+++*

Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts tagged with ‘Christmas’

Presents

In which I rant about lottery advertising

Today, I suppose, I should really go out and start looking for Christmas presents for people. I have no idea, at all, what anybody wants; no idea what anybody needs; and no idea what I’m going to buy. I know what I’m not going to buy, though.

On the way between our house and the local library, there’s a bus stop, and as bus stops tend to, it has a space for advertising on the side. And at the moment, the advert is nothing more than: a giant picture of a lottery scratchcard. With a slogan something along the lines of: “The ideal present for Christmas”.

Now. Just wait a minute. No. No, it isn’t. Excuse me for wanting to rant, but a lottery scratchcard is, in so many ways, just about the worst Christmas present imaginable. If you can think of worse ones, please let me know. Never mind a gambling ethics debate, it’s wrong in so many other ways. It’s small, flat, hardly anything to unwrap, no box to shake, no wrapping paper to tear off with abandon. Its entertainment value lasts for all of, ooh, about 3 seconds. It’s completely thoughtless and says nothing at all about the recipient, the giver, or anybody: it has no emotional or personal value whatsoever. And, finally, the chances are that it’s valueless: a piece of litter. It’s less use as a present than a sheet of wrapping paper. Or a stick. If I was given one as a present, I’d be crossing that person out of my address book straight away. And then hire assassins. Maybe I’m not the target audience for the advert, but there’s no way in hell that a poster is going to persuade me that buying a scratchcard for someone is a good plan as a present for them. What on earth would it say about me, for one thing? That I have so little imagination that I’ve bought them, ooh, a coloured piece of paper with that silver rub-off stuff on it.* Because a poster said so. Because that’s how brain-dead I am.

So, no. That’s not going to be on the shopping list, at least.

* What the hell is that stuff, anyway?

Advent

In which The Mother sends an advent calendar

Despite my age, The Mother still makes sure to send me an advent calendar every year. I’m not quite sure why she feels the need. She buys me one, sends it, we remember to open the doors for a few days, then leave it and suddenly remember, around the 20th, that we now have a few weeks worth of chocolate to eat. So far this year we’ve opened it every day, but I’m not really sure how long that’s going to last.

When I was small, of course, I got one every year – but always kept the previous years’. This was in the days before chocolate advent calendars – or, at least, the days before my mother felt it worth buying chocolate advent calendars, which I didn’t start receiving until the 90s. Back when I was a child, every year on the first of December the advent calendar collection would be stuck up on the doors of the house, and every day thereafter I’d run around the house opening each day’s doors. We did, after a few years, start running out of doors.

Godlike powers

In which we’re not impressed

Christmas came, and brought the flu. I was in bed most of yesterday, aching, coughing and sleeping.

We really weren’t impressed by the ending of Doctor Who on Christmas Day. Russell T Davies doesn’t know how to write a good ending – as demonstrated both by the end to the last series, and the Christmas special. I’m dreading the new series, and I really hope he’ll have written as few episodes as possible. Give the writing jobs to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat in future, please.

Today

In which I am ill

Today, I’ve drunk several cups of tea. I’ve sat reading for a while; I’ve sat online for a while, and later I’m going to be zooming about the English motorway system.* In other words, just like any other non-working day. The only alcohol in my system is: two spoonfuls of Benylin.

Somehow, though, I have this sudden urge to gorge myself on poultry and roast vegetables, before lying back in an armchair, burping, eating Ferrero Rocher** and watching Doctor Who on the telly. It must be genetic, or something.*** At least Doctor Who can wait until evening. If you’re reading this, today: go and look at one final Christmas card, then switch off the computer, and either go down the pub, or lie on the sofa and belch like a normal person.

* insert Sarah Nixey impression here.

** yes, I did get given a box. And socks. And underwear. And the new Terry Pratchett, as per usual.

*** It’s been scientifically-proved – by the FP Militant Invective Laboratories, of course – that British people have a genetic susceptibility towards a love of apparently-immortal and godlike aliens who can build time-travelling phone boxes.

Binge-eating

In which we have spare chocolate

I’ve just realised something. So far, I’ve eaten one day of my advent calendar. I still have 23 days left to go. It might not be as good as K’s home-made peanut butter cups,* but HURRAH!

