Christmas at the Café

It seems that so much of Christmas is no more than rampant consumerism, where this year’s gifts are expected to be bigger and better (and more expensive) than last year’s, and the year before that, and yet the year before that.

It wasn’t always so, but even for the not religious that Christmas meant a time for reflection, a time where peace and goodwill should take precedence over all else.

Christmas has also been a thing of myths and legends. For those in northern climes, the home of the ancestors of many of us who now live in Australia, Christmas brought long cold nights, of using the last of the stored and preserved foods. But with every season of cold and darkness comes opportunities, the opportunity to light a pipe and for story telling.

Here is a short description, it’s a Nordic tale which I have taken from memory, it is of the Snow Queen’s Palace.

Illustration by Edmund Dulac

The walls of the palace were of driven snow, and the windows and doors made of cutting, biting winds. This was a palace of a hundred halls, the largest was lighted by Aurora Borealis which shone with precision, but all of the halls were empty and icy cold; but how resplendent. But happiness never reigned there, but cold, and empty were the halls of the Snow Queen.

In the middle of the empty, endless hall of snow, was a frozen lake; it was cracked in a thousand pieces. It was an ice-puzzle for the understanding – when one looked at it, the figures were extraordinarily beautiful, and of the utmost importance. Two words formed within the pattern, one was legend the other eternity.

To kiss the Snow Queen was to turn one to ice, like the splinters of a looking-glass penetrating the heart and to become a part of the palace, nothing more than cold, empty splendor.

But as all good legends end so this one ends, the warm tear of the hero’s beloved falls into his eye to melt the frozen shard in his heart.

Each and every Christmas my mother (bless her heart, mum turns 89 in a couple of months) would take me to either a pantomime or to the ballet. I was born when my parents were somewhat older and had given up having a child, so although I wouldn’t say that I was ever spoilt I will admit that Christmas was a time for special treats such as going to the ballet. Here is the music from one of my favorites.

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.: Bob Hope

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.: Dr. Seuss

159 comments on “Christmas at the Café

  1. Nice post Min. Regardless of religious overtones, in our society this time of the year seems to be the period where the majority of people think of their families, friends and generally how they treat their fellow wo/man. Hopefully in a lot of small ways the Christmas period makes the world a better place to be.

  2. 2353, thank you. I suspect that it’s a bit early for this topic, but Migs asked me to put it up as he was too busy at the club raffle 🙂

  3. Min
    I was not brought up with ballet, however my daughter when she was at Uni in Sydney took full advantage of student deals and loved it.
    After her studies,. while she was working as an orthopaedic nurse, decided to treat me and a friend to a night of ballet. Great seats we thought 2 rows from the front. Unfortunately noooooo!! She and the friend both nurses heard every crack and grind of bones (definitely too much knowledge) but worse still was the pong of BO from the dancers and their “antique” costumes.

    We did have a good laugh,on the way home.

  4. The whole thing about Xmas leaves me often perplexed. I hate the whole consumerism thing, it has become an American tradition but instead of Halloween witches we have Santa with cute dolly girls in mini skirts handing out lollies to passers by.

    But on the other hand some the best thoughts, the inspirational stuff from Charles Dickens to the Grinch would never have happened if it wasn’t for this festive season thingy.

  5. Thank you Pip. I must admit to being completely sick of the X day before it even arrives…it starts with tinsel in the shops in October and refuses to leave us until Easter. Once upon a time the marts had the good graces to remove their X day things before popping up the fluffy chickens and Easter eggs. Not any more, they now reside side my side.

    The theme of my topic in part included the story of the Snow Queen, this was later translated into a fairy tail by Hans Christian Andersen.

    Now when I think of Hans, I also think of Danny Kaye..gay bloke, one didn’t come out in those days. Danny Kaye did some very very quirky stuff..but here is a straight one that I enjoy. My late dad was a mad, crazy jazz fan..

  6. I can’t say that Christmas is a time of the year that I get excited about either, apart from the break, of course.

    It’s meant to be a time for family. Well that rules me out. I have two sons somewhere in Adelaide, but cruelly, we have no contact.

