Pity the poor Santas in warm places around the world. Those big boots, the hat, the beard. Imagine doing that in temperatures of 30 degrees. But it happens – every single year. Growing up in South Africa it was common to see Santa on the street in front of the malls ringing his bell and spreading good cheer. Even in sleepy little Mbabane in the hills of Swaziland where my children grew up we had a Santa. In fact the tradition is still going strong as I saw from recent posts of my Swaziland friend.
Throughout Africa Santa is a welcome visitor and you may see him not just in the fancy shopping malls but even in the middle of nowhere working hard to spread good cheer.
Whew – that looks hot. Never fear – technology is here with a specially designed Santa cooling vest. I kid you not. This would come in handy in some of these very hot destinations. Some Santas have it figured out however and were lucky enough to find a billet on board Paul Gauguin cruises in Tahiti.
Most of us (adults at least …. don’t tell the kids) know that Santa Clause derives from St Nicholas as the internet tells us (Mr Google just knows everything) – “The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. … By the Renaissance, St. Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.” Well of course he would be the most popular saint who arrives every year bearing good tidings and gifts.
Many of us also have read the story that the Santa Claus as we know him today with the red suit was invented by Coca Cola to promote their product – but again – Mr Google sets us straight on this –
“Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through Haddon Sundblom‘s depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company‘s Christmas advertising in the 1930s. The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that Santa Claus was invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the Coca-Cola brand. Historically, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising—White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and then in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923. Earlier still, Santa Claus had appeared dressed in red and white and essentially in his current form on several covers of Puck magazine in the first few years of the 20th century. “
There are however some Santas who cope very well with the heat – but then they know how to dress. I was going to finish off with a picture of an over-heated Santa. So I searched online for “hot Santa” and got this ….. I think it’s a keeper!
Long line up at the cash register ….
No parking at the mall ….
High interest on the credit card …..
5 pounds extra on the scale ….
Huge piles of gift wrap for recycling ….
Lists, lists and more lists …..
Too late for Canada Post ….
Too expensive by Fedex …
Too tired to do any more ….
WAIT A MINUTE…..
Gifts piled under the tree ….
White Christmas by Bing Crosby reminds me of my dad ….
Turkey roasting smells fill the kitchen ….
Snow outside sparkles in the sun ….
Children’s giggles ….
Paper tearing ….
Champagne corks popping …
Hugs and kisses ….
Nothing better ….
I turned over a new leaf this year – buried my Scrooge like attitudes and behaviour – went out and bought a real Christmas Tree. I thought all would be fine. But strange things are happening in my house.
First of all this tree is thirsty – it drinks up to four litres of water a day. What the heck? Who knew that a Christmas tree would drink that much water. It’s weird. It’s like it is hanging on to dear life with every ounce of its being. Makes me feel bad. Like wearing a fur. Should people really be chopping down innocent trees who were just standing there in the forest, breathing in the fresh air, waving their arms around and generally having a peaceful co-existence with the forest.
Nobody really knows if plants feel. There have been tests and some say that flowers scream when they are plucked or picked. Ouch. Now that makes me feel bad too. If a tulip can scream what does a big tree do when it is chopped down?
Remember the protests in BC when “tree huggers” climbed up the trees and camped out up there to prevent loggers coming in and cutting down them down?
Secondly the tree is growing. Truly – like tulips do in a glass of water this tree is growing daily. It is touching the ceiling and now it is bending – maybe it is getting soggy. Will it last the season? Maybe it is trying to escape.
I think I am going to start having bad dreams.
I am known in my family as Scrooge – because the frenzy and consumerism of Christmas just makes me want to escape altogether to a land where Christmas was never heard of.
And then I had what Oprah would call an Ah Ha moment. My 5 year old granddaughter asked me –
“Mama – why do you hate Chrithmath?”…. oh my goodness. I stopped and really thought. Had I really turned into such a Grinch? What would I have thought about such an attitude when I was a kid. Maybe it was time for an attitude adjustment. I started to think about Christmas and what it meant to me.
Christmas Past ….. growing up poor with my father constantly away on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the world my mom somehow managed to make Christmas an amazing experience for us kids. One of the best gifts we received was a Games Compendium (yes that’s what they used to call them) with drafts, snakes and ladders and Chinese checkers. We were delighted and grateful. Then things got a little better – Dad came home, got a promotion and we were allowed to lay pillow cases on the bottom of our beds for Father Christmas. He was a little clumsy however. One Christmas Eve “Father Christmas” dropped my walkie talkie doll on the floor and I woke up to a muttered “Oh shit!”.
