Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat--Carolyn Wilker

Christmas is coming,
The geese are getting fat,
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you.

                                                                       -old English rhyme

Christmas is coming, really it is. The stores advertise it, albeit since Halloween. And we knew all year that it was coming. 

The mail brings flyers with ads: Buy this for your honey for Christmas. Get your personalized Christmas cards here. Buy this book for your reading pleasure.

Oh, wait, that last one was mine. I’m not immune to advertising my own wares. We authors have to advertise too, and not just at Christmas.

 The goose—or the chicken or turkey— is getting fat, so that our Christmas feast is assured, and we are urged to start preparations early so we are not overwrought by Christmas when the festivities are upon us. 

Ads urge us to get our shopping done, while the deals are good. Decorators invite us to fill our homes with pine boughs and candles, and of course, to fill our tree with beautiful ornaments, so the warm glow of Christmas will be with us all season.

I like to decorate my home too and have my favourite pieces that I put out. Our tree goes up, but not until the 10th or so of December. The cards get mailed early so our recipients will be sure to get them on time, wherever they live. In fact, the cards we receive are part of the d├ęcor. I enjoy waiting for special mail during December.

But back to the rhyme. It admonishes children to share with others. If they had a penny to give, that would do. If they had no penny, then the singer of the rhyme blesses that child. 

Where did that message come from? Was it from a teaching in the Bible, or a lesson offered up by the church, parents or grandparents? And if it came from the parents, did they demonstrate giving?

I’m thinking that the little rhyme for children applies to young and old alike. To share from what we have, whatever that may be, at whatever stage of life we may be. It could be coins in a Salvation Army kettle or a small gift. If the budget is limited, it could be a pair of mittens or two to go with a food hamper, or maybe some cans of food for the food bank. If resources are greater, a larger gift may be appropriate. 

We’re urged to share because there are people for whom Christmas is not so jolly, not overflowing with food or warm clothes for a cold Canadian winter. Some folks are very lonely as I was reminded again at a recent Kiwanis meeting where I was speaking. The Christmas dinner delivered by folks for Meals on Wheels may be the only outside contact some poor souls have that day.

Our church collects food items and takes it to the local Food Bank. We also have people coming to the church who are in need, and that goes on all year, not just at Christmas.

Our family has cut back on gift giving at Christmas. It began one year when we had a student in the family, someone laid off, and another family member buying their first home. My husband and I no longer struggle with what to buy each other. We set an amount and pick a cause. We really do have what we need.

Who penned the rhyme, Christmas is coming? Does it really matter? Pay attention to the lyrics of the songs and carols you sing this season, that is if you’re not tired of them after shopping throughout December. 

When you’ve sent out your cards, decorated your home and wrapped your gifts, remember the reason that this celebration is called Christmas—the gift of a Saviour, Jesus.

 “ you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”      -Luke 2:11, The Bible (NRSV)

Carolyn Wilker


Peter Black said...

You ignited a spark of nostalgia in me with that rhyme, Carolyn. It typically sings in my head with a sort of cockney / London area sound -- the accent intonation of my early years.
Thank you for your insightful thoughts on its meaning and seasonal application to our lives. ~~+~~

Carolyn Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter. I look forward to your viewpoint each month and will watch for your post as well.

Glynis said...

Hahaha! So funny that we wrote on the same day using the same poem. I think you are more profound than me, Carolyn! Love this and am challenged by it! Here's mine!

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