    I have step children here and in Adelaide but our care factor for each other is zero. When we do share Christmas (which I do reluctantly) I’m generally repulsed with the way their kids are spoilt. OK, Christmas is for them, but how much money can you spend on kids? My step children take it to new heights. I see it as a complete waste.

  7. but how much money can you spend on kids?

    I could show you the receipts, but you wouldn’t believe them 😦

    Toys are cheap (comparatively)

    But friggin’ video games!!! 😡

  8. Ahh Min, Louis Armstrong, what legend.

    And I can’t hear this without thinking of the movie I first heard it. They were made for each other I reckon

  9. Min,
    I love that pic, probably because my gravatar resembles an Edmund Dulac illustration. I haven’t researched it, but it seems to be the same style from around the first decade of the 20th Century.

  10. Everyone is going to hate me for this one, but this one always reminds me of Christmas. This one is for the Beech Forest crew…for everyone else, ear plugs are recommended.

  11. But are they Greek? κλείστε τα βιβλία των παιδιών σας This in my very Australian accent is kaliste ta biblia sas pedwa.

  12. Some public service humour.
    All employees planning to dash through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, going over the fields and laughing all the way are advised that a Risk Assessment will be required addressing the safety of an open sleigh for members of the public. This assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly where there are multiple passengers. Please note that permission must also be obtained in writing from landowners before their fields may be entered. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

    Benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available for collection by any shepherds planning or required to watch their flocks at night. While provision has also been made for remote monitoring of flocks by CCTV cameras from a centrally heated shepherd observation hut, all users of this facility are reminded that an emergency response plan must be submitted to account for known risks to the flocks. The angel of the Lord is additionally reminded that, prior to shining his/her glory all around, s/he must confirm that all shepherds are wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to account for the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory.

    Following last year’s well-publicised case, everyone is advised that Equal Opportunities legislation prohibits any comment with regard to the redness of any part of Mr R Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from reindeer games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.

    While it is acknowledged that gift bearing is a common practice in various parts of the world, particularly the Orient, everyone is reminded that the bearing of gifts is subject to Hospitality Guidelines and all gifts must be registered. This applies regardless of the individual, even royal personages. It is particularly noted that direct gifts of currency or gold are specifically precluded, while caution is advised regarding other common gifts such as aromatic resins that may evoke allergic reactions.

    Finally, in the recent instance of the infant found tucked up in a manger without any crib for a bed, the welfare authorities have been advised and will be arriving shortly.

  13. Interesting article from Ross Gittins…as Gittins states, it turns out that Santa was right..

    Studies of people’s brains using magnetic resonance imaging showed that when people chose to give money to a local food bank this caused activity in the part of their brain typically associated with receiving rewards.

    Why should this be? Because humans are the most social animal on the planet, the quality of our social relationships is a strong determinant of our happiness. So almost anything we do to improve our connections with others tends to improve our happiness as well.

    Particularly at this time of year, retailers try to entice us with offers to ”buy now, pay later”. I don’t doubt this helps increase sales, but it’s pretty much the opposite of how you gain greater satisfaction.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/for-its-in-giving-that-you-receive-happiness-20111220-1p3s9.html#ixzz1h7PdSTG9

  14. Because humans are the most social animal on the planet

    Did he run that test through Sydney I wonder?? 😯

    Actually, for all the bagging that Sydney gets around here, my experience there has been completely at odds. I found the people, while always appearing frantically busy, quite helpful, approachable and friendly. But then, I didn’t have to drive in the traffic there, which, compared with Adelaide, looks nightmarish.

  15. I have never bothered with xmas cards, but then, I’m pretty lazy.

    Speaking of which, just in case I don’t manage to get back on here, Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you all have a fantastic time, whether you get into the spirit or not.

    Thanks for the great year you all have helped me have.

