Wiseman and Women

Well Christmas has almost arrived and, as the Carol says, 'the hopes and fears of all the years' seem to be held in it's magic.

Our hopes are that we humans might have learnt from the previous year's mistake and do better in the future. Our fears are perhaps that it will be just more of the same.

So what can we gain from the Christmas story?

There were shepherds, which doesn't seem unreasonable seeing that the central location was a stable. A GNVQ in animal care would seem a handy thing to have at such a time.

We have angels running an all night party. The fact that they started their conversation with the phrase 'do not fear' shows something of their commitment to a good show.

We have magi from the east on some kind of first century gap year. They had followed a star that was pointing to a significant event. Gap year students are so easily lead by bright lights.

Then we have a young couple with a new baby living in a single room. They had already had transport issues leading them to have to travel by donkey.

Perhaps they should have known that Christmas is a busy time to take a journey.

It has the makings of a great story.

So what have we made of it. Well for one it has been relegated to being a U certificate. It's been cleaned up for the kids.

Perhaps we have so overdosed on finding tea towels for prospective shepherds that Herod's attempt at infanticide has been left on the cutting room floor.

The typical school nativity play seems a long way from such things.

The central characters were in essence asylum seekers in a foreign land for a few years after the arrival of their first born.

I wonder if the locals ever blamed them for 'taking our jobs'. I could imagine the local carpenters union being up in arms about the whole thing.

The most amazing thing is that the story has lasted for two thousand years.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect is that it is full of themes that seem all two familiar to our modern life.

What we need is a fat guy in a red outfit to distract us from such serious thoughts. Throw in a few elves and the sound of slay bells and we will soon forget that the shepherds were given a serious fright by what they saw. Let alone that the Wisemen had to return home by a different route.

I wonder if the nativity story still has the power to give us a wake up call and demand a change of direction for 2010.

Wise men (and women) take note!

Happy Mid-Winter Festival

Season's Greetings! Or so the card said, almost inviting complaints from the purists as about the real meaning of Christmas.

This doesn't surprise me; as far back as I can remember it has been surrounded by a certain amount of controversy.

There was a headline back in the seventies declaring that it would be more historically accurate to hold the festival in March. I suppose it would give us a few extra shopping days if we moved it.

Here we are a few decades later with a local museum upsetting a church leader by renaming it a mid-winter festival.

What are we to think?

I suppose most of us don't really care in the midst of our busyness and merry making.

The season's songs don't help us to get a true picture.

We Three Kings tells us the number of wise men who came from the east when the earliest story doesn't actually reveal how many.

Away in a Manger informs us that this child was so unusual 'no crying he makes'.

The song 'I Saw Three Ships' has Mary and the child on a sea voyage when Bethlehem is land locked.

Before you get the idea that it is only the traditional songs that offer simple and misleading ideas let us consider some more recent offerings.

Roy Wood tries to get us to believe that he wishes 'It Could Be Christmas Everyday'; a sentiment we are happy to sing when merry but none of us truly believe.

Then there is the immensely selfish song that begins 'Oh the weather outside is frightful'. After teasing us with how warm the fire is, it challenges the weather to Let it snow. Fine if you are inside in front of burning coal but not if you are stuck on the M62.

Even Saint Bob and Monk Midge miss the mark in their modern anthem that raised millions for charity. Perhaps we should forgive its factually incorrect message that there 'wont be snow in Africa this Christmas time'.

So what is the reason for the season? Some might say its all about the partying. Others might say its all about the gifts. It might be all about the family. My Grandma used to say it is all about the kids. She was nearly right; it is all about the child.

Jungle Rat

Just a few days ago Gino De Campo was crowned King of the Australian Jungle and was immediately arrested for eating a rat.

It's a good job that it's reality TV otherwise you wouldn't believe it!

For those who haven't been watching I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Gino is an Italian TV chef who has managed to gain more popularity than a boxer, a snooker player, and lady who cleans toilets on the telly. All of whom entered the show as a personal challenge and not to gain publicity.

I am not sure what rights rats have in Australia, or what organisations are set up to protect them, but it seems he ate the wrong type of rodent. This strikes me as rather odd seeing that it took place in the land of the barbecue where meat is king.

It wasn't as of he just hit it on the head and took a bite; he used his culinary skills to turn it into a dish fit for any alternative eating establishment.

Anyway someone was upset and complained, meaning that Gino was in trouble.

I wonder what his defence might be should it get to court. Surely his new found status as King would go a long way to ensuring his freedom.

The precedent has already been set: In Britain it is an offence to eat swan unless of course you are the reigning monarch or she has given her approval to do so.

In truth his excuse will probably be that he was hungry after spending a couple of weeks in the jungle on limited rations.

The result of any court case will most likely depend on the make-up of the jury. If they are mostly vegetarians he will no doubt be given a lengthy sentence. If, however, he is tried in front of students he will surely be forgiven: they, of all people, know how hunger can drive them to eating all manner of strange food combinations.

There is talk that the rat related complaint was made because of the suspicion that it might be a tame specimen. That perhaps it had been taken out of its normally secure environment and placed in the jungle to add amusement to the dull lives of millions of viewers. That it had become a mere commodity in the TV ratings war.

Not much different than the contestants then!

Hairy Top Lip

Christmas approaches fast and not only are we faced with all the pressure of what presents to buy we have to decide what to eat for our celebration meal.

It seemed so easy when was younger; it was just a case of turning up and, as if by mum magic, the food appeared.

Now most of the responsibility is ours because we are supposed to be adults.

Another pressure of this festive season is what we should wear for the Christmas parties. The surgery that keeps my wife busy as a nurse for most of the week have decided upon a theme to aid us in our choice. This year we are encouraged to don 1920's attire.

My wife seems to have it sussed but I feel limited to bringing out my tuxedo again. In light of this I decided to add a little challenge to the ensemble by including a moustache. I could have bought one from the local fancy dress store but my wife suggested that I might grow one.

This appealed to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I haven't had a muzzy for over twenty years and the idea of growing one intrigued me. Mrs M had always been negative toward the idea but now it was her suggestion.

The second reason is that when I was a teenager I had a handle bar moustache which I lost within two-weeks of going out with my future wife. I was proud of it but I wanted to impress her more than fighting to keep it.

I need to point out that back in the day such facial hair was fashionable and this was before the village people made it in the UK charts, just.

Anyway, for the last two weeks I have been holding back from shaving my top lip. As an extra bonus I have allowed the growth to form the shape of a handle bar.

At first Mrs M didn't notice the extra hair but when she did she was quick to voice her disapproval. It seems that the passage of time has not softened her feelings towards the look.

I tried to appease her by saying that it was only for a bit of fun but it didn't convince her and for two of three days she found plenty of opportunities to make comment.

I resisted for a while until eventually she broke my resolve. She looked at me for a moment and then said that she found it interesting that unlike the hair on my top lip the handlebars were growing out grey.

So without objection I have shaved them off and left the remains of what might turn out to be an authentic 1920's muzzy.

All I need now is a monocle, a hand full of hair gel, and a kiss curl. Bring on the Charleston!