'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

On Christmas

Oldest son, aged about three:

"What is the nex' big thing coming up Mummy?"

Me: "Christmas, love."

Son: "What do we do at Crissmiss?"

Me: "We give people presents because it reminds us that people gave the baby Jesus presents when he was born"

Son: "And...?"

"We have a big holiday because it's summer and we can go to the beach and camp and swim every day."

"Anything else?"

"We get a conifer tree and decorate it, because we copy England and Christmas is in winter there and the all the leaves are off the other trees.  Conifers smell nice and look bright and green".


"We get holly and bring that inside too, and hang pieces up around the house, and put a sprig on top of the Christmas pudding."


"Um, because holly has bright red berries in winter and the red and green look nice together."

Pause. Then, very adamantly: "No.  That's not why."  

"It isn't?"

"No, it's because it 'members us that it's a holly - day."


  1. Thank God he didn't ask where babies come from or what the hell is an immacualte conception?

  2. Isn't "Thank God" the answer to the the second? :-)

  3. katherine, the christmas tree was copied by us from the krauts, where it comes probably from their tree-based nordic/germanic mythology of Yggdrasil, (and where in fact early christmas trees made the church a little nervous, being a bit pagan and everything) the world tree that reached all the way to heaven, the mythological representation of life, the oneness of the world and the regenerative power of nature, and that your son needs to know that basically you do in fact have a six foot phallic symbol in the middle of your living room. If you want me to explain it to him I'd be more than happy. It is quite interesting though, the point you make there, that it's a symbol from another place and culture that even to your young son seems incongruous where you are. Listen to me, who do I think I am, melvyn f**g bragg? I'll stick to one line snide comments in future, I promise

  4. Don't you dare restrict yourself to one-liners Arthur - I enjoyed your information very much. It probably wasn't appropriate at the time to go into too much detail, but I'll pass your comments on to him now that he is 24 and I'm sure he will appreciate them. In fact he is probably reading them at this moment.
    We (kids and I) are well aware of the intentional meshing of the old pagan with the Christian as a means of getting the latter to 'take' as it were. Ain't life fassinatin'?