  16. Thank you Tom, and Merry Christmas to you as well. Here’s one for you..make the most of it, probably the first and last time I’ll play Iron Maiden. 😉

  17. Merry Christmas to you too, Tom R. May 2012 be good to you as well.

    It’s been a pleasure having you at the Cafe and I look forward to seeing you here again next year.

    Your posts are very witty, I might add, and you have a special talent in the way you engage with the trolls. You make them look stoopid. I love it.

  18. Meanwhile, all my Christmases have come at once. A 1st Choice Liquer has opened up the road and upon my first visit I discover to my joy that they sell Wynns 2008 Conawarra Cab Sav for $27 a bottle. Beats the $40 Woolies sell it for.

    My choice of wine over Xmas has now been decided.

    But why wait a couple of days to start celebrating the end of the working year? I can feel the bottle of Jim Beam in the cupboard urging me forward.

    As others would say: “Clink”.

  19. I sang that at a Karaoke some years ago, Min. I was as pissed as ten men. Somebody kept laughing at me so I decided to sing another song. I’ll look for it on YouTube (the song, that is, not me singing it).

  20. I think I might move to Bathurst. I hear it’s getting colder down there by the year.

    Tell me, do watermelons grow in a cool climate?

  21. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

    Merry Christmas everyone 🙂

  22. Migs, How did you manage to find that video of
    the Knickerbockers? Haven’t heard that song since….At the time I recall they were compared to the Beatles in style….no.

    A merry christmas to yourself and Min and all at the caf.

    Have to go to a thingy thing otherwise I would shove in a couple of my favourites.

    Cheers

  23. Merry Christmas Rabbit, a thingy thing?

    Would that be the assemby of a flat pack thingy?
    or, glazing the ham?
    or, finishing the paving before the guests arrive?
    or, mowing the lawn before dark?
    or mending the lawn mower??

  24. Merry Xmas to you and yours too, rabbit. It’s always nice to see you here and we look forward to your company again in 2012.

    I also used to think the Knickerbockers sounded like the Beatles and I actually used to think it was the Beatles who sang that song. That along with Friday on my Mind, which was of course the Easybeats.

  25. Now why, when you say you have to go to a thingy thing ervyroene shinks taht yuopr goanna get piheshed.Geeeesh!!

  26. An iconic song, TB. Merry Christmas to you and yours too.

    Bob, I have a nice Coonawarra red to enjoy tomorrow. If I spread it out over the afternoon, while nibbling, I shouldn’t get too pissed.

    Maybe I should take along some Jim Beam as well. Why should I be the only sober person there?

  27. I would agree with you there Migs. It’s far more complex song, you can see the Beatles develop from a pub band to experimentation with tempo, and the far greater complexity of their lyrics.

  28. I’m wondering what to leave out for Santa tonight. Maybe a few Tim Tams and a hip flask of brandy.

    My mother always used to leave out a bottle of beer. By some miracle of God it was always empty in the morning.

  29. Milk for Santa – can’t have him drink-driving 😉

    D’ya think that policy may have something to do with my missing bicycle? 😆

  30. This is a serious one 😉

    Serious drink drive warning – timely pre- Christmas!

    I would like to share an experience with you all, about drinking and driving.

    As you well know, some of us have been known to have had brushes with the authorities on our way home from the odd social session over the years.

    A couple of nights ago, I was out for drinks with some friends in George Street and had a few too many beers. Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I’ve never done before …. I took a bus home. Sure enough I passed a police roadblock but as it was a bus they waved it past.

    I arrived home safely without incident, which was a real surprise, as I have never driven a bus before and am not sure where I got it from!

  31. Hugs? Well technically, you need to wait another ½ hour for our SA friends, 1 hour for those from the best state, and 3 hours for Patrica and Co 😉

  32. I always was a bit slow, Bacchus.

    But since I really want do to go to bed now, I’ll speed things up here!

    Happy Christmas, everyone!

  33. Migs, whoops…I didn’t see that one. I hope that I didn’t lock anyone in the cellar last night.

    It’s now a very Merry Christmas for one and all.

