….AND FORGIVE US OUR CHRISTMASES
The Autumn sales had ended. There followed an appearance of greeting cards in the shops, imitation holly and cotton-wool snow in the centrally heated departmental stores, plastic robins on the check-out registers of the supermarkets, and double – page adverts for wines, spirits, jewellery, toys,TV’s, and so on, in the colour supplements of the Sunday newspapers. The people began to prepare for the coming feast. Thinking, for their lunch, of chickens, turkeys, geese, joints of meat, boiled and roast potatoes, peas, sprouts, gravy and sauce, with pudding and custard, plus mince-pies and cream to follow. Thinking, for their tea, of salads, with sausage rolls and slices of cold meat and pickles, fancy pastries, tinned or fresh fruit topped with condensed milk,and followed by a wedge of iced cake. Thinking, for the evening, of sweets and chocolates, nuts, fruit in the dried or candied form, and in particular the variety of spirits, wines, beers, and sugar-filled soft drinks. And the shop owners, realising that there was much money in the pockets of the people at this time, put up the prices of their goods. But the people were not to be deterred from buying presents for relatives they did not really love, for friends they did not particularly like, and for colleagues they simply loathed. So they crowded the counters, snatching cards from each other, and pushing each other in their attempts to grasp for the goods — and nearly all the time the little children cried. As the day itself approached, the voices of the seasonal singers were drowned by both the noise of the traffic and the shouts from the fairgrounds; and the sermons of thousands of ministers echoed in many poorly attended churches. Now it came to pass that a certain woman, heavy with child, had wandered far, seeking both a place to lay and a people to welcome her delivery. But no rooms were available and, in any case,the people were not looking for any birth for they were glued to their colour tellies watching the ‘soaps’. And, as they poured themselves another drink, lit another cigar, cut another slice of cold meat, undid yet one more button, and wished each other the compliments of the season, a few did in fact wonder where the faint cries of a newly-born hungry child were coming from..
– Ray Gerry