Here it comes again….

Christmas is coming

The geese are getting fat

Please to put a penny

In the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny

A halfpenny will do

If you haven’t got a halfpenny

God bless you.

So here comes Christmas. Those with the cash will be splashing out for all the bling that the media can push at them – the clothes, the presents, the food and drink, the parties. Those who don’t have the cash but can get credit will be doing the same..refrigerators groaning under the strain of hoarding the items held essential to the season.

Those who have neither cash nor credit will be making do…the lucky ones helped by their families, the unlucky well in need of the the blessing of God just to get through.

I was in San Jose on Friday…the pavements have been cleared of the huge inflatable santas and the wickerwork reindeer which were, for all the years I have been here, a hazard to navigation, but in their absence the vast tide of shoppers now surges unhindered. All very well if you are coming in on that tide – next to fatal if not.

Trying to go down to the cheapo cheapo off licence downhill from the Mercado Borbon, where items for sale seem none the worse for their fall from the back of lorries, I made no headway whatsoever against the swarm of large ladies bearing shopping bags, followed by meek menfolk carrying sacks on their shoulders.

Women rule in Costa Rica.

I was reeled in by the tiny gentleman with a tomato stand by one of the entrances to the market and plonked down on his stool to recover my breath.

He summoned one of the market porters…

‘Take this lady down to the off licence…slowly now, she can’t walk very well. And bring her back!’

His solution to breaching the tidal wave was to take me by the arm and step out into the road, waving his arm to slow down passing traffic. It still amazes me how good humoured Costa Rican drivers are…try that in London and hope you have prepaid your funeral.

I made my purchases, was escorted back up the hill…still in the road despite going with the tide…and was deposited in the car park. Obviously I tipped him…but it was clear that he did not do it in hope of recompense. Helping old people is still regarded as normal here – at least as far as middle aged people are concerned. Younger ones are beginning to become less aware.

Christmas here is as commercial as in Europe…..and the tradition of the creche in each house and the visits among neighbours to pray together in the days before the 25th is dying out. State institutions still put up a creche in their premises, but this is increasingly cut off from the roots of the practice so will eventually become a hollow acknowledgement of tradition.

But Christmas is not just a commercial feast…it celebrates the birth of the Prince of Peace as heralded by the prophet Isaiah and, nomatter what our beliefs, that peace refers to a truce among nations, devoutly to be hoped for…but fearing the worst given the U.S. coat trailing against China and Russia in recent months.

At midnight on the 24th we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace…and hope and strive that we can force our national leaders to respect the call to beat swords into ploughshares.

Atmidnight inthe 24thin gthe meantime

In the meantime, let us, as in Alcis and Galatea, be happy for the moment, nomatter what might befall.


32 thoughts on “Here it comes again….”

    1. You’ve been busy again! I have started to read you latest book…as has Leo. It reminded him of a cousin in the family who was a train driver taking train loads of Jews from Belgium to their fate. He woke with nightmares most nights until his death in the sixties.

      1. Understandably why he had nightmares. At times when I’m researching the atrocities I have trouble sleeping so I can well imagine how difficult to have lived it. I’m so happy to have you both read the book. May this holiday time and 2020 bring better health and lots of laughter. I am truly grateful for our connection.

  1. Looks like a Prince of Peace theme in the comments. I think he got caught in the crossfire, though I hope I’m wrong about that. We’re doing our best to avoid that fate. We venture out only when we must, only as far as we need to go. My local mall has a chair and a tree, but no Santa. Maybe he went the way of your street Santas, or maybe they’re all hanging out with the Prince of Peace and our transit strikers in a nearby bar. If that’s the case, maybe I’ll join them. Have a lovely, warm Christmas. Best to Leo and the menagerie.

  2. One thing though, is that Christmas does act as a reminder to think of other people who are less fortunate, and to count our blessings too. I know quite a few people who are opening their homes to lonely people who have nobody this Christmas. So although the commercialism passes me by, I am basically pretty much in favour of it. Happy Christmas!!

  3. There can’t be too many places where anyone would treat anyone else as nicely as that! Notwithstanding my cynical view, and the commercialisation, Christmas is still a fundamentally Good Thing, God bless us every one. Loved the Lehrer – thank you; man’s a genius. And thank you for all your words this year, which are appreciated. Hope you and Leo have a stonkingly wonderful Christmas and nothing but good stuff in the new year!

    1. Have a great time over Christmas and New Year and keep that spectacular blog going…some of the places you write about I know…but so many more that I wish I has visited while still in the U.K.

  4. What a lovely post. It’s nice to read others’ sharing of their fatigue at the shameless commercialization of the holiday (luckily my mum’s birthday is the same day so we focus on her rather than pressies no one needs). Blessings on the fella who helped you out, the man who summoned him and to you and Leo this holiday season. Happy Christmas, Helen.

    1. The commercialisation sickens me…my cleaner is in despair as to how to meet her kids’ expectations.
      People here are just so nice…I am always surprised by it…that says a lot about our previous epieriences.

  5. Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and I hope health for both of you improves in 2020. Good to know that help is still on hand in some places for those of us that sometimes need it. Diane

  6. That was a great description of the local scene and of courtesy beyond the call. Thanks, too, for the seasonal songs. I had the volume up a bit and Max began howling to Handel so I think that George Frideric is his favorite (probably because he doesn’t understand Tom Lerher.) To help spur ourselves out of the Humbug Spirit we went out for a fancy Japanese dinner and then to the Il Divo Christmas concert at the spectacular Dolby Theater. It was worth transiting the sleaze that is Hollywood to hear those joyous and hopeful songs. Wishing you. Leo and the 9, 10 or 37 pups (I lost count) a delightful Christmas holiday at the Finca and all the best from Rancho Cucaracha.

    1. What a good idea to go out…the chance not to cook and wash up is in itself a celebratrion. So the pupmeister howls to Haendel…give him a go at Purcell!
      Have a great holiday…and don’t forget to install the cameras for the handover of gifts….

  7. I do like my takeaway of the tiny gentleman, with the tomato stand, reeling you in and sending you safely to the off license and back. My best to you and Leo.

  8. What a great choice of music!
    A great post overall and the music was wisely chosen.
    ‘Peace on earth, to men of goodwill.’
    Peace to you and Leo, Danilo and family also!

    1. I liked the placing of ‘also’….
      Glad you enjoyed it…now gird up your loins fior the New Year….if you don’t behave yourself it will be the White Heather Club and Jimmy Shand!

  9. The commercialisation of Christmas gets worse every year, but it’s not done to criticise it. If you hesitantly suggest we should all simplify Christmas, spend less money, eat less and drink less, people regard you as some kind of fun-hating misfit. And yes, we get caught up in huge crowds of Christmas shoppers buying enough food to keep an army going for months. Nice to know that helping old people is still regarded as normal where you are. In Britain it’s pot luck whether someone helps you or ignores you.

    1. Commercialisation is becoming the norm here too – such big changes since we first moved here. I don’t use the bus so much now but whereas in the past chaps would wait to see if anyone needed a hand down now it is only the elderly men who do so. The Mercado Borbon is regarded as being very rough and ready, but the people working there could not be more helpful…though telling a friend from an upmarket suburb about being helped down the road she was horrified and said whe would never let one of the market porters take her arm.
      More fool her.

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