  34. I really wish god, if it exists, would send down a lightening bolt and fry Archbishop Pell, making him look a cartoon character struck by lightening, charred hair standing on end, blackened face and smoking clothes.

    His Xmas message was a jumbled mess of mostly incoherent and disjointed ramblings, but littered throughout were indirect references to climate change being natural. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TjCePn1K0I

    From Roman warming, to natural rains after drought and current mild climatic conditions, instead of his being a message of peace and not taking things for granted, his was a message of snide and petty side remarks against climate science and scientists, along with those who are proponents of the current climate change theory. This wasn’t a message of peace and tolerance but one of condemnation and divisiveness.

    All delivered with a smug look on his face as if he’s thinking how clever he is in delivering this underhanded rebuke to climate change dressed up as a Xmas message.

    Far from being the staunch Christian he professes to be, like Abbott, Pell constantly demonstrates he couldn’t be further from Christian morals of honesty and goodwill.

  35. Mobius, Pell isn’t a Christian he’s a religious fanatic. And like most religous fanatics cannot comprehend that the god as he perceives him/her isn’t a mirror of his own opinions.

  36. Min, I do not believe it has much to do with religion. The man is just arrogant and full of himself,

    Pride being one of his biggest sins.

    He has chosen a loser in Abbott.

  37. It’s improper that a senior member of the church use Christmas Day as a vehicle to push what is without doubt a political agenda. Was the speech run past Abbott first?

  38. Thanks to Cu, Min and Bacchus, you’ve reminded me to update this. I wouldn’t have bothered with Pell’s address if you hadn’t nudged me!

    Oh Yea of Little Faith!

    Tony and the Cardinal are right!
    Science and historical research
    Will not convince them, despite
    The climate data you all cite!
    From studies of the ancient church,
    Reading holy scriptures
    In writings and in pictures
    They’ve seen those images of Roman times.
    Invaders of the holy lands,
    Travelling from different climes,
    Shod in sandals, in short skirts,
    Helmeted and holding shields,
    Swords in bare brown arms and hands,
    They had no need of shirts.
    That’s the truth their history yields.
    All that heat and dust and blood;
    Mothers clinging to their babies,
    Their screams and so much killing,
    The dirt and gore all churned to mud.
    Yes, terrible, but somehow thrilling.

    Of course it was as hot as Hades!

  39. Even stranger than his subtle indirect digs at climate science throughout his jumbled Christmas message was Pell’s out of the blue statement of mankind being home alone on a tiny planet in a universe with billions of constellations.

    (YouTube 1:33)

    Forgetting the obvious astronomical error in his statement, how does he know that mankind is the only existence in the universe?

    It’s what he wants to believe because if there is other intelligent life in the universe, and it doesn’t have faith in the same Christian God as he believes in, then it makes a myth out of the entire Christian religion, and that of all religions whose gods are not universal but who claim their god is universal.

  40. Mobius, you see it’s like this..Jesus was human and as a consequence there can be no other intelligent life forms. Mind you, Jesus could easily have been an alien given his ability to walk on water, turn water into wine, raise the dead etc.

  41. Möbius Ecko, I owe you an apology! I was aware that it was you who sent me off to listen to Cardinal Pell and I planned to reply. But I got side tracked finding out how to do an ö (umlaut) for your name, settled in to re-write my pome and forgot all about you when I wrote my comment.

    Really, it’s the only thing about growing old that worries me – memory. Plays tricks with you all the time!

    Still, here I am a few hours later, see your name and remember it all, even the umlaut!

    By the way, judging from that address he gave I’d say that Cardinal Pell isn’t far from senility. You’re right it was a very jumbled message. He’s only just seventy too! Or was he always that dumb?

  42. It’s odd then, that only two years ago the Vatican announced they believe in UFOs, thus implying that life exists elsewhere in the universe.

    Unfortunately, they maintain that God created this life.

    There are many castles in the kingdom of Heaven, apparently.

