Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear what a nice day

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear come out to play.

See the clouds so soft in the sky

And the bright wings of a butterfly.

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear jump, skip, hop;

Come with me, let’s go to the shop.

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear what will you choose –

Your football boots or your new black shoes?

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear fly your kite

See the stars shine bright at night.

Time for some exercise; let’s go for a run…

Let’s play in the garden, now won’t that be fun?

Mocked with a Crown: The Third Sorrowful Mystery

BY TANJA CILIA

ChristKing

A claim to Kingship. How best to quash it?

…and they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’  And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head…

Jesus, Son of God, was led to the praetorium and mocked by the very people whose sins he bore, offended and ridiculed by those who genuflect in jest, divesting Him of his dignity as well as his clothes, and giving Him a reed for a sceptre.  Then, the cowardly Pilate presents Him to the baying crowd.

Ecce Homo – Behold the Man!

…words that unwittingly echo the ones said by the Father: This is my Son, whom I love; with Him, I am well pleased.

We bristle when someone looks at us the wrong way. We bridle when someone does not give us the honours due to us. The Son of God bore the ignominies for us silently, without complaint. The savage beating was not enough to satiate the cruel nature of the tormentors.

Pilate’s henchmen could have wondered why this Jew – probably the reputation of Jesus as a miracle-worker has reached them too – had been sent to them for judgement by His own people.

Where are this poor man’s cronies? Where are His followers?  Why does he not protest, complain, or explain?

They believed that by demeaning Jesus, they would become greater than He; just as the bullies of today think that by humiliating, embarrassing or ridiculing someone else, they will satisfy their base natures.

Therefore, they dress Him in a robe dyed with Tyrian purple… a mockery of his status as King.

every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

And yet, they slap Him and garble words of tribute that are actually insults.

Shall I crucify your King?

JesusMockedThornyCrown

The story repeats itself. It is once again we, the people of Jesus, who seek to scorn him, by breaking the Commandments and cutting-and-pasting which bits of His teachings suit us best.  We are too lazy to bother going to Mass except on Sundays – and even then, some of us assume that it is all right to attend the celebration on a Saturday evening, just so that we can sleep-in before a day of lazy bliss, and not because there is an event that requires our presence, or because we are shift workers.

My kingdom is not of this world.

Pilate asks Him, “Are You a king?”, and Jesus replies that His kingdom is not of this world. The mob screams. Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

Ironically, Pilate proclaims that Jesus is King four times. “…you have a custom that I should release one man to you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews…?”;   “Behold, your King!”“Shall I crucify your King?”; and finally, in the inscription “The King of the Jews”.

When you mock someone, you are trying to make him feel worthless by undermining his dignity.  Mockery attacks the soul and the mind.  We see this happen again and again at the workplace, in the classroom, in ward, in slavery… and even within the walls of the home, where the members of the households are supposed to be safe from all hurt.

It is definitely not enough to “not mock” others. We must actively nurture them and protect them from being belittled by others.

Chanukah

November 28, 2009

Beginning with the 25th day of Kislev, the eight Days of Chanukah are observed. This feast is different from others, in that fasting is not permitted.

Judaism recalls the time when the Seleucid Greeks profaned the Sanctuary, after capturing the Temple. They sacrificed pigs to Zeus on the holy altar, and defiled all the Holy Oils. After three fierce years of battles, the Maccabees’ army led by “Judas the Hammer” liberated Jerusalem. The Temple was searched for untarnished Oil for the re-dedication of the altar.

However, only enough Oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest) for one day was found – and this, through a miracle, lasted for eight days until new Oil could be blessed. The celebration marked the third anniversary of the original desecration of the Temple by the Greeks.

The following year, the Rabbis nominated the days as Yomim Tovim (Holidays), and decreed that the Miracle of the Light must be remembered. This is a time when, if possible, finer meals than usual are served, with cheeses featuring well in them, as well as fried foods such as latkes (potato and onion patties) and doughnuts.

The latkes and other friend foods are in memory of the Miracle of the Oil. Jewish people also recall the story of Judith, who served goats’ cheese to Holofernes as part of her clever plan to bring about his downfall.

