Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Traditionally speaking!

The French have quite a tradition of protesting. And of having their protests met with water cannons and tear gas.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, once a rebel, now a friend and advisor to President Macron said this about the stuff going on with the “gilets jaunes” in France:

“This movement is very different to May ‘68. Back then, we wanted to get rid of a general (Charles de Gaulle); today these people want to put a general in power.” He points put another important difference: “And nobody in ‘68 made death threats against those who want to talk. All those on left thinking this is a leftwing revolution are wrong: it’s veering to the right. To hear the gilets jaunes who want to negotiate are receiving death threats is evidence of this authoritarian right.”

That may well be true but death threats seem to be common parlance on social media when someone disagrees with the ideas and politics of someone else. In general people seem more willing to offer violence than ever they used to.

But now Monsieur Macron is making moves to raise the minimum wage, which might help calm things down.

Over here on our side of the Channel, where discussion of Brexit has been going on so long it has almost become a tradition, Mrs May has postponed the Brexit vote in Parliament. Quite what that will achieve remains to be seen. One thing it means is that we will have the thing hanging over our heads until mid January, all over the festive season. The ghost of Christmas Present will be with us for all that time!

And so in the Italian class this afternoon, last of the term, we decided not to speak about it. Well, once the two lawyers on the class had expressed their views at some length, we decided not to talk about it any more.

Instead we talked about the origins of Christmas traditions. Here are a couple:-

In Bethlehem there was a very poor street artist who could not afford a present for Baby Jesus. So he juggled for the baby and made him laugh. And that’s why we hang shiny round baubles on our Christmas tree.

Another tells of a poor little shepherd boy who made a crown out of laurel leaves for Baby Jesus. But when he got to the stable he decided his crown was a miserable item and put it down and began to cry. The newborn Baby Jesus reached out and touched it, changing the dull leaves into shiny holly leaves and the little shepherd boy’s tears into red berries. Ahh!!! So that’s why we have holly!

It strikes me that this legendary baby can do some amazing things fpr a newborn: smiling, reaching out. Whatever next!

I have been going round with cards to hand out to friends we have planned to meet. When I did this on Saturday, some people said they had not started yet. One said she had decided not to send cards this year, nor to send greetings via social media. Clearly turning into a grumpy old person! Another told us his card was in the post: not so much a card as a group photo of all his family.

He explained that his parents had begun this tradition when they were just a couple. As children were born they just added each child as they came onto the scene. Gradually there was a whole host of them. He and his wife have followed suit and now one of his daughters is doing the same.

Presumably this is in case people forget what they all look like!

His “card” arrived, now with half a dozen people in the photo.

It did occur to me that we could make an art piece out of all the photos we have collected over the years: family through the ages! Maybe that could start yet another tradition.

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