  43. I’m enjoying this part of the day on my own here with the two dogs. I had my usual first thing in the morning coffee and opening of presents with the grand kids next door. Though guess what? My oldest grandson, fourteen now, got a beautiful shaving mug and kit from his dad! It’s only yesterday he was bathing him in his blue plastic baby bath – still in use in the laundry!

    And only yesterday I was teaching his Dad French verbs which he wasn’t one bit interested in! He’d opted for French assuming my lovely daughter, braces notwithstanding, would be taking it too. He was wrong! The things we do for love! She spent at least the next ten years running away from him. Great to see them today, very much in love and very proud of their beautiful boys. As am I.

    Everyone is out on ‘the other side’ for lunch. I was invited too, but our little dogs were specifically excluded, so I was glad to plead old age and tiredness, and stay here with them. Imagine! Leaving two little dogs on their own on Christmas Day!. And they would have been really on their own. Tacker, the oldest, my dog, was not pleased when my grandsons because they loved him so much, wanted a pup of their own last Christmas. Little Mozart is a lively little King Charles Cavalier/Xitsu and lots of fun, but not the beloved of disdainful Tacker. They’re fine with a human around but never left alone together.

    Now I’m doing last minute preps for supper ‘on this side!’ and then I think I’ll have a little snooze. It’s lovely knowing you’re out there!

  44. Patricia, I was thinking of you today. I saw a pic that you might enjoy. As it comes from FB I can’t link it into comments and so I’ll email you and Migs a copy. It’s quite clever.

  45. MIn, 11.47pm 24/12, roflmao.

    After a hectic week or so staying up till stupid o’clock cooking baked goods for presents, I’ve at last returned from Planet Xmas Idiocy and can resume normal transmission, full of Christmas ham and trifle-the pav will have to wait until tomorrow.

    Interestingly, my kids have all retired for a big fat Nanna nap, but I’m still awake and starting to feel like a spot of fried rice. And just maybe I’ll cook the garlic prawns that everyone missed out on because they scoffed too many oysters-or not. Toasted sangers will be the order of the day, methinks. and an early night.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful day and will greet tomorrow sans hangover.

  46. The funny thing is that Vatican scientist after much research also believe that climate change is man made.

  47. It’s just a trivial thing but one thing that I dislike about christianity is people who shout This Person Loves Jesus.

    I personally have never met the fella, believe he was a prophet of Mohammed anyway the Muslims took a bit of a liking to him. Messages were pretty good mostly such as against graft and corruption in the ruling classes, everybody equal. Fairly forward thinking stuff for those days, based on the democratic ideals of the Empires. But love the fella? Sorry never met him.

  48. Agreed, Antony G, organised religion like all man made things has some of the worst aspects of human nature.

    But it has some good things too and I certainly enjoy a local church community here who have made a lovely garden together which they are willing to share with all and sundry. They keep it going with voluntary rosters of hand waterers who Tacker and I chat to in the mornings or evenings as we pass.

    I’ve found out a few things the church body does with hospitality for incoming migrants and refugees as well as helping out with famine relief in East Africa. I am happy to donate directly to on the ground projects like that after meeting people who’ve actually visited and worked in the camps. I don’t doubt their sincerity or the usefulness of the work they do. It doesn’t make me any more of a believer, but it softens my once broad sweeping condemnation of religion.

  49. My goodness, what a terrible day!

    I’ve spent two and a half hours driving through the worst storm imaginable. I almost joined one of the many cars who skidded off the Hume Highway. Hooning is not advisable in such weather.

    Dozens of cars pulled off to the side of the road, which was a wise move, as visibility was at times zero. Those cars without their lights on we’re a real hazard. I cursed them under my breath until I realized I was one of them. Once my lights were turned on, I had good reason to curse them even more.

  50. Migs, I’m certain that you cursed them more than under your breath.

    As an aside, a recent Poll indicates that 85% of men don’t know which color jocks they are wearing but 85% of women do know.

    Now this is an interesting poll because I’m not certain whether it means that 85% of women know which color jocks their men are wearing, or if it means that 85% of women know the color of their own undies.

    Plus there are no demographics. 😀

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