Cartoon credit to Mike Baldwin

The pavements are crowded now with folk
all rushing round with bulging bags –
some might be comforted by this sight
while others, though, it fills with fright.

The pressure to keep everybody happy,
because we want to please the ones we love,
can be overwhelming at this season
when it’s so hard to know we’ve got it right.

We can blame it on tradition
and memories of joy when still a child,
helped out by the advertisers
and shops decked out in colours oh so bright.

They just want to part us from our money
and don’t care if many get even more in debt –
it’s often their most important time
to stay in profit or to lose the fight.

In the middle of the northern winter
humans like to stay home warm and revel –
we know it’s not much to do with Jesus –
he’s only the excuse for all this shite.

I remember butchers’ shops years past
with unplucked turkeys hung up by their heels
between the mistletoe and holly,
and there were fewer special deals.

Chickens were back then a luxury,
till Dad tried to rear his own,
while beef and lamb were less expensive,
even when still on the bone.

Other fare was more exotic
belonging to this time of year –
nuts of all kinds still in shells,
mandarins and dates you spear ..

.. with that long thin plastic fork,
though nowadays we’d think it shocking,
it was once a big deal for a kid
to find an orange in your xmas stocking.

Chestnuts to roast in the open fireplace
added one more flavour to the feast,
compared to some, we weren’t that rich,
but our dad had a steady job at least.

So most of that would be shop bought,
just like it is today,
but other things would be home made
and they were tastier that way.

Mum would make the xmas pud and cake,
as well as lots of real mince pies,
we’d help out by picking stalks off currants
munching as we did so – no surprise.

This is not a plea for more nostalgia –
we get enough of that rammed down our necks –
but somehow it felt so much more authentic
than what’s pumped out of TV sets.

So, when you do your xmas shopping,
don’t worry if it’s tinged with guilt and fear –
apart from capitalism’s brain rape,
it’s quite normal for the time of year.

rs 30.11.18

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