* although it is a morally-uplifting fair trade advent calendar, obtained by The Mother from church.

Yuletide

In which we feel like cancelling Christmas but bringing back Yule

There’s five days to go, and I already feel like I want to cancel Christmas. I haven’t written a single card. I haven’t bought many presents, and I have no idea what The Parents actually want. To be fair, neither do they. I try to go look for something on my lunch break, and everyone else has had the same idea. The roads into town are gridlocked; as soon as I’ve found a parking space, it’s time to head out back to the office again.

But then, I look out at the night sky, and I remember what the Yuletide season is really about. I feel the crisp air, watch the frost, and think about the turning seasons. On Saturday,* the daytime stops shrinking and slowly starts to get longer again; and there is winter itself to enjoy. As this year starts to turn over into the next, I know I’m older, wiser, learning more about who I am and what I enjoy in life; and becoming happier with it, too. And I’m looking forward to life with excitement, and wondering just what we’re going to do next.

* Pedants might point out that the solstice is on the 21st, and Saturday is the 22nd. However, the solstice isn’t always on the same date. This December it’s on the 22nd, unless you’re in the Far East.

Festive Music

In which we ponder the potential Christmas Number One

As it’s the week before Christmas: it’s time for the most pointless contest in music: the Christmas Number One Single. It may be slightly meaningless, and it may well end up being won by some talent-show contestant with nothing interesting about him whatsoever; but at least it gets people buying and listening to music. I hope.

The Last.FM website is campaigning to get “Lips are Unhappy” by Lucky Soul to the top of the charts. They have a lot of users, but I’m not sure they’re going to make it. Radio One, on the other hand, is apparently backing “We’re All Going To Die” by Malcolm Middleton. Now, “We’re All Going To Die” is a wonderful song. It’s the opening track to Middleton‘s last album, the one with the David Shrigley artwork, and it’s a lively, exciting, life-affirming piece of music, a wonderful thing to play at this time of year.* I’d be completely behind it, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s Radio One supporting the damn thing. Admittedly, one of their better DJs, and someone who works hard to broaden the range of what the station plays; but still, I feel slightly odd about the idea of agreeing with a Radio One-related campaign.

* Never mind what the title says, and never mind it being by someone out of Arab Strap, it’s not actually depressing at all.

That time of the year

Or, time to start planning next Yule

Next year, and in future, I’m going to make my own Yuletide and/or Christmas cards, pretending to come from intriguing-sounding fictitious organisations.

Blessed Yule from the Chocolate Digestive Research Association

Or, if I feel really energetic, invent complete round-robin letters in a similar vein

2007 was a busy year for everyone at the Calderdale Explorers And Adventurers Society. In January, Sir Reginald Outhwaite (membership no. 207) discovered an entirely new and unmapped area of wilderness near Denholm Clough, but was soon overshadowed by Col. Andrew Davidson-Spong’s discovery of a lost Andean civilisation in the hills just outside Todmordon. February was quiet, but March brought our annual big-game hunting expedition, this year in a part of the world our members rarely visit – Scarborough.

Seasonal tidings to anyone who has come online today. I’m off now, to throw balled-up wrapping paper for the cat to play fetch with.

Ideas wanted

In which we ponder Christmas presents

It’s not quite the Christmas season for a while yet, but it’s getting near the time when I’m starting to think about what presents to buy. And, particularly, what to buy for the parents. I never know. I always try to think of something unusual, different and interesting, and I usually end up buying the same old books and DVDs for them.

Last year, the mother received a fossilised fish, because Colleague M Emily* had bought something very similar for her mother, so that gave me the idea. On paper it was a terrible present for my mother, because she hates ornaments. Everyone else at the office said “a fish? Why are you getting your mother a fish?” As it turned out, though, she loved it.

This year, though, I haven’t spotted anything equally unusual; and I have to think of things for my dad, too. Any suggestions?

* she asked I use her real name, in case you were feeling confused. Her mother’s present was a pair of polished stone bookends; I bought my mother’s fish-slab from the same shop.