Claustrophobia

Recipe –Shortcake with rosewater whipped cream and fresh cherries.

I noticed, long ago, that life has very specific patterns.

Every year, about two months before the end of the year, I start hearing Christmas music. More specifically, Christmas music by disco-leftovers Boney M. Yes, but unlike Boney M, we have not moved on. Every year we listen to the same songs that have as much spunk and flavour as last week’s leftover meatballs.

Observing the shopping rush over a frothy cappuccino in an over crowded coffee shop, I do believe Dave Berry was right when he said: “Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”

Judging by the painful expressions, it appears as if Windhoekers are determined to find out what will breakdown first, their wallets or their feet.

As someone who tries and fly by Buddhist radar most of the time, I have well-defined, ambivalent feelings toward a time that, I recon, show a remarkable breakdown in taste and intelligence.

It is almost as if everyone is determined to make up for bad behavior throughout the year, by even more bad behavior at the end of the year.

Parents, perhaps inspired by year-long guilt, shower their children with expensive, near-worthless gifts.

shortcake cherries rosewater

I have personally witnessed a two-year old girl rip the head off her new Christmas Barbie-doll and shoving it into her mouth within minutes of receiving it. Then, she was made to listen to long, rambling explanations by both parents about how dolls die and go to Barbie-heaven, and that she should not be sad, because it is a good place.

With that, off-course, came the adult, under-the-breath, aide-mémoire that money does not grow on a tree in the back yard, and that (now well-tipsy) daddy had spend good money from his annual bonus to buy the (now-worthless) doll. Perhaps she’d been better off with a homemade cookie.

Adults? Well, they just get downright puerile. For many, it is the season of the tipple.

To paraphrase Jay Leno, looks like we cannot have a nativity scene, not for religious reasons, but because we would not be able to find three wise men and a virgin.

I do understand the need to escape the precincts of our jobs and the exactitudes of our daily lives, but I cannot understand the voraciousness of the efforts made. There is simply no restraint, respect or temperance – its flat-out sideways, from one plate of indigestion to the next, from one babbelaas to the next.

Quite frankly, when in Christmas mode, people and their actions scare me. We’re a nation without restraint when it comes to eating, drinking and shopping, and we are at our worst during the Christmas holidays.

Yet, despite our efforts to impose our Christmas spirit on it, life continues to move by its own rhythm. People get born and people die. New love is found and old love gets lost. Friendships are forged and broken. Accidents happen and mindlessness prevails. Instead of slowing down, we are speeding up.

The clever people have a name for my condition, the one in which I fear the fat man in a red suit with a holy leaf tie and curly white beard.

It is called Claustrophobia. Yet in my case, it extends beyond the fat man to include the human condition that is brought about by his annual appearance. And by the looks of it, I have a good dose of it.

Instead of the traditional, heavy Christmas cake that no sober person should eat, I thought you might enjoy this one.

A shortcake with rosewater whipped cream and fresh cherries.

Take it to the beach, or to the park. Spread a bright blanket and have a quiet moment to think what Christmas is really all about.

Enjoy your holidays and love the ones you’re with.

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