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EVERYTHING BUT: Sounding Board

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

EVERYTHING BUT: Sounding Board

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A YOUNG MAVERICK said the other day that he hated Christmas. It turned out he couldn’t stand the music.
I can’t say the heavy rotation of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer wouldn’t cause ear bleeding. But I insist: thank God for the music, or Christmas wouldn’t be special any more.
Already some deejays want to spoil the specialness by playing Brook Benton’s You Are All I Want For Christmas at dances throughout the year. The sound of Yule belongs to December.
Okay, if you must stretch it, I’ll give you until January 6. I won’t be dismissive of the 12 days of Christmas. But we definitely can’t have carolling and the like at Easter and Independence. We must respect the seasons.
My Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a carol as a “religious song or popular hymn associated with Christmas” – which falls in December, and not November. Actually, in some countries it is considered extremely bad luck to play Christmas carols before December, or after Christmas Day (including on Boxing Day).
As for the Christmas tree, which goes with the singing, it can go up any time in December before Christmas (although some people do unconscionably put it up earlier – before Independence). And it is considered bad luck to leave your Christmas tree up after January 6 too.
So if by error you do, to fight off misfortune, I am told, you have got to keep that tree up – lights and all – till next Christmas. Contradiction at first, gobbledegook on further consideration.
When I was a child, the arrival of this special time was heralded by Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Mario Lanza on the old Rediffusion box, and pristine white marl (representative of snow in much cooler climes) which was spread as evenly as possible around the house and in the backyard. The lay often hurt the ankles of us little ones, given the odd-shaped marl stones that were omnipresent.
It was a relief when the sunshine Christmas became acceptable and the contrived white snow was no more.
Ham used to be a synonym for Christmas back then. The imported delicacy hung from the shop’s rafters and smelled of yummy salty flesh. A village of tantalizing ham aroma was second to none on Christmas Eve, the fate of the porcine source not worrying a single soul. Not so with the home pigs though, and yardfowls and turkeys. The shrieks of the pigs, which Andrew Bynoe and those of us of his age group knew personally, were properly unnerving. We felt the excruciating pain as the dagger plunged into the beast’s heart and the boiling water took every hair off its skin as it was tumbled into the waiting tub. Didn’t know much about the RSPCA at that time.
We little ones were coerced into being conspirators in the beheading of the fowls and turkeys we used to identify by name, and which knew us by sight. Betrayal of helpless creatures for a bellyful is a terrible thing; you have to live with it for the rest of your life.
It has to be said that I did not participate in the demise of my male pet turkey. I just missed him when I came back home in the evening, only to see my yard companion hours later in the freezer expertly plucked and wrapped in pawpaw leaves for tenderizing. He must have put up a good fight, for he was muscular and used to protect me from a very aggressive cockerel who felt the place was his.I do not eat gobbling meat to this day. You don’t devour family. I have given cold turkey a whole new meaning.
So I am not into the feasting at Christmas; just a little vodka with Bobby here and a brandy with Big Wheel there. Or a stiff wine with Stephen, Winston, Mark and Frank.
All the while I am into my Christmas music, and will be up to New Year’s Day.
Christmas music not only soothes the savage beast within you, it heals your conscience even more.
A blessed New Year, everybody!