Chanukah is also different from other feasts because usually, women do not work (sewing, laundry, etc) for at least half an hour after the candles are lit – yet during this feast, they may cook. On the Friday evening, one lights the Chanukah lights before the usual Shabbat candles.

Most people associate the Menorah (Candelabrum) with Chanukah; most Jews light one olive oil cup with a cotton wick, or a candle, on the first night (the extra “Shames” or “server” candle is used to kindle the others); two on the second, and so on. It is customary to set up the candles from right to left, but the candles are lit from left to right. This 8-branched Menorah differs from the 6-branched one used in the Tabernacle and Temple.

The light derived from the candles is not to be used for anything other than the Glory of God – and that is the practical reason for having the Samesh Candle a little way apart. For Chanukah, it is not strictly necessary to use a Menorah – one may place a row of candles, in a straight line, upon a wall. Any fancy version of a menorah, the candles of which are not in a straight line, is not suitable for Chanukah. The candles must be far enough apart such that their flames do not intermingle.

One cannot fulfil the Chanukah obligation using electric lights, or by simply taking part in a communal Chanukah party, without having conducted the ceremony at home beforehand. The Menorah must be situated as close as possible to the doorway of the home, such that they may be seen from a distance by a number of people, who will then recall the Miracle.

Tieġijiet, Funerali, u Magħmudijiet…

Leħen is-Sewwa, July 5, 2014

Ir-Reliġjon… kultant qisha ċewing gum, kultant qisha plastic, kultant qisha xemgħa, u kultant qisha ġebla taż-żonqor.

Mela, ix-xahar l-ieħor stħajjiltni li qed nieħu sehem f’xi film bħal Four Weddings and a Funeral, għax ma nafx kemm-il funeral, tieġ, u magħmudija attendejt.

Kif jiġri, f’xi uħud minnhom iltqajt mal-istess nies, u għaldaqstant stajna nkomplu xi konverżazzjonijiet li konna nkunu bdejna fl-okkażżjoni ta’ qabel (meta noħorġu mill-knisja).

L-iżjed argument li nteressawni kienu kif aħna kapaċi ndawru kull ħaga f’diskursata mimilja politika, reliġjon, u seksik… u ma ngħidilkomx kemm ħadna gost, jien u xi erbgħa minn sħabi (li aħjar ma nsemmihomx għax intappnilhom ir-reputazzjoni), nirreċtaw biex nuru kemm dan huwa tabilħaqq minnu.

Xi ħadd gidem lil xi ħadd ieħor? Dak għax mhux Nisrani. Xi ħadd razzist? Dak mhux Nisrani, anqas. Xi ħadd jidgħi? Mela l-Insara jidgħu, x’kull waħda?

Hawn min għall kull sitwazzjoni tal-ħajja li tinqala’, kapaċi jikkwotalek silta, jekk mhux paragrafu, mill-Bibbja. Allura dan, Nisrani?

Aħna suppost li nkunu l-melħ tal-art. Allura min ma jħallihiex ħelwa għall melħa, allura dak Nisrani? U min flok imnara fuq xkaffa ikun qisu lejl bla stilel, għax dejjem jirrifletti d-dlam – allura dan, mhux Nisrani?

Għandna ħafna distrazzjonijiet. U tentazzjonijiet. U azzjonijiet ta’ ħaddieħor li, apposta jew le, iservu biex itelfuna l-paċi tal-ħajja. L-aħbarijiet mimlijin dwejjaq u ġlied – u li tkun Nisrani hija l-unika ħaġa kostanti, bħall-imluħa tal-melħ, fil-ħajja tagħna.

Fħax f’dinja tal-biża, fejn l-immoralita u l- promiskwità, it-tbatija, l-inġustizzji, u mitt ħaġ’oħra jiġġieldu għall-attenzjoni tagħna, mhux ħaġa faċli li temmen li Alla jaf b’kull werqa li taqa’. U dik hi n-nassa li ma rridux naqgħu fiha.

