from the oil-rich Gulf States. With much enthusiasm I blurted, “How was Christmas?” Prompt came the response; “Today is Christmas”
So a week in advance – A Merry Christmas to you and enjoy the spirit!