About This Time Of Year…

I get antsy.

It’s not the calendar and it’s not the temperature. It’s the approach of an interstate holiday trip. I’m going to Melbourne and Sydney in a few weeks. And the mental engine is starting to rev up.

It is not like a trip to either of those cities is great wampum amongst other people – there are no end of Facebook posts from my 223 contacts that list trips to Europe, North America, or Asia and glory in the tourist sights that will be seen. Melb. and Syd. do not have that bragging pressure.

Yet…they have a real place in my psyche. I am comfortable in each city, having visited them annually for years. I know the shops, galleries, and restaurants. I know the transport system. And yet…I do not know them…there is still adventure enow.

There are always shops that wink out of existence – sadly. And others that appear. I adopt the wise Western Australian practice of never assuming anything I desire in shops will ever be there again – and I make sure that I have enough money saved to swoop while the swooping is good. Oh sure, I make some duff choices, but I also make some brilliant ones.

The same goes for the amusements and the nourishments of the towns. Not every plate is a winner, but there is a memorable event and taste somewhere each day. All you can ask is one per day – and in Syd. and Melb. you can find them.

Parochial? Dull? Staid? Why thank, you, don’t mind if I do. Please let me have a glass of water that is not a swimming pool for guardia and a sandwich that does not wriggle. I have the money to pay for it. And the hotel room? The one with the clean bed and bathroom…? Fine, and I shall be down at the bar in an hour.

The True Christmas Of Spirit

No, it’s not dyslexia kicking in. It’s what I meant to write.

Christmas, we are told, is a season of renewal and promise and rebirth and blessed peace. Sounds good, but the rebirthing you can keep. I’ve seen what the house looked like for the next three years after a regular birth and I don’t really want to see that again. And the smell…

But renewal is fine, as long as you do not ask me to renew marriage vows or coronary arteries again. I’ll stick with the way things are at present. They would both be occasions for a party, but guess who would end up paying for it…

Promises – well we can have them in the pallet-load out of Parliament House. Fresh , new, implausible ones or old, tired, cynical ones. Or an allsorts mixture of the two. They actually keep very well on a shelf.

And blessed peace. Well, I have no grandchildren, so there is not quite the intensity of celebration that others suffer…but I do really appreciate it when the kids go off to the other rellies for family affairs and the wife and I are left to our own, quiet, devices here at home. We do not do much, but we do it in contentment.

Well, if we are to have any of these ingredients they must act upon our spirit. Here’s hoping they will raise it, rather than lower it. So far the several-weeks-before-New Year’s resolution has been adhered to, and in the face of temptation. I am lucky – I am allowed to eat and drink, unlike a friend who has recently been put on a food and drink diet…just before Christmas. All I have to do is be financially responsible.

I’ll be fine as long as the pocket money holds out…Then I will have to go out and pick more pockets.

Have a Merry Christmas anyway, diet, budget, or otherwise.

 

The Day Before The Night Before Christmas

And all through the house – people are scrabbling around for the last of the cello-tape and cheap wrapping paper to try to cover the presents. No-one really wants to have to go out in the 38º heat to the newsagent to get more…particularly because he knows that this is his opportunity to make a killing. Dec 26 sees a crash in the wrapping paper market but Dec 24 is premium time.

The tree has been hung with tinsel with care…no, wait, it hasn’t. That was last year and I think that effort took the wind out of this year’s sails. I, for one, am keeping grinchly quiet about it all to avoid having to dig out all the boxes of decorations. For those who give me the odd looks, I just say that I am seeking the true Christmas spirit, which redoubles the looks.

The Christmas cooking got done last week and also eaten then. We’ll get baked goods from relatives but this year we will go to a hotel for the Christmas lunch. No three weeks of increasingly dry turkey leftovers for us.

We’ve hired a portable spa for a month – we can bob round like apples in it during the worst of the hot weather and then send it way when we’re done. Not my idea, but I can see the logic of it.

The only real shopping will be the last-minute salad bits for later in the week, and the beer. My local shop claims to have hundreds of varieties of craft beer in stock and I feel it my duty to make sure that consumer law is not being flouted. I’ve made a list, but unfortunately after a dozen experiments I go to sleep.

Still, I’m ready for Santa Claus. High or low, I am determined to get him this year.

