and MINE THE children are back at school now, holidays are over. Let us get down to Christmas shopping early. The months pass so quickly. . . It was Queen Mary, you' know, who always started shopping for Chrkstmas on January 1.
Perhaps you were making things during your summer holiday. Anyway, it is not too late to start thinking about making things now—embroidery, handwork, knitting. Or perhaps you are good with a pencil and paintbrush. The most effective Christmas cards can be made at home —and what a lot of money they save! Have you ever tried making your own Christmas cards? Even if you are not particularly talented, you can make very effective ones with the use of tracing paper and some holy pictures and a "mock" frame. Do try it.
Present problem BUT what I have principally in mind is the family's Christmas presents. Liturgically, Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year, exceeded, I suppose, only by Easter. But economically it is one of the most disastrous.
Why do we give so many presents? Why all the cards and all the food? Every year we hear someone saying they were giving it up—like Lent or somethingl And I remember my greengrocer saying that there were only two other families apart from ourselves ordering large Christmas trees. "Believe me," she said, "I think Christmas is dying out."
How can Christmas possibly die out while Christianity lives?
One each week HOW many are there in the family to whom presents must be given? Everyone—not the housewife alone —is faced with the same predicament.
Parents, sisters in law, nieces, nephews; old Auntie B, and the "daily." Everyone will expect something, even if it's only a book of stamps or a packet of razor blades.
Yes, practical presents are always acceptable to the older generation, anyway. Children don't very much like having handkerchiefs or socks as Christmas presents, but the cost of living is so high now, I don't know anybody who would resent half-adozen dusters or some coat-hangers. A packet of coloured thread is also acceptable.
Why not buy a small present each week from now on? There are 15 weeks till Christmas—and think how marvellous it would be to have done all our Christmas shopping before the Christmas holidays begin.
Decorations APART from the individual presents that have to be bought, there are, of course, the delicacies of the table to be acquired and prepared. We can't always get in earlier all the fruit we want: we are rather at the mercy of our grocers over this. But we can continue asking for it and trying to have it in good time.
Christmas pudding and cake-making could well be done in November; the earlier the better.
Then there is the turkey, the duck or the goose; or maybe a good joint to be saved up for. And the table decorations.
I hope you always harbour your decorations carefully, whether they b c streamers o r candlesticks. Arranged a little differently each year, they can go on being effective until they literally fall to pieces.
A little fresh tinsel or some "snow" can work wenders. When one has gathered up a collection of Christmas tree, table or house decorations, little money need be spent each year replacing old or broken favourites.
All set THAT is why I have proffered this 1 article so early; not because Christmas is upon us but because it is still distant. We stilt have breathing space.
Start now, and the glorious festival, when it arrives, will not overburden us. We will be ready for it and so be able to join in all the happiness of a family Christmas, bearing before our eyes the peace of the first Christmas with Mary, Joseph and the Babe, surrounded by angels, in the stable at Bethlehem.