"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Santa's On His Way

The sky is blue. Not a cloud in sight. Snow is on the ground and some branches of the maple are outlined in white. It's cold enough to stay that way.

A woodpecker is pecking furiously and pieces of bark are flying in every direction. A hawk just flew over, his great feathery wings like blankets, flapping leisurely.

Great-grandchildren, Cheyenne and Abigail were here overnight on Wednesday for a children's Christmas party in Toronto on Thursday where they saw Santa for the first time this year.

They are the ages of my sister and myself, the last time we knew Christmas as children.

Santa was not seen around then.We just knew of him. Nobody really expected to see him. Contact was made by throwing scraps of paper with wishes scribbled laboriously in pencil, up the chimney.

The up draught from the fire carried them where they needed to go. 

We  hung stockings except they were knee highs. Nothing fancy. We never had more than one pair. We would literally take off our socks and hang one.

It wasn't from the mantle. They hung  on a cord stretched across the smoke board, a contraption that slid up and down to keep the smoke out of the room if the wind was gale force which wasn't uncommon

We lived close to the sea.

That last Christmas  stocking  probably had the same gifts as previous. An orange and  an apple or a pomegranate. Treats only enjoyed at Christmas. A small white sparkly sugar pig  with  a pink nose.pink eyes and half an inch of pink cotton for a tail. Five candy cigarettes in a paper package like real Woodbines and a small  truck filled with chocolate and covered with cellophane paper. It crackled when I ran my hands down the stocking  to try to guess what was in there.

A doll  stuck  half in and half out of the stocking.  She likely came from Woolworth's. Probably cost sixpence. Nothing cost more than sixpence from Woolworth's. Except shoes. They cost sixpence each.

Her body must have been paper mash. When she was only a couple of weeks old ,I washed her clothes. Couldn't wait for them to dry. Put them back on wet  Her body collapsed.

Christmas wasn't a holiday in Scotland.  Stores opened. We had no special meals.New Year's Eve was the  Scottish celebration. Probably pagan.New Year's Day was quiet as the grave. Children were sent to the movies.

We never saw Santa.

One time he was supposed to come to our school. We had a Christmas tree in the gym. It cost  a penny to go to the gym and see Santa. He didn't  show up. Which was just as well because I didn't have  the necessary penny so I didn't get to go to the gym.

Christmas  carols were sung in church and school. There was no radio. Electricity didn't exist in our neighbourhood. A man rode around on his bicycle  to light  gas street lamps. Without getting off the bicycle, he rested one foot on the sidewalk and did everything he needed to do with a long pole.

So  Christmas carols were not heard often enough  to be tiresome.Cards were not exchanged.Everyone we knew lived close by.

Santa didn't show up  every day of the week in every venue imaginable. He was truly  mythical.

The Nativity scene  in  its humble surroundings was  in our church. It was truly mystical.

People keep reminding me of how things have changed. As if those of us who lived through  change need to be reminded by those who  have not

But you know,  having  known another time  in another age and place, I don't see modern excess,  the endless quest  for the perfect  gift or gifts, Santa on every corner,  endless efforts to write another  top of the chart Christmas song or play for the umpteenth  time,  the same nauseatingly sentimental movie, as  change for the better.

So...what I wish for you my friends is a Christmas day of peace and quietude with people you love and time to contemplate the blessings you enjoy and share. If you are lucky enough to have small children in your life,try to catch a little of the sparkle from their starry-eyed innocence.


Anonymous said...

And the same to you, dearest Evelyn.

Many thanks for some of your childhood.

One who Knows said...

You truly are a treasure to this town and its people Evelyn , Best wishes to you and your family for another Merry Chistmas and happy 2012,

Grace Marsh said...

Merry Christmas to you Evelyn, and all those you hold dear as well.


Anonymous said...

Evelyn, it is late and I am probably going to be so sorry in the morning but a very merry Christmas to you and all yours. And an enormous thank-you for the ongoing entertainment and education. Sleep well. S.

Bill Hogg said...

Ev, thanks for your beautiful post. It was a gift in itself.

Best to you and your family for the holidays and a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

David Heard said...

You inspire me...enough said,except Merry Christmas.