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Christmas today? Really…are you sure?

It’s now 3.35 in the afternoon and here I sit, the South Easter is howling off the Indian Ocean, the sky blue, temperature hitting the high twenties (centigrade for those of you that still live under imperial rule) and much to my surprise it’s Christmas day!

Hard to imagine a fairer city to be in for Christmas than Cape Town, South Africa!

Somehow this year the festive season snuck up on me and caught me completely unaware.

Admittedly it’s not my favourite time of the year , but I’m usually a bit more present to it’s imminent arrival… if  for no other reason than to sharpen my cynical wit and rehearse my Scroogian disdain.

I spent my day yesterday tending to the odds ‘n’ sods that demanded my attention before attacking the correspondence and well wishing to friends and family (one of the more enjoyable aspects of Christmas).  Convinced that I would have all of Christmas Eve to devote my attention to the task, horror of horrors my flatmate Helder (a wonderful human being and gifted furniture designer; who incidentally is a dead ringer for Elmer Fudd) informs me,  that somehow I’ve misplaced a day and in fact it’s already Christmas Eve,

“No no it’s not” I retort ” it can’t be! Tomorrow is definitely Christmas Eve”

Final score…..Elmer: 1 Daffy: 0

*Sigh* When the day comes that I can finally manage to remove my head from my backside a thunderous “Pop” will be heard around the globe.

And so here we are Christmas 2010 has arrived and depending on which country you live in? It may nearly be gone.

To all of you whom I love dearly to all those wonderful people I have the privilege of counting as friends and to those friends I have yet to meet, wherever you may be.

I hope you have the most wonderful day and a forthcoming year and that the Good Lord Himself, by whatever name you may attribute to him, or by whatever sect, creed or theology you may adhere to; however you may understand (or for that matter, not understand him); The Ancient of Days; The Master of all that there is, will grant you your dearest wishes and fondest aspirations.

To those of you that worry that you may not have enough to eat, may your grocery cupboards be filled and never again empty.

To those who fear they may lose the roof over their heads or have already done so, may you inherit a castle in Spain; or may the bank accidentally wipe out your mortgage account details from their main computer and write off the balance of your debt in compensation for their colossal foul up.

To those who may doubt that their relationships will survive; may you awake with a new perspective and understanding so that you may see your partners with new eyes and fall hopelessly in love all over again.

For those who are concerned that their businesses may founder or that their jobs may be lost, may prosperity visit you daily and bestow upon you the courage, insights and wisdom that will propel your endeavours beyond your wildest dreams.

For those of you that suffer from ill-health or fear the loss of a loved one, may your ailments be over come and if not… that your hearts and minds are filled with a new appreciation of the life that surrounds you and the courage to accept and embrace what lies ahead.

And for those who may not make it through this forthcoming year, may all the saints and angels of heaven be there to welcome you home… surely they’ll take you out for a cup of coffee and a doughnut and answer all those nagging questions you’ve been accumulating for years.

If none of these things should come to pass this year?  Then I wish that your hearts and minds will be filed with the joy and certainty that God will, in his time (with a bit of sweat equity on your part) fill your cup to overflowing, grant all your wishes, lighten your hearts and relieve you of your sorrows and burdens.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Steven.

Oh No! Christmas Again???

I’ve just finished writing an article on how consumers are reacting in the post recessionary recovery phase. Most of it has to do with value, which is a favourite topic of mine. (feel free to pop over to http://www.xrosstheline.wordpress.com if you like, see link in, side bar, blog roll)

Anyway. As one thing leads to another… and I got to thinking about Christmas. All my life I’ve listened to people tell me how they hate Christmas!

Oh. Not the idea behind it. Not the time for families to get together. Not the idea of peace towards all men, nor the time to acknowledge our fellowship and mutual regard. Certainly not, celebrating the birth of a man,  believed by many to be the saviour of mankind.

No, no. I’m talking about “THE CHRISTMAS.” That magical time of year, when we run ourselves close to the brink of bankruptcy to prove how valuable our loved ones really are. Or how well we’re doing?

Could anything be more absurd? Think about it. We’re talking about a festival, one  of the pivotal tenets of which, is the concept of  loving one another. In the meantime we sweat bullets, worrying  that we’ll prove inadequate, our gifts unappreciated,… not big enough, expensive enough, flashy enough. What will the recipient think? What do my gifts say about me? What does their gift say… about me and about them?

What kind of values are we teaching our children? Aren’t  we telling them that they’re not good enough? That a smile on their faces and goodness and love in their hearts is insufficient?  “Nice honey…but not quite good enough.”

How did we ever get into this mess?