Christmas Present ….. now that I have grandchildren I should be reliving all those wonderful memories through their eyes. OK it’s a little different now – they want Ipods and Monster High dolls – but the excitement and anticipation is still the same. They love to help with decorating the Christmas tree and even though the decorations don’t exactly go in all the right places – that’s fine with me.
Christmas Future …… where will I be in 10 years time over Christmas? Well hopefully still on this planet. Hopefully enjoying a glass of red wine with some Christmas treats while the kids and grand kids play with their new toys. Yes there is something to be said for this whole Christmas thing – it brings families together – across the country – across the world. So maybe it’s not all about the money and the gifts – that’s just the tinsel on the tree. Maybe the whole thing is actually just about love.
There…. I feel better now! Hey…. I feel my heart growing!
It’s supposed to be the season of good will. The season when we do the right thing – tell the truth, remember to say thank you, think of others. It doesn’t always work that way. Take the Christmas letter – you know – that annual letter that is typed out and popped into the Christmas cards. What is it about those letters? You get one, sit down and read it and then realise that your past year has just been a disaster compared with this amazing family who seem to have perfect children all with PhD’s and pets that don’t poop on the carpet. It’s really nothing more than a brag fest.
Instead of reading about how Jane has met the perfect young man who happens to be a heart specialist and is already wealthy in his own right, despite the fact that his father is one of the moguls of industry …. imagine this….
Dear Friend, I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to Christmas. If you are ready perhaps you could come round and give me a hand. I still haven’t put up a single Christmas decoration. I did drag the box upstairs but then the dog got into it and swallowed a whole bunch of tinsel so I ended up at the vet – which you know is going to cost me hundreds – because they had to give him an enema to get rid of the sparkly bits. So by the time I got home it was a bit of a job to get the carpet sorted out. By this time Jeff had come home to tell me that his girlfriend is pregnant and they are getting married. He has to quit school now and he is only 17 so I don’t know where that leaves us. He says there is plenty of room in the basement, if only I can move the rest of the Christmas decorations. Of course his girlfriend’s dad is mad with Jeff and it’s not made any easier with her dad being my boss. Talk about awkward. I went to see my doctor about these headaches and he says it’s stress – is he kidding? He said that if we were in the States he could give me a prescription for medical marijuana but seeing as we live in Canada I will just have to make do on paxil. I suppose I could always use some of Jeff’s – marijuana that is …. but then you don’t know about that so forget I said it. Oh… have to rush…. the dog just threw up three glass baubles and half a Santa….. Happy Christmas.
Now friends like that I can handle! So for all of you out there who are not perfect at this Christmas stuff – from one amateur to another – have the best Christmas ever!
Next Christmas I am definitely heading out of town – somewhere hot would be nice. A beach, a margarita and Feliz Navidad would suit me just fine. I know it is a crazy time to travel – that’s what I tell my clients. Everything is overpriced and overcrowded. Airline staff are grumpy, baggage handlers unreliable and there is not a spare seat on the plane. At the beach you can forget about getting a beach chair without at least bribing ten people first and if you are at one of those all inclusive resorts where the speciality dining requires reservations that morning – good luck with the queue.
So why would I put myself through that hell rather than stay at home in this “lesser hell” of crowded shopping centres, crying children and excesses of spending, eating and drinking? You see, Christmas just doesn’t seem the same any more. I know, I know – I am not 6 years old any more and if I had to line up and sit on Santa’s knee at the shopping centre – well let’s not go there.
I honestly don’t think I am going to find anywhere in the world that hasn’t fallen victim to the Christmas Commerce Bug. Even in Hanoi and Siem Reap Christmas trees popped up on every corner and shops were lavishly decorated in Saigon with wintry scenes of sleighs and frosty trees. I guess if I really want to escape it altogether I might find a corner maybe in Papua New Guinea or in Nepal? Any ideas or recommendations would be welcomed.
In the meantime I will busy myself with taking down the Christmas tree. Funny how everyone wants to help with putting the damn thing up – no-one ever wants to pack it away. That’s OK – I am in the right job to spend a whole year dreaming and planning for a Christmas where Santa won’t be….. I know! The North Pole. Not exactly a beach but hey – maybe I get to see some polar bears – now that would be cool!