Tag Archives: christmas

2313. Christmas Eve

Danielle lived in a block of apartments on her own. There were about forty apartments all together. It was Christmas Eve and Danielle had planned to catch a plane and fly to her parent’s home for Christmas. Bad weather cancelled all flights.

She was wondering what to do and thought she had better get to the supermarket to buy something to celebrate with – a bottle of wine and a few slices of something nice. She had just set out in the corridor when she bumped into Bernard.

“I thought you were going home for Christmas,” he said.

“Flight cancelled.”

“Same here,” said Bernard. “Look, why don’t we share the Christmas meal? In fact, why don’t we leave a note at every apartment door saying if you’re alone this Christmas bring you food to my apartment and we’ll all celebrate together.”

It was an excellent idea. Danielle printed off a pile of invitations and she and Bernard went around the apartment building. They planned what to do if a number turned up on Christmas day. So far they have had a response from eleven people. If it’s anymore they’ll be spilling the party out into the corridor.

2312. Children’s parcels

There were only a few days left until Christmas and the toys Natalie had ordered online still hadn’t arrived. She had ordered them for her two boys back in September. This called for emergency thinking.

Horace, her husband, was dispatched to the store to buy tools and timber, nails and paint, and other handy things. Natalie downloaded simple carpentry plans for how to make toys that work. They wrapped things in separate parcels to make lots of presents.

Horace cleared some space in his Man Cave and put the boys’ names on it. All was ready for Christmas Day.

The pre-ordered parcels arrived! But the parents were excited about the handyman things. They thought they’d keep the pre-ordered gifts for the boys’ birthdays.

2311. My secret admirer

It’s amazing. Every Thursday around three o’clock flowers are delivered to my house. Today is Friday, and yesterday the florist delivered a gorgeous bunch of red carnations. They were bright, bright red. I don’t know much about the meaning of flowers but secretly I was hoping that red carnations might stand for love.

It is so exciting to think that I have a secret admirer; in fact, more than that; someone who is infatuated by me. It could well be that. This business of flowers being delivered around three every Thursday has been going on for several months. It would cost a pretty penny.

I’ve wracked my brain as to the identity of this secret admirer. I even put a search online for “the meaning of flowers” as perhaps there is a clue in the variety of flowers that arrive. But most weeks I don’t even know the names of the flowers that are delivered. I know carnations and roses but that’s about itl. I can’t even spell some of the flower names you hear.

I was thrilled yesterday when the bunch of red carnations was delivered. I’ve never had red carnations before so I’m thinking that my secret lover might be getting more serious.

Excuse me. I’ve got to dash. Today is Friday – as I said. The florist is not open on weekends. I have to order next week’s flowers before the florist shuts. Perhaps next week I’ll get sunflowers! They are such a happy flower, and I don’t much like spending Christmas alone.

2300. Pantomime Season

As has become the norm on this blog, a round number (in this case Story 2300) calls not for a story as such but a conversation about something taken from real life.

Since we are nearing the feast of Christmas I thought I’d tell what I used to do once upon a time when I had a bit more energy than I have today.

The last ten years or so of my teaching were at a mixed sexes high school. The thirty or so years teaching before that were in all boys’ high schools. I think New Zealand has a higher percentage of single sex schools than some other parts of the globe. The New Zealand School year goes from early February until early December. The Summer Break is December-January. It follows then that Christmas and New Year fall in the longest school break.

It used to be that secondary schools finished a week or so earlier than the primary schools. Every year I would write a Christmas Pantomime about an hour long. I would then ask for volunteers from the students and between 12 and 20 would be about the right number. We had wonderful painted sets (we used most of the same every year!) and the students had only a few days to learn the script and rehearse the pantomime.

In the meantime I had written to every primary school in the Province and given times of performances. It would be 50 cents entry per child – and “You know the ones who can’t afford it so just let them in!” There would be three performances per day – one at 10 am, one at midday, and one at 2 pm. They would have to book by phone. On top of that, they were welcome to use the expansive school grounds for picnics or sports or whatever.

Whole schools would come, often paid for by a school’s Board of Governors as “an end of year treat”. The auditorium held around 700 and it was full for each of the 15 performances.

Local businesses donated prizes for a colouring-in event which had the theme of the pantomime that year.

Buses would arrive in droves. For the week there were kids all over the place! And they were allowed to make as much noise during a performance as they wished – shouting at the Dame, and calling out at the Wicked Witch, and applauding the Prince and Princess. Each performance was always a great success.

