The Write Way
25 December 2009
Merry Christmas to you and yours -- wherever you are and whatever your beliefs. As I've noted on the website -- we're all in this together, Kids! (And if you're interested in writing, take a moment to stop by and pick up some excellent FREE ebooks, programs and gadgets to help you!)
Last week, we chatted about some Imaginary Friends, and this week it's time to greet the Ultimate Imaginary Friend ... Santa!
But first, a little background ...
We moved to our current home a couple of weeks before Christmas several years ago (last century actually ... and doesn't that sound odd?!) and were sitting out on our front verandah one evening when we heard the unmistakable sounds of Christmas Carols coming closer and closer. Intrigued, we stood up to see who it was with the loud car radio. To our surprise, it wasn't a car, but a sleigh, complete with Santa holding the reins and a scrawny, bored elf seated next to him.
You can imagine my surprise when the sleigh stopped outside our new house, Santa picked up his microphone and said, "Hello, Jenny Stewart!"
I couldn't believe it and uttered the words my family has never let me forget: "Santa knows my name!" I said.
It was one of those spontaneous comments that has been misinterpreted with glee ever since. So let me set the record straight:
1. I don't believe in Santa
2. I knew full well that it wasn't Santa in the sleigh
3. I knew it wasn't a real sleigh
4. I knew it was someone from the local Council just dressed up to look like Santa (sorry, Kids)
... But how did Santa know my name?
We'd only been in the house a matter of days ... I didn't for one moment believe that our Council was organised enough to have a database containing the name of every resident on the route so Santa could scan it as he entered each street.
So how did Santa know who I was?
I puzzled over this for days up to and after Christmas, until the fellow who was building the granny flat for my mum arrived to complete the conversion, and he asked if I'd been surprised when Santa knew my name.
"How did you know about that?" I asked.
His wicked grin was anything but Santa-like as he finally 'fessed up and told us his daughter worked for the Council and always roped him in as Santa each year. He'd seen us standing on the front verandah and just wanted to make us feel welcome.
Each year in the week or so before Christmas, we look forward to the sound of sleigh bells echoing through our humid summer evenings as Santa's sleigh does the rounds of the streets. The sound alerts all the ankle-biters in the street, so they come pouring out of nooks and crannies like so many angry little ants when you poke their nest with a stick.
Santa and the elf then disperse red and green lollies with gay abandon and send the kiddies back to their demented parents even more hyped up, then with cheery "Ho-ho-ho!" Santa heads sedately up the street in search of more childish hearts to gladden.
So that's how it has worked for the past 20+ years, until this year, when Council declared it was cutting costs and Santa's sleigh got the chop.
As you can imagine, this cost-cutting measure went down like a lead balloon, and Council was forced to explain that no, they didn't really mean that they were going to axe Santa's sleigh. Goodness me, no ... Where did the rate-payers get such a silly idea. Council loves little children ... all the councillors love Santa. Christmas is one of Council's favourite times of year. And, of course, Santa's sleigh would still be doing the rounds again this year.
And do the rounds it did.
A couple of days ago, we heard the familiar tunes coming closer and closer ... We got up and began to make our way to the front to watch the tiny tots across the road as their little eyes lit up with delight at the approach of Santa. But as we got half-way across the lounge room, there was a whooshing sound from the street, a flash of coloured lights and Santa and his sleigh sped past at the speed of light.
Tiny children were running down the street, anguished parents were waving their arms as they rushed in pursuit of the Man in Red, but Santa and his elf had other fish to fry. They were obviously late for a very important date and the rest of the world be buggered.
We stood there, watching the disappointed children walk dejectedly back up the street as their parents tried to explain why Santa wouldn't stop, and we listened as the sounds of carols roared up and down neighbouring streets like a tortured banshee being pursued by a man wielding a spear of light and a salt-shaker.
There's just nothing like the spirit of Christmas ...
And here are a couple of wonderful terms that I'm sure you'll be able to use over the Silly Season:
Immaculate Congestion: when traffic is backed up for miles on a highway, crawling along -- and then suddenly everyone returns to normal high speeds without passing an accident, stalled car or road construction.
e.g. We spent 45 minutes bumper-to-bumper for no reason? It must be immaculate congestion.
Cashmas: The primary holiday celebrated in capitalist cultures. Generally observed around the winter solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere!), Cashmas is a celebration of materialism in which its celebrants attempt to flatter or impress relatives, friends and acquaintances with the extent of their purchasing power. (The "power to get".) Cashmas co-opts signs, symbols and sympathies from other religious holidays of the winter season to mask its foundation of conspicuous consumption.
e.g. Jodi spent 14 hours at the mall in celebration of Cashmas.
who continues to subject themselves to Christmas activities -- Secret Santa,
carolling, etc. -- despite feeling painfully awkward at the event.
Christmabyss: The conspicuous absence and lack of communication from all your friends who celebrate the Christmas holiday (both secular and religious) due to family commitments and/or over-consumption of alcohol on Christmas Eve. The Abyss can normally be observed on December 25th.
e.g. A: Man, where is everyone? I can't get a hold of anyone today.
B: They must have fallen into the Christmabyss.
All these t'riffically useful terms come from here.
Here's a little puzzle to ponder as you wait for Santa to appear ...
The night before Christmas, an honest politician, a kind lawyer and Santa Claus were travelling in the lift of a very posh hotel. Just before the doors opened they all noticed a $5 note lying on the floor. Which one picked it up?
