23 February 2009


Christmas without an argument!

Yes, I thought that would get your attention!

As the temporary owner of a half dozen of the word's noisier and rambunctious children (or so it seems to my eardrums anyway), the achievement of a Christmas day without an argument is monumental. And now I suppose you want to know how I achieved it?

The day started normally with the youngsters arising at about 6:30am, and heading off to the present pile (under the pathetic plastic thing that passes for a tree!). The presents were all catalogued, shaken, smelled and guessed well before anyone else showed up.

The mid-morning flurry of preparation for going to Christmas Day service was undertaken with good nature and a resignation that today and Easter Sunday are days when there is really no excuse for not going - especially in this household! So we all tramped off to watch mother blow (across?) the flute and father advance the electronic slides during carols and sermon.

So we returned home for lunch, which of course had to be spread ... but then no-one who is hungry is going to complain about putting the food out and getting it ready. And then a minor hiccup while we waited for our invited guest to arrive, before finally sitting to eat.

Conversations degenerated into the normal rough and tumble of a meal with 8 people around the table, 7 of whom have a whole life time of experience together. Dinner over, and now .... SCUM!

This is the secret weapon! As soon as the dishes are cleared, out came 3 packs of cards and we started to play SCUM! The most important part of this game is that the last one out gets ragged by the others, and so long as its not the same person, the psychological distress levels are held in check. And as the youngest are getting better through practice its usually the eldest who play irregularly who suffer. Fortunately, the guest had never played so she was easy pickings!!

Sorry ... what's SCUM? Its a card game where one gets rid of cards by throwing out multiples in numerical order, with the aim being to have no cards left. First finished is "El Presidente", although others call him "emporer". I suppose it depends on your Republican aspirations! Next out, "Vice Presidente". Second last out "Vice Scum" and last out "SCUM". I say this in capitals advisedly because it is not a pleasant position and all other players are keen to see that you know this.

But it is fun and my lot can ... and did! ... play for hours. Until early evening. So that's the trick - SCUM!

The True Meaning of Christmas?

What did you do at Christmas?

What a terrible time of the year! Well, that's what I find anyway. Christmas seems to bring out some rather unfortunate trends in the populace.

Firstly its the 'OVER' season. Over-eat, over-spend, over-drink, over-theorize, "I'm over it"! Now I guess that you can all understand the first three, but what is that next one all about? My sister and I have this ongoing Christmas joke that starts with one of us saying "So that's TTMOC!", like we are surprised and enlightened.

Not familiar with TTMOC? Oh. "The True Meaning Of Christmas". Yes, the theories on what constitutes the true meaning abound. And if you came to the conclusion that it is actually Santamas or Clausmas, we you could be forgiven!

I should introduce here my story about my muslim (to keep things even, I'll use small letters for all references from here on) acquaintance from university when I was doing my medical degree. He is now a well-known medical and literary figure but I will nevertheless refrain from name dropping! It was coming up to christmas and he was talking about celebrating christmas. This puzzled me because while I would not call myself an expert on the muslim faith, I had the small suspicion that muslims do not celebrate christmas, mainly because there is a disagreement over the status of Jesus (sorry proper name!) and therefore it remains a christian festival. And as a reasonable premise one can say that muslims don't celebrate christian festivals, and christians don't celebrate muslim festivals.

Anyway, I remarked, "I am curious as the reasons why a muslim would celebrate christmas". He answered "Oh, I think it is a wonderful economic feast!" A few TV clips on christmas in China seems to support this, as does more than AUD$14 billion spending at DJ's. I'll bet you've never heard that one put forward for the true meaning of christmas! But there in lies the dilemma. Is this "meaning of christmas" anything to anybody?

Historically it is a christian festival, and those who are of that practice, are quick to state that the birth of a certain first-born about 2000 years ago is the reason for the celebration because of the later significance of the individual. Unfortunately I don't recall that any of his contributions were economic or really family-oriented in that get-together-once-a-year-and-have-a-bloody-good-argument-and-spend-more-than-we-can-afford-on-presents way.

Now I do think that family get-togethers are good, but what ties them to Christmas? Just the holidays perhaps, certainly not the christianity any more. What would happen to christmas if we moved the family holiday period to start with the New Year, and let workers have 2 religious holidays per year to match their faith?

Perhaps we could then see the true meaning of christmas?