We did this for ten years. Secondary School education lasted 5 years; that meant that an actor at the end of his time at school had done 75 pantomime performances. They were masters at controlling a crowd! Throughout the school year, for theatre performances, it was a breeze. They already had a huge experience. That is why, I think, that at inter-secondary school Drama Festivals our performances always stood out, and we were even selected to represent New Zealand at International Festivals.

The waiting list to come to that school was enormous – almost every primary school boy in the Province wanted to come to the secondary school that did the pantomimes!

Oh! And I forgot the most important thing. At the end of the week the student actors would divide the spoils. It was always a healthy sum. It was after all their “holiday job”.

Unfortunately I have only one photo of the ten years! It is the Big Bad Wolf in the pantomime called “The Horse’s Wedding”.

2285. The crooked Christmas tree

Nothing riled Nora more than Jonathan putting up the artificial Christmas tree crooked. Year after year it would be crooked; just on a slight angle; not much mind you, but just enough for Nora to notice it every time she passed. The tree would go up on Thanksgiving.

The glittering baubles hung on a small but observable angle. Each year Nora would wait for Jonathan to leave the house and no sooner had he gone than she would crawl underneath the tree with a small plastic clothes peg and poke it in the Christmas tree stand against the trunk to make the tree perfectly upright.

Then when she went out herself she would return only to find the peg had gone. It had been taken out and the tree was once again on the tiniest angle. Nora knew exactly what she would get Jonathan for Christmas; something he seemed to want so much: some clothes pegs from the dollar shop.

This ritual had gone on for years. In fact, it had become a Thanksgiving Day tradition. I forgot to mention that Nora and Jonathan were next door neighbours – I suppose you thought they were wife and husband. They had been neighbours for over forty years, and both widowed for about ten. Thanksgiving was a time for them to help each other put up the Christmas decorations. Then as the evening approached – they always observed the day in the evening – their respective families would arrive in each household for the celebration.

This year however it was going to be different. Both families were meeting at Nora’s house to celebrate an accepted marriage proposal.

Happy Thanksgiving to my USA readers and their families – and anyone else who happens to be thankful!

2209. The stolen goose

(Day 2 of a week of retelling traditional folktales.)

The vicar was furious. Someone, some worthless creature, had stolen his goose. It had been intended that the goose would be feasted upon on Christmas Day. “Kill the fatted goose!” had been the pre-Christmas cry in the vicarage for a number of years.

“I want all to sit,” blasted the vicar to the congregation. “All sit! All be seated!”

The congregation sat.

“The person who stole the goose is not yet seated,” declared the vicar.

“Yes I am,” called out Harvey O’Donoghue.

2075. Virginia’s chocolates

Virginia thought she would learn to make chocolates. Not chocolate, but chocolates – those things with something scrumptious like a nut or some fruit jelly encased inside. She had once read about it in a magazine but unfortunately she neither had the magazine nor too much of a memory as to what the magazine said.

But these days there was the internet. Everything could be found on the internet including the making of chocolates. She would find an easy method and follow it to a tee. It was like magic how the centre got into the chocolates, especially if the centre was runny. A nut could simply be dipped into melted chocolate, but runny stuff was another thing altogether. Virginia thought she would begin with a strawberry flavoured centre.

Part of the problem was that Virginia, in the main, was a terrible procrastinator. She would put things off, and put things off. This was not to be the case with her chocolate-making. She would aim to have little baskets of chocolates to give out this coming Easter. She couldn’t mess around. It was almost inevitable that the first chocolates she made would be a disaster, but perhaps by the second attempt she might produce something good enough to serve as an Easter gift.

Virginia went shopping with the list of things required. When it came to flavouring, she wondered, looking at all the options available in the supermarket aisle, whether she should make a variety of flavours and not just strawberry. There was strawberry, and raspberry, and apricot, and lemon, and orange, and… the choices went on and on. In the end, Virginia settled for strawberry and orange. Then there was the mould. She hadn’t realized there were so many shapes available. She chose moulds that were in the shape of vegetables: carrots and pumpkins and zucchinis and so on.

When she got home Virginia wonder if the vegetable shapes were appropriate for Easter. She should have got bunnies and cockerels and eggs. Not to worry – she would make do with what she had.