Santa of course, the other two don't exist!
And because this is a sentimental time of year, I thought we'd revisit some Christmases we've shared in the past ...
The exercise tips you may find useful after all the feasting of the next few days
Those tears we shed at being orphans
And then there was the woman who went to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.
She said to the clerk, "May I have 50 Christmas stamps?"
"What denomination?" asked the clerk.
"Stone the crows!" exclaimed the woman, "Has it come to this?" Then she sighed, "Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 22 Baptists."
Thank you to all the eagle-eyed readers who spotted my - er - deliberate error last week. Yes, of course I was just checking to see who was paying attention and who was reading a comic under the desk!
I hasten to assure you that I do know the difference between principal and principle ... really.
“Principal” is a noun and adjective referring to someone or something which is highest in rank or importance, whereas “principle” is only a noun and it refers to a standard, law or doctrine: “The teachers fought hard to convince the principal to introduce the principle of collective bargaining.”
"The principal products of Robertson are potatoes and cheese."
Sigh ... sorry about that ... another Senior Moment!
This week's quiz:
OK ... now it doesn't matter whether you're a Believer or not, see if you can match up these Christmassy terms:
advent, wassail, tinsel, mistletoe, Boxing Day, epiphany, myrrh, Ruprecht, St Nicholas, yule
1. the four week period preceding Christmas which serves as a time of reflection for Believers in preparation for the celebration of the Nativity
2. Bishop in Asia Minor, now Turkey, in the 4th century, later to become Saint Nicholas of Myra; had the habit of helping people less fortunate than himself by leaving gifts or money for them, the precursor to the modern day tradition of Santa Claus
3. semi-parasitic plant that grows on certain types of trees, typified by the sticky substance surrounding the seed which helps it to attach to a potential host when excreted by birds; used as a Christmas decoration
4. long strands of glittery paper used as Christmas decorations
5. the day after Christmas day when presents are given to extended family and friends; possibly dating from the Middle Ages when the householder would give presents to the servants and tradesmen; public holiday in some Commonwealth countries (We get a day off Down Under!)
6. ancient pagan festival celebrating the Winter Solstice and the coming spring around the 21st of December; merged with, and became synonymous with, the Christmas celebration
7. extract from the Commiphora tree, used in ancient times in anointing and embalming oils and more recently as an anti-microbial agent; in the Christian religion is one of the gifts brought to Jesus by the Wise Men
8. dark and sinister companion to St Nicholas who puts the naughty children into his sack
9. life changing event; the last of the 12 days of Christmas; celebrates the revelation of Christ to the gentiles, as represented by the visiting Wise Men
10. from the Middle English "Waes Haeil", meaning to be in good health, the custom of toasting to each other's health, a custom that has woven itself into Christmas traditions
You may wish to remember this before you head out to sing Carols ...
One night Freda went carol
Freda went on singing for half an
hour, every carol she knew -- and some she didn't. At last she stopped. 'I
understand,' she said softly, 'You're remembering your happy childhood Christmas
days. You're a sentimentalist!'
Last week's quiz:
clairvoyance, poltergeist, simulacra, amulet, vortex, banshee, ectoplasm, demon, ignis fatuus, telekinesis
1. phosphorescent or spectral light that that is alleged to be an indication of death. This phenomenon is thought to be caused by spontaneous combustion of gases emitted by rotting organic matter - IGNIS FATUUS
2. an object that is thought to bring good luck or have the power to protect from ghosts or spirits and ward off evil - AMULET
3. demonic or parasitic entity that feeds upon human remains - DEMON
4. acute insight or perceptiveness that enables you to see objects or events that cannot be perceived by the senses in the form of mental imagery and intuition - CLAIRVOYANCE
5. the seeing of faces, figures and images in ordinary, everyday object such as rocks, foliage, etc. - SIMULACRA
6. wailing spirit or “death omen” that will appear to be in two different places at the same time - BANSHEE
7. the power to move something by thinking about it without the application of physical force - TELEKINESIS
8. a non-human spirit entity which literally means "noisy ghost" but is usually more malicious and destructive than ghosts of dead human beings; traditional activities are thumping and banging, levitating or the moving of objects, stone throwing and starting fires - POLTERGEIST
9. immaterial or ethereal substance associated with spirit manifestations - ECTOPLASM
10. anomaly that appears as a funnel or rope-like image in photographs; these images are sometimes thought to represent ghosts, collections of orbs or gateways which travel to a wormhole in time-space - VORTEX (See our photos for some vortexes [or vortices, if you're that way inclined])
And who wouldn't love one of these kids?
A family had twin boys whose only
resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other
thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the
volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal
optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.
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A Little Something Extra
A site that shows you how to say 'Merry Christmas' in many languages from Afrikaans to Welsh here
And some of the weirder Christmas traditions from around the world
Oxymoron of the week: quiet Christmas
Word of the week: Kris Kringle - corruption of Christkindl, meaning 'Christ Child.' Originally misunderstood by those living near Pennsylvania Germans to mean a bringer of gifts, and is thus now synonymous with Santa Claus.
And here's a Latin phrase I bet you won't hear much over the next few days:
Non mihi, perdo pondus.
[NOHN MEE-hee, PER-doh POHN-doos]
(Not for me, I'm trying to lose weight.)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: http://www.cafepress.com/write101
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2009
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com