GUEST COLUMN – Good King Welches and other carols
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says the word most searched for online this year was “austerity”, which means “enforced or extreme economy”. Given the crowds in the malls, streets and stores throughout the Caribbean, and the many Caribbean people in Miami, New York and elsewhere in shop-till-you-drop mode (shop, drop the parcels home or in the hotel, shop again, then drop again and again and again), a lot of us neither searched for nor found it.
If I had a word for the year it would not even be the second word on the Webster list – “pragmatic” which means “matter of fact”, “concerned with practical matters” and “practical”. Even though the times call for austerity, governments are spending more money than they earn and we are doing the same.
I may censure the government for throwing away our hard-earned money, but given my own love for Christmas, I will never blame anyone who, like a friend of mine, spent all his money on wine, women and song. The rest he spent foolishly.
The words “moratorium, “furtive” and “ebullient” are also on the Webster Top 10 list. They, too, capture the Christmas spirit in this year of austerity and pragmatism. Nobody, least of all the Government grinches, are even considering a moratorium on spending for the Christmas and those of us who are going to find ourselves in debt from our Christmas spending excesses are not behaving furtive at all. In fact, we are in, and imbibing, such high spirits that we are as ebullient as can be, higher than Santa Claus and with noses redder than Rudolph.
All these words from the economic downturn seem like a bad joke this Christmas. On December 19, the Telegraph ran an article, Top Ten Worst Christmas Cracker Jokes Ever.
Among the entries was, “Why was Santa’s little helper feeling distressed?” Because he has low elf esteem. Another asked, “How do snowmen get around?” On an icicle of course.
This Christmas there is a riot of new words or “neologisms”. One of them is Sarah Palin’s “refudiate” which seems to confuse “refuse” and “repudiate”. I once got really sick one Christmas and, as my mother told my father, it was “defudiate”.
Of course, I refudiated that immediately and indignantly between burps.
But seeing that we are into the season, here’s a really bad one, perhaps the worst ever Christmas joke, for the road. Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. “In honor of this holy season,” Saint Peter said, “You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.”
The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. “It represents a candle,” he said. “You may pass through the pearly gates,” Saint Peter said. The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, “They’re bells.” Saint Peter said, “You may pass through the pearly gates.”
The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women’s glasses. St Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, “And just what do those symbolize The man replied, “They’re carols.”