Wara l-ewwel kafe, id-diskursati x’aktarx li daru fuq kif jew xejn m’hu xejn, jew kollox hu dnub – dejjem skond ma’ min tkun qed titkellem. U billi tkun skrupluż, tkun Nisrani iżjed minn ħaddieħor? Jew ma tkunx tista’ tgawdi l-ġid kollu li tak il-Mulej ħanin għax dejjem tkun moħħok li stajt offendejtU b’xi ħarsa mhux xierqa, jew b’xi kelma żejda?

Li tkun bilanċjat, tkun qiegħed eżatt fin-nofs bejn li tkun laxk u li tkun skrupluz? Li tkun moħħok hemm ifisser li la tħalli lid-dubji, u anqas l-iskandli, jaffettwawk… jew li tintilef warajhom?

Fil-funerali, kien hemm uħud li ħasbu li jekk tilbes l-iswed, l-abjad, jew il-griż biss tkun qed turi rispett lejn il-memorja tal-mejjet. Anqas biss taw każ li l-ħwejjeġ ta’ sitta minnhom ma kienux ikunu biżżejjed biex jgħattu tubru.

Fit-tiġijiet, kien hemm min assuma li biex ma tħissx sħana, forsi biex tkun “pulita”, i.e. liebsa tal-okkażżjoni, kien jinħtieġ li tqaċċat u tikxef.

Fil-magħmudijiet, kien hemm min dehrlu li mhux it-trabi biss għandu jkollhom l-attenzjoni tal-kongregazzjoni.

Fejn hu l-għaqal tad-diskrezzjoni? Ikolli ngħid li dan ikun, kultant, ferm iżjed meħtieġ mill-kapaċita li nikkwotaw verbatim ­l-aħħar ħames enċikliki.

L-għaqal ma jinstabx biss f’li tkun skrupluża, u li tgħid li l-Kappillan imissu almenu jagħmel Quddiesa waħda fix-xahar bil-Latin (fejn in-nisa, jekk iridu, jkunu jistghu jilbsu l-velu).

Ikolli ngħid li dawn il-mistoqsijiet għaqlin huma meħtieġa llum: Ser jinqaleb il-mansab jekk ma jkunx hemm x’jinqabad? Forsi tnejn min-nies se jimxu flimkien jekk ma jiftehmux?

Biex it-Tempju Jkun Maqdes

Fittxu dejjem is-saltna t’Alla…

Kont qed infittex rigal ċkejken għal ħabiba tiegħi li għadha kif dahlet l-isptar. Fil-ħanut daħlu zewġ żgħażagħ, u dawn bdew jiddiskutu l-għamla u l-kuluri tal-ġiżirani.

“Ara, din il-ħannieqa midmuma fuq il-lastiku… naħseb anki biex iżżommxagħrek tajba..” qalilha hu. “Iva, kos, sewwa qed tgħid.” Hi daret fuq sidt il-ħanut. “Nista’ nippruvaha?”  “Iva, mela…” qaltilha din. U t-tfajla libsitha, u l-guvni tagħha ħares lejha, u tbissem. “Tixraqlek!” qalilha. “Tridx mera?” staqsiet tal-ħanut. “Le, m’hemmx għalfejn. Hu (u writ lilu) il-mera tiegħi…” u xtrawha, u telqu l-barra… u jien  kont għandni rrid niddeċiedi  bejn ix-xalla l-kaħla u l-ingwanti ta’ bla swaba’.

Alla jgħidilna, “Jiena l-Mulej Alla tiegħek, li ħriġtek mill-jasar, mill-art tal-Eġittu. M’għandu jkollok ebda’ allat oħra ħlief lili.”

Il-Kmandamenti jridu jkunu l-mera li fiha naraw ir-riflessjoni tal-ħajja tagħna.  Is-sinteżi tagħhom hi li aħna  għanda nħobbu lill-Mulej Alla tagħna b’qalbna kollha, b’ruħna kollha, u bil-qawwa tagħna kollha.