Anyway, that was last Easter. With Thanksgiving approaching Virginia still hadn’t made any chocolates, but the vegetable moulds would be more than suitable for Thanksgiving. Yes! She would make little baskets of chocolates to give out this coming Thanksgiving. Or perhaps Christmas. Christmas would be better. It was more of a chocolatey occasion than Thanksgiving.

2021. Tinsel and bauble

(This is not per se a return to a daily posting but the stories stopped at Number 2020 and that was last year! So here’s a single story to bring the numbering up to date!)

Christabelle had the most beautiful (and expensive) Christmas decorations. Really, if the neighbours had seen them they would have been embarrassed by their own tree.

Two of the decorations were particularly splendid. Their names were Tinsel and Bauble. It so happened that they both ended up on the same branch of the tree.

“Oh! What a magnificent decoration!” declared Christabelle’s friend, Tawnya, when she visited.

There was still two weeks to go before Christmas, and both splendid decorations claimed that Tawnya was referring to them.

“I’m the most beautiful!” exclaimed Tinsel.

“I’m the most beautiful!” exclaimed Bauble. “Tawnya was enamoured by my beauty not yours.”

This went on for weeks. Christmas was over. New Year’s Day came and went. Tinsel and Bauble detested each other. Hate would not be too strong a word.

When Christabelle put the decorations away, Tinsel and Bauble happened to be placed next to each other in the same box.

It was going to be a long year.

1895. Cruel names

Merry was called Merry because she was born on Christmas Day. Clearly her parents didn’t realize that the proper spelling of Mary had also some connection with Christmas. Merry spent her entire life, as a punishment for her parents’ lack of knowledge, saying, “No! That’s not how you spell it!”

Just over two years later, when her little brother was born, it was New Year’s Day, so he was named “Happy”. It was a providential name because when he grew up and began a career in looting he shot a couple of policemen and was known within close circles as “Trigger Happy”.

There was a third child in the family. He was called Roger; short for Roger Mortis. The parents thought it a huge joke because he was born on the very day that Grandma died. Spelling was not the parents’ greatest strength so “Rigor” was registered as “Roger”. Otherwise if he had been born on an ordinary day of the year they had in mind to call the baby Plain Jane if a girl, and Joe Blogs if a boy. And then Grandma stepped up to the plate. Roger had escaped from having a life lumbered with silliness.

Honestly, a number of people were relieved that the parents didn’t create further children. “I’m sure any uncreated children would be more than grateful that they never came into this world,” declared a neighbour, Ms. Stacey Meldrum. Stacey herself has a host of kids. I can only remember the names of three of them; Tabernacle, Vernacular, and Genuflection. After these three Stacey developed an interest in organic chemistry.

1865. Early shopping

(Dear Faithful and truly-tried Readers – sometimes it’s rainy and dull outside (it is winter here) and blogging takes on the flavour of the weather. So since I’m twiddling my thumbs I thought I’d go silly for a time – which is why my nomenclature on this blog is now Cloven Ruminant. (You can still call me Bruce – and anyway, Cloven Ruminant is better than Split-hoofed Cud-chewer). Quite a number of excellent bloggers are configured in a pseudonym so I thought I’d do the same and free myself from the shackles of expectation. Those shackles of expectation can at times be nullifying to ones creativity, so I’m breaking free! One never knows what riff-raff the cat might drag in when using another name. Incidentally, the goat gravatar is not a selfie but a picture of Billy my Goat. I’m younger and more beautiful. Anyway, here’s today’s story. Thanks – Cloven Ruminant).

Goodness! It was only July and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

As each gift was purchased, Malvina would wrap it carefully in Christmas paper and pencil the name of the person-to-receive. One year she had attached little cards to the gifts with the person’s name, but by the time Christmas arrived some of the cards had fallen off and she had to open the gifts to see who should get what. These days, as it neared Christmas, she would attach name cards.

And so it was! Here it was in July and already the Christmas shopping was done, the gifts were wrapped and well-hidden in a suitcase at the back of her bedroom closet. She had to hide things particularly well because all seventeen grandchildren were budding sleuths. So far, thankfully, they had never ventured into her bedroom closet.

Goodness! It was only September and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

Goodness! It was nearly Christmas and Malvina hadn’t even started her Christmas shopping. Usually she shopped for gifts throughout the year, but this year the time had flown. “I don’t know where the time goes to,” she said. She thought she had bought some gifts earlier, but she couldn’t find them. Usually she hid the gifts in a box in the cupboard in her garage but there was nothing there. How the years melded into one another. She must have shopped for the previous year!