Christmas is nigh. Stay alert.

Helvi 1965

The best way to experience the closeness of Christmas is around the large shopping centers. A nervousness that without fail is palpable each year. I had to go to my local shopping center to stock up on some Brussel sprouts and buttermilk for Christmas. The shopping center itself sits on a very large underground carpark and today it was full of cars beeping horns with huge trolleys being emptied into yawning bonnets and boots. After having gone around a few times I managed to find an empty park lot that had a disabled sign depicted by a wheelchair. For some months now I proudly sport a disabled sign in my car. It is amazing how many now have those signs stuck on the front windows of their cars. I don’t particularly suffer major disability except a kind of anxiety when away from a nearby toilet. It is strange how age seems to announce itself with an angst when away from this convenience.

My first task when going about unfamiliar places is to sass out the local public toilet situation. Once that is done, I get about fulfilling the purpose of my visit with confidence and even some swagger. It is odd though that no sooner do I get home near the front door and this call of nature is calling frantically and urgently. I try and think of being with the Royal family or having to give a speech with the aim to ward off this strange urgency to use the toilet. It is the same when I wash up and turn on a tap. What is that about? Luckily those disabled parking places are often strategically placed near public conveniences. It must be fairly normal for the elderly to be in some kind of bladder urgency, or worse with intestinal hurry.

Anyway, I am straying off subject here and with Christmas just seven days away, shoppers are in full flight. I noticed a queue at the large smoked ham section. One customer was lifting a huge plastic wrapped large ham sniffing it, turning it around, holding it up to light as if a fine Shiraz. She was obviously a ham connoisseur. I don’t know what ham and Christmas have to do with each other. We did not have that tradition in The Netherlands, nor the minced pie festivity. At first, I thought they were mini meat pies but oh no, they are sweet and very sticky. My friends know I am a herring and buttermilk man and not at all into sweets. Still, Christmas is for everyone, and I have finished buying the presents that I will spread around my family and friends. The shopping frenzy will get worse and the predictions that spending will be less than last year hasn’t been borne out. In fact, it is a little higher than last year already. Shopkeepers are rubbing their hands together (in glee).

With this cheerful note, may I wish you a nice Christmas and all the best for the New Year?


29 Responses to “Christmas is nigh. Stay alert.”

  1. gerard oosterman Says:

    I had the post with both neigh and nigh. The neigh is of course about Santa’s horse, and nigh about the nearness of Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    A lovely post! A sweet photo of Helvi!
    Happy Christmas to you, Gerard, and a wonderful New Year!
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚
    PS…While shopping for food, I’ve seen melon-thumpers, but never a ham-sniffer! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  3. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    Several aspects of your post resonate with me, Gerard. But I do love those mince pies. It’s a very English tradition I inherited from my English mother and we have them every year. I wish you the best of the season. May you have a wonderful Christmas ,and I hope to read more of your posts next year.πŸŽ„

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bal837 Says:

    I am happy to see you are well. Merry Xmas, Gerard, and may you have an abundance of anchovies in the coming year. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  5. shoreacres Says:

    For some reason, our hams appeared at Easter. Turkey was for Thanksgiving. At Christmas, there might have been some ham, but our Swedish traditions held pride of place. We had potato sausage (a pork, onion, and potato mix that was delicious) and a jellied meat dish called sylta. There always was pickled herring, along with cardamom seed buns and lingonberries for the Swedish meatballs.

    I always helped my grandmother make the sausage; I’d give anything to find it commercially today, but it just doesn’t seem to be around. I do still make Swedish meatballs, and there’s always herring and cheese around during the holidays. Well, and the various cookies, too. Grandma’s gone, but her recipes endure!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, different strokes for different folks. I don’t know the history of hams. Yes, my winter in Finland was magic, especially enjoyable on a large traditional farmhouse which was Helvi’s family home with nine children.
      It had a huge oven, almost like a small room, in which her mother used to ladle in a large paddle of flattened dough ready to be baked into the most delicious dark bread called ‘leipaa’.
      Of course, the berries and the jellied meat were enjoyed as well.
      Such lovely memories.

      Liked by 2 people

    • auntyuta Says:

      I love Swedish meatballs! They’re available here at IKEA! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Julia Lund Says:

    Wishing you a happy Christmas and 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. catterel Says:

    A very blessed Christmas to you, Gerard. May you never be too far from a loo in 2023! (I really understand that angst!)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. auntyuta Says:

    As always, I am going to make a lovely potato salad for Christmas Eve, with lots of different ingredients, when all my family comes to my place for our traditional Christmas Eve celebrations. πŸ™‚

    The family brings a lot of food along, and they do all the catering, so that I can relax. We’re going to be about 18 people again! πŸ™‚

    Everybody contributes one Secret Santa present. Usually a Santa comes along to the great amusement of the children. Okay, the children love helping dear Santa to hand out the presents. Great fun for everyone! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, potato salads were both Helvi’s and my favorites. When the children were small, I used to make Raan dish which was a leg of lamb baked in a mixture of spices and yoghurt with lemon juice.
      I will be spending Christmas day in Sydney with my daughter and her two giant sons who eat enormous quantities of food.
      The presents still need to be wrapped but there’s still time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Robert Parker Says:

    Season’s greetings and best wishes for the new year. One of my wishes is to avoid mince pies of any kind but I have hopes of enjoying a chicken pot pie when I’m visiting my parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beth Alisan Says:

    Merry Christmas Gerard! I’m not from the mincemeat tradition either rather we honor our Pennsylvania Dutch heritage this time of year with sticky buns and scrapple smothered in syrup. Though I believe your herring and buttermilk is much healthier.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, but those mince pies are not made from minced meat. They are made by boiling lots of raisons and stone fruits and when the consistency of a thick jelly baked into a flour-based pastry. They are ultra-sweet.
      Yes, give me herrings any time. A merry Christmas to you dear Beth

      Liked by 2 people

  11. rangewriter Says:

    Thank you for that wish, Gerard. And may I turn that around and wish the same for you! It’s been fun getting to know you and learning a bit about your country, which though far in miles, is so near in temperament to my own country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Best wished for you and 2023.
      Keep up the good fight!

      Yes, and may I also have nice wishes for the Trump to be charged with sedition and for our own former PM. Scott Morrison to be investigated for secretly appointing himself to all the different portfolios. He became the minister for ‘everything’.

      Liked by 1 person

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