Il-bniedem għandu ħabta jibni tempji ‘l hawn u ‘l hinn – tempji li mhux qegħdin hemm biex jonoraw lil Alla, iżda lill-flus, lil-ġmiel, lil-ġid ta’ din id-dinja, lil-pjaċiri tal-ġisem.  Iżda tagħna eżempju ħaj ta’ kif inqiegħdu lil Alla l-ewwel u qabel kollox… mhux biss bħala prodott wiehed millmijiet tal-eluf li jisntabu fit-tempju msejjaħ Supermarket.

Saħansitra wara sawma ta’ 40 ġurnata, flok ma trejjaq, qal lix-xitan li mhux bil-ħobż  biss, iżda b’kull kelma li toħroġ minn fomm Alla.

Hija ħaġa minn awl id-dinja li dawk li kif jgħid il-Papa Franisku, għandhom il-kuxjenza illuppjata għax jaraw kollox flus, iqisu  lil dawk li m’għandhom xejn,  bħala piż… jisew biss daqs erba’ kelmiet fil-headlines tal-gażżetti.  Dawn għandhom mnejn ma jeżistux fir-riflessjoni li naraw tagħha nfusna fil-mera tal-Kmandamenti… mera li hi kbira daqs il-ħajt tat-tempju personali tagħna.

Jekk il-prijorità tagħna tkun li nfittxu l-ewwel is-Saltna t’Alla, melaa nilmħu lil dawk li għandhom bżonna fix-xbiha li naraw meta nħarsu lejn il-mera… u ma jkollniex għalfejn nisimgħu  il-ħoss tat-tromba, u nħossu l-muntanja titriegħed, u naraw xi sħaba tiċċaqlaq.

Il-ħajja tagħna msawra fuq dak li nħossu f’qalbna, dak li ngħidu, u kif inġibu ruħna. Mhux faċli li kull waqt, kull ħin, u kull mument, inkunu ċittadini perfetti – iżda mhux daqshekk impossibbli li  niftakru li kull persuna li niltqgħu magħha hija xbiha t’Alla… li jesiġi li nħobbu lil għajrna bħal ma ħabbna Hu, u bħal ma nħobbu lilna nfusna.  

Kemm hu sew li nagħtu kinsa sew lit-tempju tagħna, u narmu dak kollu li ma jħallihx jibqa’ maqdes, kif suppost; li nwarrbu miċ-ċirku tagħna lil dawk li joqtlu l-ġisem, u li nibżgħu minnhom, għax jippruvaw, qabel,  joqtlu lir-ruħ.

Minn taħt il-għajn, fil-mera tal-Kmandamenti  kultant naraw itir għasfur tal-bejt, li jiswa’ ftit, imma Alla jaf bih… u naraw werqa’ taqa’, li wkoll dik, Alla jaf biha.

U żgur li ta’ kuljum insibu ma’ wiċċna tentazzjonijiet li jħamġulna t-tempju li nkunu għadna kif knisna… ostakli li jħajruna li nżejnu t-tempju tagħna bħal wieħed iddedikat lil xi alla falaz ta’ xi reliġjon pagana.  Id-dinja tħeġġinġna biex inkunu egosti, u ngawdu illum, għax għada ma jasalx.

Iżda jekk inżommu t-tempju miknus u l-mera llustrata ċara, naraw kollox  mill-perspettiva li Alla ħejja għalina.

The Maltese Ħobża

Anyone who thinks that nectar, ambrosia, and manna are the foods of the gods is way off the mark.

Nothing beats a ġenba torn off the side of a warm ħobża before one even leaves the bakery premises. This explains the trail of crumbs from the counter (or a plank resting on two soft drinks cases) and the door. In my day, when the bread was too hot to handle, Tal-Ħobża always had a supply of bits of cardboard torn off the mound of collapsed boxes collected expressly for this purpose. And the aroma inside the bakery would cling to the clothes.

It is a Semitic tradition to break bread with someone as a sign of welcome, and friendship. And no wonder. Our bread is nothing like the anaemic, oblong, spongy loaves bought for convenience rather than taste and texture. Indeed, Maltese bread is the best thing since before sliced bread.

How could you honestly hope to mop up the gooey garlicky mess at the bottom of the fenek fry-pan? Could you use anything else but tal-Malti to slather with butter and eat with ġbejniet tal-bżar? Would any other type of bread taste as good, spread with kunserva, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled liberally with freshly-crushed black pepper and Mediterranean sea-salt?

