Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Boxes

I never usually see our Postman. Letters just arrive in the postbox. (Well, not actual letters, but you know what I mean. Crate-loads of junk mail; various bills from doctors and eye specialists; and the occasional request from a charity organisation; telephone bills and electricity accounts - that kind of stuff.) So I was quite surprised when the Postman - or someone I assumed was the Postman, pressed the intercom and stood there fumbling with a particular piece of junk mail he seemed to want to deliver personally, into my hands.

At exactly the same time, the children's school transport arrived. I had to open the gate for them to enter. The postman entered with them - I was doomed.

Christmas Box collecting starts early in Cairp Tahn. What is a Christmas Box, you ask?(lucky you to be asking such a thing!) It is anyone who has ever done anything with you, or for you, or near you - coming to your door and basically demanding a Christmas present. You may never have seen the person before in your life. Their connection with you may be utterly and extremely vague - but somehow, they feel entitled from early in December(I mean I was asked for the first one yesterday - the 8th!)to get "Christmas Boxes".

Now, what does one do? Do you say no. Do you say, look, you work for the Council or for the garden service, or the post office and you get paid for that. Why should I be giving you a Christmas Box? Or do you pretend you have left the City for the month of December? Do you hide? Do you throw water at them? Or do you meekly hand over the dosh and get it over with.

In my case, I hand over the dosh. It is just a whole lot simpler that way. I admit to being a bit irritable about it. I confess to finding it doubly irritating that my black middle-class colleague at work has never even heard of the practise - "because 'they' know 'we' (black people) won't do that" (sic!, she explained.

But I do it all the same. It is part of our programming as white people in South Africa. We did it all through Apartheid. There is no reason to stop it now. And it is the season to be merry (albeit somewhat early!. And I certainly earn more than "they" do (even though I probably have more debt than "they" do as well!)Have done the Postman. Have done the garden service. Waiting for the waste collection people, the meter-readers, the passers-by of one sort or another. They will come. Believe me, they will come.

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