PRESENTS AND PACKAGES
Yesterday, a largish package arrived. I woke up to the insistent ring of the door-bell well before my normal nine o’ clock. When I came down bleary-eyed and crotchety, there he was. The delivery-man was more impatient than I was, so I reminded myself that he had to do a lot of this recently. I restrained myself from remarking about his lovely smile and
I weighed the carton in my hand; could it be the lap-top my son had been threatening to buy me? I hoped not. We have five or six lap-tops in this house in various stages of distress – we even have a purple one because that’s Asha’s (my screen-addicted granddaughter who is ten years, going on sixteen) colour of the month. Thank God, the parcel was light, a plastic toy, I thought.
Later my son opened it; it was a ‘computer on a stick’ for his use, not a gift. Marvel of marvels! It was the size of a large match-box with brown wrapping paper filling up the rest of the space. inside a box fit to hold a toaster. Which rain forest got the chop for this one? I wondered as I threw the paper and the carton into my garden-shed, which is groaning with a surfeit of cartons and paper. And the house is fast filling up with junk.
Paper, mind you, is a vast improvement on those bubbles that have a mind of their own. They refuse to be marshalled into sheds – they break free and float. So you end up with a tsunami of recalcitrant shapes around wherever you walk.
And then there is the Styrofoam, which crumbles and gets up my nose. I have to get rid of that before my puppy chokes on it. Another hour and I will be choking on it
I recall, with nostalgia the Christmases when my boys were toddlers and got just one toy each. We adults went without; there was no habit of buying gifts for grown-ups. Christmas didn’t cost much, and in India, before I married my Sri-Lankan husband, gifts never happened. Christmas did not cost at all.
In Kerala the big day of the year was Onam. The floor of each veranda would have a pookkalam, a design with flowers, collected by children from gardens and open ground. Onam meant new clothes for all and a big vegetarian meal. There would be payasam, rich, creamy and sugary for dessert. There were no packages to clean up after, then and now.
When I look at the land-slide of coloured parcels piled under our Christmas tree, I wonder about the children who don’t get anything at all. This year there will be more than usual due to our Chancellor and his CUTS. I feel guilty about the casual profligacy in our house-hold.
And the new hillock of paper we will deal with tomorrow. And the junk which will fill up the breathing spaces in our home.