Incidentally, if you can get an unbaked loaf of bread from the baker, you will find that it makes the ideal pizza.

The friable crust and soft crumb (this is the bieba as opposed to crumbs, which are the frak) make for an ideal marriage of textures and tastes… with one proviso: contrary to the sanitised breads that keep relatively fresh for up to three days, Maltese bread is best eaten on the day it is baked. And anyone who has bought sliced Maltese bread, packaged inside a knotted plastic bag, knows that this is not the way to eat it, either.

Most areas are blessed with twice-daily bread deliveries, mostly from the Maltese equivalent of Bethlehem (“the house of bread”) – Qormi, which was also known as Casal Forno. This enables us to purchase ħobż that are never more than half a day old (it takes eight hours in total to produce a loaf of bread). You may, of course, opt for the unleavened ftira – especially if you are off to the beach, as this holds my preferred filling – tomatoes or tomato paste, capers and olives, anchovies and onion rings – so much better.

Unless you intend to make speciality breads, the above means that buying a bread-making machine would probably be a waste of money. Bakers always leave a clump of dough from the day before, in order to start off the fermentation of the next day; machines always stipulate yeast as an ingredient – and the taste is never quite the same.

Bakers will tell you that the end result depends upon many variables – the type of flour, and water used, the proportion of the ingredients, the temperature at which it is cooked, as well as the type of oven. The dictum goes that the bigger the hole, the better the quality.

The dough is always different depending on the quantities of ingredients, the type of water used, the type of flour, the temperature to which it is subjected and so on.

As in the case of puddings and pies, however, each household has its own ‘recipe’ for what goes inside a ħobż biż-żejt… tinned tuna, pickles, garlic, marinated vegetables, leeks, thinly-sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, capsicums…

Maltese bread, soaked in a mixture of milk and water, and squeezed out, forms the basis for pudina. To this, you add whatever you have in your larder in the way of vine fruit, dried and candied fruits, cocoa, and rum (or anisette or brandy or vermouth). Some people add sugar, desiccated coconut, butter, and an egg or two.

The mixture is placed in a buttered, floured dish and cooked at a low heat until it forms a crust, and a knife stuck into it comes out clean.

Whichever way you decide to use it, small wonder that the smell, texture and sheer debauchery of the Maltese hobza, over any other local food offering, is what breaks the heart of all émigrés every time.

Minute Minutes

I focus on my blessings
With an attitude of gratitude.
Content I have food to share;
Grateful my friend called me;
Happy to have a roof over my head, even though it leaks.
For I am alive.
I am secure in the knowledge
That I love, and that I am loved.
And that I have the gift of understanding, and the knack of empathy.
I am grateful. I am blessed.

Perfett, Eżatt u Preċiż

Domt kważi sagħtejn infittex par ingwanti tas-suf.l Ridthom kbar u bojod, sempliċi u bla tiżjin. Ħassejtni qisni qed infittex id-duwa tal-Maddalena. Tal-ħwienet kellhom tal-ġilda, tal-ħarir, tad-drapp, roża, suwed, bil-fjuri, bl-antaċċjoli u tal-bizzilla. “Ara dawn! Dawn sbieħ ukoll, Sinjura…il-Ħajta ħoxna u l-bizzilla folta hafna, kważi kważi perfetti kif tridhom int…”

Imma ma kienux – għax jien ridthom tas-suf, kbar, u bojod, sempliċi u bla tiżjin.

F’wieħed mill-ħwienet li żort, in-naħa ta’ ġewwa, kien hemm tfajla tillima difrejha. “Idħol”, għajtitli, b’ħanġra daqshiex.

Plaqq! Ħoss kważi ta’ terrimot. Ħarist warajja biex nara kienx hemm xi trakk li tela’ fuq xi tappiera u sfrondha. “Għedtlek idħol!” reġgħet werżqet. Plaqq oħra. It-tfajla ġiet tiġri għax indunat li ma kenitx tellgħet ix-shutter biżżejjed, u l-kienet qed tieħu skoss mal-bieba tal-ħġieġ kull darba li tasal kważi eżatt fuqnett.  

