I am convinced there is a third or maybe fourth thread running through this time of year. The first is the birth of Christ which, for better or worse, has receded in terms of importance for most people. The second is the bacchanal of spending - the fear that you have spent too much or not enough or that the toys or pants will not suit the child or will be mocked in the playground. To my mine there is a cure for the first: get some religion of not. Either you will take to the story or you will not but make the call. For the second, all I can say is get some spine. We buy less for the kids than others but it has always been so. There is a small theme of austerity in all the largess in a Scots family Christmas, the time of excess coming later at Hogmanay just after New Years Eve has passed. The third may be the sadness and badness that happens at times like this of social pressure - if the wheels are going to come off, you can bet this is when it will come to pass. What can be done for that?
After all these, however, there is Yule. The winterfest. The longest night. Yesterday marching the seven year old through downtown shops with a list, past the new outdoor skating rinks, a Victorian choir singing carols and even a trumpeter on Princess Street, me handing her loonies to put in those outstretched hands and also treats for her own, it was about the merry - the merriness of a shared holiday. Summer holidays are the slackest time, when laying down in public space is an activity to be planned. But Yule is collective as, even if you are not gifting or not remembering, you are at half speed except in retail. My family was in retail and fifteen years ago this day I would be pushing the poinsettias, flogging packets of holly but even at that all minds on the back side of the counter were aiming towards the days of nothing when naps and sherry sips and, yes, one more small sideplate of that would be nice. All a big reward for something or other never needing being quite defined.