Friday, December 28, 2018

Stan's Seasonal Conundrum; The Elf strikes back.

My Guest Blogger Today
Hamishina McSami

I think  this might be a first for the MIE bloggers, an inter continental multi linguistic multi cultural  blog. ( Stan's got culture and I don't!).  I was just going to repeat Stan's Blog. And maybe argue with him, or agree with him, bearing in mind that any arguing is being done from a few thousand miles away.

But I got a guest blogger from Lapland to do it for me.   I think it would be apposite if her comments were in bold. Stan's orginal words of wisdom in faint font. Hamishina McSami's are in feint font! 

So the Scottish percentage ( that will be the intelligent bit!)

A seasonal conundrum ( No, it's not a conundrum, it's set in stone by people in power. Like the mother- in- law.)

First, a very happy holiday to all our readers. I wish you a healthy and happy 2019, surrounded by piles of books.   With this I concur. And Like Yoda I talk. Like Prosecco I drink. Healthy, prosperous and creative New Year to you all. As I am one of Santa's Elves, I'm on holiday now, it's been a busy week.


When I grew up in Johannesburg, my parents worked hard to make our Christmas just like the European one of their heritage (Wales ( rains and they sing a lot, Scotland ( rains and they swear a lot), Norway ( lovely country,  fabulous opera house in Oslo that proves sobriety or well  co-ordinate drunkenness). Of course, it started with a Christmas tree, suitably adorned with decorations, lights, and a star on top. Then we had to spray it with artificial snow to complete the scene.


The snow was all important for Santa to be able to deliver the goods! I always felt sorry for the old man, dressed as he was to ward off the cold, when the temperature outside was somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees C (approximately 80 - 88 degrees F). And that was in Johannesburg. Down at the coast in Durban, the temperature was at least ten degrees warmer. Poor man.

Scottish children very often have a special guidance system to help Santa through the snow. They sing louder. You see Stan, Santa is up very high and it's cold up there, hence why Santa resembles Ranulph Fiennes. And he needed to hear us to know what chimney to come down ( if you had been good. Knowing you, you might have been bad, annoying hippos and belting the living daylights out of golf balls, so  you might not have been on Santa's GOOD list.  Caro always was.  We elves check these things carefully.  And this is a fictional blog.) But Caro and her friends  had to sing  so Santa could hear them and know where they were.  Santa usually got stuck in the rain cloud that hovers permanently over Glasgow, or  on the M8 if  there was a drone at the airport.  Then the kids would be quiet as Santa landed on the roof of the Clydeside crane makers where  Caro's Dad worked. The kids listened for every noise.... then they had to sing again in case Santa went into the wrong office... and then, he came down the chimney and they all got a present. He really did come down the chimney in that factory but I guess it had big chimneys and  a small crane was involved somewhere.
The effect was pretty spectacular anyway.
  I also wondered what the reindeer thought of the heat and lack of snow. They think it's was a great idea.   What do you all a deer with no eyeballs? No idea.    One from the cracker there.

The Scottish side of my family exerted considerable influence over the Christmas meal.  ( they know how to party) Everyone dressed relatively formally - most uncomfortable  ( in case the Minister popped in) - then, after a few drinks, we enjoyed turkey and ham,  (Turkey) with all the trappings ( trimmings), stuffing ourselves to the gills. ( Too rude to translate this into Scots but Stuffed Bung Foo would do it ) Even the kids were allowed half a glass of bubbles ( whisky and tell them it's Irn Bru and watch them keel over). The grand finale was closing all the curtains to darken the room, ( It's dark by twenty past three in Glasgow, it's not light in Lapland until the year 2023 ) followed by the ceremonial entrance of the flaming plum pudding accompanied by the skirl of the bagpipes played by my cousins, Murray MacGregor.  ( for a better result put plum pudding in ears while Murray plays bagpipes and eat cranachan) Then all the kids eagerly awaited their helping, hoping to find a small coin embedded in it. When very young, the amount was a 'tickey' (what we called a thrjppeny coin), but inflation eventually resulted in the treasure being half a crown (two shillings and six pence). Caro called them a thruppeny bit, then inflation  forced it to a sixpence ( 5p). This tradition is now banned by health and safety as with some folk's cooking, the raisins were so hard they were indistinguishable from a metal coin. And swallowed.


Finally, the meal over, stomachs stretched, the kids would stagger to the swimming pool  (  log fire) and lie down  ( in a blanket ) next to it in the glorious sunshine ( basking in the heat of the flames). In later years, we would have a watermelon in the pool, secretly injected with vodka. ( Was that a trick learned from Errol Flynn?)

So what is the conundrum? Indeed?We elves need the employment.

For me, ever since I was very young, I found it really weird that we wanted to perpetuate a European tradition in Africa.  After all, Christianity didn't originate in a snow-covered land. And there's no evidence that Santa was white. So why perpetuate those myths? After all, there were plenty of black Christians. Why not have an African Christmas more suited to where we were? Perhaps a baobab rather than an evergreen tree. Maybe a black Santa wearing summer attire, arriving on an elephant or a bicycle.   We live at the North Pole, it'd take Santa ages to cycle out of there!

Because, as I am sure you know. most of all that  is Pagan, Russian or German.   As to the Christian bit,  you are probably right.  The rest of  it is about the change of the year when life was really hard for the ancestors of the Northern European bloggers. A bad winter meant a early death. They would long for the sun,  as the Africans would long for the rain.
It would be about survival I guess.

The conundrum is what to tell my grandkids. ( Don't tell them anything, they will use it against you! These could be the people  choosing your care home) All around, even today, in the shops and media, Santa is  an old white man and arrives in a sled drawn by reindeer. Still very colonial. So out of place. But the kids expect it. And the last thing I want to do is spoil their Christmas. And it is tradition, nothing more than that.  If you say something Santa might not visit.

Is it not all the more magical for being  different?   They can explain things like that in Lapland, they have the National Elf Service for that.

Should I suffer in silence?  ( Would it be cheeky to say that you'd the first man who ever did!)

The  fireplace all ready for Santa, with a with dram for him and a carrot for Rudolfina.

Hamishina McSami.  Senior Elf  (Reindeer Nose Polishing Section)


  1. You raised a good point (amazing!) and that is the bit about Santa coming down the chimney! Chimney? I don't have a chimney If Santa rode a bike, he'd be thin and healthy and fit through a crack in the wall. Maybe that's why I didn't get any presents this year.

  2. I believe in some countries Santa gets a special key to let him in at the patio doors.
    I have a big chimney, with a big log fire and I got loads of presents. I think we might be onto something here...

    1. I wish Hamishina had told me last week that Santa could be given keys to patio doors. We have seven! Maybe I'll get a prezzie next year.

  3. We have a pellet stove insert in our fireplace, so we get our one present out of the stove, as that's all that will fit in there. Sigh. Life is SO full of trade-offs. But Hamishina McSami is a world treasure.

  4. Hamishina McSami has added a wee photo of the best dressed fireplace for Santa enticement.

  5. A yiddish elf? In Scotland no less. Who would have guessed? Yep, for in Yiddish Haimisha means "simple, warm, relaxed, cozy, unpretentious." It fits perfectly.