The Backstabbers Guild Guide To Visiting

Visiting during the holiday period is a tradition with many people. So are torpedo attacks if your family grew up in the Kreigsmarine. What the Guild wants to do is to make sure that if you are going to visit, your victim will go to the bottom in the swiftest manner:

a. Do not call ahead, but make sure that you have as many co-visitors with you as possible. Dress well, and warmly, and carry what look like expensive presents*. It is harder to turn a large group of people away than a small one, as the Germans found out on D-Day.

b. When you gain access to the premises – also known as breaching the walls – be hearty. Be loud. Be exuberant. This is a perfect cloak for someone in the crowd of visitors to rifle through to presents under the tree. A package slitter is a good thing to carry.

c. Make sure that your host is aware that you are thirsty and hungry. And not for just a cup of tea and a biscuit. This is the holidays. Unless they are prepared to put out a complete dinner with turkey, nuts, and crackers, they will appear to be Scrooge. It is a nice touch to carry a small crippled child who can call out ” God bless us one and all ” as you go through the refrigerator and pantry.

d. When it comes time to exchange gifts, have your gift assessor examine the goods closely before you let go of yours. Portable x-ray machines can sort out the difference between socks and Rolex watches.

e. Be ” Genuine “. Nothing beats genuine. Jesse James was one of the most genuine people you could ever meet.

f. Remember that it is the thought that counts, unless you are having the sort of thoughts that Harvey Weinstein used to have. Then only DNA evidence will stand up in court.

g. Be kind to the little children. Be civil to the slightly older ones. By the time they are 14 you can be downright rude. It will fit their frame of mind perfectly.

h. Good visitors curtail their stay before they become a nuisance. Now think – whose column are you reading? Is a Backstabbers Guild Of Australia member going to leave before all the food is gone and the bathroom drains are clogged? Of course not. When you visit  you VISIT…

Some people can stay visited for years.

*  Which you may bear away to your next port of call.

 

 

 

Happy Holidays

I intend to wish people Happy Holidays this year during December…in spite of Facebook memes and pressure posts that insist I must only think of Merry Christmas.

Oh, I intend to have one of those too…a pre-Christmas gathering with relatives and then a catered lunch at a hotel on the actual day. Merry will be practiced, I assure you.

But I also hope to have an equally cheerful Hanukkah and even a midsummers dinner. Here in Australia we do that instead of midwinters. If I were a Buddhist I could have a holiday during the month as well, and if I were a black American or a Hispanic American I would have even more celebrations to cook, decorate, and buy presents for. A veritable month of jollity.

And if I were an atheist I could celebrate the 25th of December as Newtonmas and send cards with ” Reasons Greetings “. I would be careful who I sent them to, however, because I think they would severely affect the people on Facebook who post those scolding memes about the term ” Merry Christmas “.

After all, I would not wish to affect their happy holidays…

The National Day – Part Three – The Plural Of Day Is Not Daze

Okay. Here you go – the calendar of national days for Australia. This schedule contains all the fun, celebration, liquor, politics, and ill-humour that you want or need for national happiness. Anyone who is not happy with it is entitled under the constitution to be sad. The only thing that the Committee asks is that they be sad quietly.

January 1 – Australian National Day. Commemorating the establishment of the 6 colonies as an independent nation free of rule from Westminster.

January 26th – First Fleet Day – celebrating a successful amphibious assault upon Botany Bay.

April 25th – ANZAC Day – celebrating a failed amphibious assault upon Gallipoli.

First Sunday in July – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Day – leading into a themed week called NAIDOC week. Invite the immigrants to the party.

September 1st – National Immigrant Day – Everybody dig out the clothes and food from their various Old Countries and take a day off work. Invite the indigenes to thee party.

November 11th – National Armistice day. When Europe paused for 21 years to reload.

Now you can stack whatever religious feasts and sporting events you like in between the national days and mix and match them to your liking. If you select the right religion, the right community, and the right mate, you can be overfed and queasy for 6 months out of the year. And none of this interferes with tax time, EOFY sales, or the school year.

But it does remove the platform and propaganda that the lobbyists and professors use to keep themselves – like flies –  in the public eye.

 

Cutting A Piece Of Personal Peace

As a kid I never really appreciated peaceful times as much as I might have. I was always looking for something new and exciting and there was nothing as new and exciting as Christmas. Everywhere you turned there was a reminder of the day to come and the sense of anticipation that built up like a head of steam.

This holiday period past has shown me how much I have changed. The hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations this year have been 10 X what they might have been on other occasions and they have been centred on my home…meaning that nothing has been settled and comfortable here for a fortnight.

I frankly missed the sense of relaxation of other years. And it is going to take some degree of work to get it back later in the new year. Funny that – working to be relaxed. But for the person who is anxious or who wishes for order and perfection, it is just that  – a task that you need to undertake on a steady basis. Any event that you are involved in is one that needs preparation – and for some of us we over think and over prepare every time.

I will be making a list for my annual vacation trip and it will be many pages long – things to see, places to visit, items to shop for. I’ve got notebooks full of these lists from previous years and it has been surprising how many items do get ticked off in a week. But in 2018, after this Christmas, I think I am going to make a change.

Oh. I’ll still write the lists, but this time I’ll select one thing only from each category, instead of five. One activity per day, with the rest of the time left for calm and peace. Don’t know exactly where to find it in a holiday city, but I’ll bet there are pockets of it all over the place. Wish me luck.