Cyntha ħxienet. Billi n-neputija stednitha biex tkunilha xhud fit-tieġ, qalet bejnha u bejn ruħha li aħjar tixtri libsa ġdida, biex toħrġ ta’ nies. Mela, għogbitha waħda pistaċċa; imma ż-żipp ta’ wara ma kienx jitla’ sa fuq. Jasal sar-rombli, u jeħel, bħax-shutter tal-ħanut.

“Tibżax,” qaltilha sidt il-ħanut. “Hekk jew hekk, ikollok il-ġakketta, u biha tgħatti kollox, u tkun tidher perfetta.” “U mela, żgur; l-iżjed meta nkun dari lejn il-bqija tal-kongregazzjoni, fl-ewwel bankijiet tal-knisja. Ħallini minnek, tridx.” Libset u telqet ‘il hinn.

Pauline rat ġakketta fl-armatura tal-ħanut. Daħlet biex tippruvaha, iżda l-kmiem ġewha qsar. Il-ġuvni li kien qed jaqdiha taha sew x’tifhem li kien ħa biċċa xogħol papali biex neħħieha minn fuq il-figorn u li jekk tħalli l-buttuna tal-pulzier miftuħa, mela allura, il-kmiem jiġu twal biżżejjed, preċiz mal-polz.

Kathleen tefgħet post fuq facebook. Staqsiet minn fejn tixtri hoover. Xi erbgħa ħelwin qabżu fuqha, u qalulha li jekk riedet vacuum cleaner, mhux bilfors kellha tkun Hoover, u jekk riedet propja Hoover, kellha tiktibha b’ittra majuskola, biex il-kliem ikun eżatt.

Tant intqal kliem vojt, li fl-aħħar Kathleen spiċċat biex neħħiet il-post. Ma qalitx jekk xtratx vacuum cleaner ta’ ditta oħra, jew Hoover.

Janice iddubbat ir-riċetta tal-mili tal-qassatat mingħand il-kunjata. Billi ma tħobbx il-kappar, ma użatux. Minflok, mat-taħlita, tefgħet ftit kapunata, u ovvjament it-togħma ma kienetx eżatt bħal tal-oriġinali. Kull min b’kumbinazzjoni daqhom it-tnejn qal li ta’ Janice ferm itjeb minn ta’ omm żewġha; u kien hemm min qal li kienu perfetti.  

Josephine u sħabha marru Tas-Sliema. F’daqqa waħda waqqfithom ħesrem u ssuġġeriet li jmorru jieħdu kafé. “Inħallas jien!” qalet. Hi qagħdet bilqegħda darha lejn il-ħajt. Meta kulħadd kien mehdi jmaxtar il-pastizzi u jsefsef fil-kafé, qamet, daret, u ddrittat l-inkwadru li kien hemm warahja, li kienet ratu mxattar minn barra l-ħanut. Ġietha għalja, imma kienet kuntenta u sodisfatta, għax issa kien preċiż invell.

Kollha kemm aħna nagħtu tifsiriet differenti l-kliem perfett, eżatt u preċiż. Aħna l-puntiljużi nsostnu li dan il-kliem ma jfissirx l-istess. Il-mili tal-qassatat, għal uħud, kien perfett iżda ma kienx eżatt bħal tal-kunjata. Il-libsa li rat Cynthia kienet tkun eżatta, skont tal-ħanut. Imma ma kienetx… U l-kmiem tal-ġakketta li xtaqet Pauline kienu jaslu preċiż sal-pulzier… kieku ħalliet il-komma miftuħa.

Il-verità hi kwalità assoluta, iżda l-prinċipji bażiċi nnitfuhom jew nirrakmawhom biex isostnu l-fehmiet tagħna, u juru li aħna dejjem għandna raġun. Imma l-obbligi morali tagħna ma nistgħux nilagħbu bihom qishom biċċa plasticine li ngħaġnuna kif irridu. Għalxejn ingiddmu minnha minn hawn u minn hemm biex inġibuha taqbel ma’ dak li għandna f’moħħna.

