There are a number of ‘silly’ seasons throughout the year, and we are soon approaching one - the Festive Season, known by some as Christmas, and by others, as Yule, or Yuletide. It’s a time when people go bonkers - a time of mass hypnosis, when millions are compelled to buy gifts for one another. No matter how hard they try to evade the irresistible compulsion, they fail.
Willing participants of hypnosis, we can be sucked in by commercial media, subliminal images, and tempting TV advertisements that are made more compelling by the inclusion of seductive soundbites. We scratch our heads and ponder what gifts to give. It is easy to succumb, but some recipients are impossible cases. Despite being hypnotised, we can think of nothing that can be be of use to them, because they have everything. Instead, for men, we offer them socks, slippers or pyjamas, and for women, we give them vanity cases, chiffon scarfs, mascaras and Boots vouchers!
Christmas morning dawns, and children go mad. Santa Claus is quickly forgotten. They tear open parcels, create chaos, shriek with pleasure, or turn up their noses because they are discontented with what they have. Then it’s time for the adults. They feel or shake their wrapped gifts in the hope of guessing their nature. Slowly and carefully they remove the packaging to reveal the truth. When it’s not what they had hoped, they find it hard to conceal their disappointment. They flounder for words when they gaze at their ninth pair of gloves, their tenth bottle of bubblebath and their fifth packet of deodorant. They force false smiles of satisfaction, or on rare occasions beam with evident joy, because a useful gift has been given, or it is an article of real quality matching their taste.
Last Christmas I held a wrapped gift, the nature of which I tried to ascertain by feeling and gently shaking it. I correctly deduced that whatever it was, was contained within a small cardboard box. Firstly, I removed the wrapping paper, then I opened the lid. Inside there was a bone china mug that had been manufactured for Nauticalia of London. Made for a right-handed person, it had to the left of the handle, a sepia coloured transfer portraying a dinghy being sailed at sunset. Above this symbolic image representing the end of the day, (and perhaps the end of life) were the words, Good Sailors never grow old, and below it, they just get a little dinghy.
The more I pondered these words, it dawned on me, they contained a mischievous pun. Instead of reading, ‘they just get a little dinghy’, the last word became ‘dingy’, which according to the Oxford dictionary means ‘gloomy and drab’. There could be a truism in it. Therefore, every time I drink from the mug, I am reminded that I should smile, and thank God for what His Son has done for me. Though I shall die, I shall never grow old - despite the fact that I have a dinghy!