About 8 years ago a Friend of mine did some research into Canadian consumers spending on Christmas Eve… the busiest shopping day of the year.

OK. Buckle up and hold on.

Ready?

Canadian consumers spend 17 billion dollars in credit card transactions alone, on Christmas Eve.

Not real dollars…numbers floating out in the dataverse. This is one day, it does not include all the rest of the Christmas spending it does not include the rest of the world.

One nation, one day!

That was 8 years ago. What do you think it is today? What do you think the global spend might be? How big is the number when you add in corporate spending…all the marketing and advertising hype?

Surely if nothing else the recession of the last few years, must have impressed upon us all,  just how desperately some people suffer, how many people live in unrelieved and immeasurable misery and poverty?

Anyone not from this planet could be forgiven for thinking we are all stark, raving mad. Not to mention the manifestation in whose name this celebration takes place.

Do me a favour this Christmas?

No. Do Yourself a favour... this year when you tell each other you will only buy one gift, stick to it.

But take the time over the holiday season to impress in great detail by your words and your deeds how immeasurably important your loved ones are, how wonderfully adequate they are and how they add irreplaceable value to your life and to the world. Take your kids tobogganing or to the beach ( if it’s a hot country). Sit and read them stories of great wonder and joy, play with them, mend your fences. Give your family and friends of yourself from your bountiful heart.

Take the time  to remember the down-trodden, the helpless and the hopeless ones in your community. Lift them up. Just for one day. Oh, and take the kids with you…they need to learn how important it is.

Wherever you live, whatever deity you may believe in, whatever religion or philosophy you may subscribe to… Christmas Day is a great day to reflect and give thanks for how truly wonderful it is, that we’re all here together.

Sounds like a load of jibarish to me!

Oh, Do me a favour will you? Push some of those buttons below.

Well done.

Cheers Steven.

Image credits: http://www.allthingschristmas.com/gifts.php

Seven to Fifty-Seven and back… in a heartbeat!

It’s a warm Saturday morning in the summer of ’59. I’m seven… When you’re seven life is spectacular, large and grand. The world is magic…literally. Miracles erupt spontaneously on all sides…life is huge with possibility.

Saturday mornings was when my father dispensed our weekly pocket money…10 cents was the sum of my wealth, a smidgen in today’s terms, but back then!… whooah it was a handsome amount that I held clutched in my fist, as I walked up the road to Jack’s Confectioners on Main.  Along the way, my mind occupied itself by working out the complicated economics required to properly satisfy a sweet tooth.

Poorly lit, stuffy and in need of a good makeover, Jack’s was the local “if-you-can-find-it-we-got-it” corner store. Jack himself ,overweight  and unkempt…usually sat perched on a stool behind the counter, keeping a sharp look out for kids with sticky fingers and generally scaring the piss out of anyone under the age of 10.

None the less his shop had two features that overrode Jacks best attempts at intimidation, both were objects of my endless desire; the best ice cream in the world and the best assortment of penny candy I’d ever seen.

I arrived in the shop not having quite made up my mind, which combination of delights might best suit my taste. Should I splurge on a double scooper of Butterscotch Ripple for seven cents? (spending the balance on assorted penny candy) I wondered… or…. should I blow the whole dime on liquorice cigars, jawbreakers , wax lips, carmels and jujubes? A tough call for a kid with a dime.  As I wrestled with the big decision of the morning, a thought suddenly popped into my head “Steven, imagine if you had 10 dollars to spend?”  The concept was mind-boggling…10 bucks worth of penny candy? I’d be rich!…I thought about it for days

Fast forward 15 years;

I’m 22, my new Pontiac is sitting parked at the curb, my girlfriend Ev is sitting on the passenger side waiting. We’ve just arrived from out-of-town for a visit and going past Jack’s I’d pulled in to buy a pack of smokes. As I wait for my change, I look down at the penny candy display case and that Saturday morning flashes back clear as day. I smile. I remember wishing I had 10 dollars…at that moment I did, more than 10 actually…but I had lost my desire to spend it on penny candy. As I exited the store it came to me that my dreams had moved on and so had I.

I had new dreams.

I still do. I still get that aha moment when my boggled mind thinks “imagine If….?

When you’re fifty-seven life is spectacular, large and grand. The world is magic…literally. Miracles erupt spontaneously on all sides…life is huge with possibility.

Oh Yeah! I went with the double scooper of Butterscotch Ripple and the rest on liquorice cigars.

Sounds like a load of jibarish to me!

Cheers Steven

Image Credits:  http://inventors.about.com/od/foodrelatedinventions/ss/ice_cream_3.htm

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