Il-verità hi perfetta, eżatta u preċiża.

Santa’s Blog 6

Friday, December 11, 2009, 10:27

She caught me practicing in front of the mirror. I am going to be the star turn at… (Ah! that would be an unpaid advertisement…). But the Missus says that my career as a stand-up comic is over before it’s begun.
I don’t agree. These’ll sleigh them for sure and all:
What do reindeer have that no other animals have? Baby reindeer. What do the reindeer sing to Father Christmas? Freeze a jolly good fellow. What does Santa get at Christmas? Santapplause. Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas? Santa Jaws! Why does Father Christmas have three gardens? So he can ho ho ho. How do you make a slow reindeer fast? Don’t feed it. What do they call Santa Claus in Australia? Sandy Claus. Why did Rudolph wear sunglasses at the beach? He didn’t want to be recognised. Why do reindeer have fur coats? Because they would look silly in Macintoshes. What do you call a reformed burglar? Saint Nick.

She said I sound silly. Well, frankly I would rather sound silly than look it. Not that I mean anything by that, of course, but, for example, let us imagine someone who likes to cook, well, stuff.

Today, this person who shall not be named decided that breakfast for us would be something called supoesi. It sounds like some kind of exotic soup, the word does, and that is exactly what it is supposed to be. A hot soup that is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Samoa, made from coconut cream and pawpaw (did I tell you that They sent us a box of tins of coconut cream that are nearing their expiry date?).

Instead of cereal, this morning we had fausi – traditionally it’s made from dasheen, but tell me where we are getting it at this time of the year. So she made it from pumpkin… and, you guessed it, served it with a caramelised coconut cream sauce. You lick your fingers after you eat it not because it’s good, but because it’s sweet and sticky. This is one experiment I did not like.

Nothing silly about cooking Samoan food, you might say. Oh no. But imagine wearing a lava-lava in winter. To get into the spirit, she says. I would have thought we ought to be getting into the Christmas Spirit, actually, not be South Sea spectres. Think pareo. Think sarong. Think gooseflesh.

At this point, I recalled the Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner? of The Simpsons – the one where Homer is a restaurant critic with Lisa as his ghost-writer. The French chef concocts an éclair dripping with chocolate so dark that light cannot escape. It has over one million calories, 25 pounds of butter per square inch… and a dash of poison. The dénouement is that he didn’t eat it after all because someone told him it was low-fat.
I guess I must thank my lucky stars that she didn’t go the whole hog – or rather, the less delectable portions of the sea slug. The drink, called Sea for some obscure reason, is made from the innards of this creature. If push came to shove, I’d rather have Kava, made from the ground roots of pepper plants… with a mild tranquilising effect.

My Shadow

Prompt: Which Poem Would You Ban from the School Syllabus?

Tanja Cilia

http://www.bartleby.com/188/119.html

One poem I would most certainly ban because it will have a lethal effect on young impressionable minds is “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson.


It is clear that this poem will unhinge the minds of children, because it will make them as obsessed with their shadow as the poet appears to be, and they will not be able to walk straight along the road if, as in the Irish Blessing, their shadow falls behind them, because they will be forever turning around to check whether it is still there.


They will also do naughty things like throw stones at windows and climb walls, to see if their shadow follows suit.
Indeed the poet knows that the fixation with his shadow has taken over his life and challenged his mental stability. He insists that he can see the shadow jump into his bed before him. Now we all know that this is ridiculous because there is no shadow that would willingly go to bed at night when it can have so much more additional fun, accompanying the Sandman out on his Darkness Rounds.


The poet says his shadow is alive – what nonsense! He says it grows longer and shorter as he feels like. It is clear that the poet was sleeping during his geography, physics, biology and chemistry lessons, because he would have known that an shadow is only the product of one’s imagination and as such will only grow fatter and thinner and longer and shorter and wider and narrower and bigger and smaller according to how much the imagination feeds it and I have run out of breath so I will stop here.


He does not realise, by the way, that the shadow sticks close to him because it is his, and no one else wants it.