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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
There are lots of lots of stories related to Christmas and imaginary characters who give gifts in these days. That is the reason I would like to talk about one of them. This is called the Invisible Friend.
More than a character, the Invisible Friend is a game. This game consists of gathering up some friends or relatives weeks before Christmas. The idea is to join a small group, no more than 8 or 10 people because otherwise it can become a mess.
Each person has to write his/her name on a small piece of paper and introduce it in a bag. In alphabetical order by name (or however you prefer to organize it), everybody has to get a piece of paper from the bag. Read the name and, of course, don’t tell anybody which name you’ve taken. The person you have got will be the person you have to give a present to on Christmas Eve. Normally it’s just a small token but it is up to you spend the money on what you want.
Once it’s Christmas Eve - if you celebrate this day with the same people you have organized this game with - you should leave your present under the Christmas tree with the name of the person who the present is for. If you don’t meet the same people on Christmas Eve, don’t worry, maybe you can meet with them in a pub, park, restaurant etc. It’s not necessary to give the presents on Christmas Eve, just whenever you are free on a date during your Christmas holidays.
Every person has to open his/her gift and the greatest part of the game is that nobody knows who the gift comes from.
It is said that this tradition comes from Venezuela and it has more than 100 years. It was when married or engaged women couldn’t have male friends because of what people may say (yes, it was very traditional society and very sexist), so they decided to meet with a group friends at Christmas time and swap presents.
In other cultures exist the same tradition but with a different way. For example, in the UK & USA they now call it ‘Secret Santa’ and in Colombia the tradition is to give some sweets and place them in the Christmas tree.
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty, once more, babies play ‘round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me. My wife is now dead.
I look at the future. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles. Grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, A young man still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people. Open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer .. See.. Me.
Everyone is worried about not the perfect present but nonetheless we’re still waiting until the very end to carry out last-minute Christmas shopping - when the panic is amplified much more.
Despite this, forgetting the strict material, the best gift is which come out from the heart and is expressed by the right words.
Christmas hampers can be wonderful gifts for all. Wicker baskets are packed with gourmet food and wine gifts. As they contain lots of savoury delicacies, sweet treats and luxury wines to indulge in at Christmas, food basket gifts are always well received.
The story of the Christmas hamper stretches back several centuries even though these days we may buy pre-made gourmet Christmas hampers or make our own with favourite treats.
France introduced the concept of hampers to England in the 11th century. However, these baskets of treats only became a popular gift in the Victorian era.
The invention of rail allowed food items to be sent quickly across the country to friends and family. These hampers would be filled with expensive but perishable items requiring fast delivery. For this reason hampers became a special Christmas gift.
Hampers for servants
Christmas hampers were also popular for wealthy home owners to offer their servants on Boxing Day. The baskets would be full of useful items, clothes and food, so their servants could enjoy a plentiful Christmas.
Hampers are also closely related to community, charity and philanthropy. They are filled with food, clothing, toiletries and household products as a goodwill gesture to deprived families in the community.
The basket was also a useful item around the home, while the goods were usually beneficial for a few days or weeks. Modern charitable ‘hampers’ may be made of a sturdy bag, filled with canned and packaged food.
Many hampers are still given as gifts to employees, business clients, family and friends throughout the year. Christmas hampers are popular gifts, containing delicious festive treats for the family to enjoy.
Modern Christmas hampers feature fresh fruit and bread, delectable desserts and fine wines. Hampers are a great way to bring the family together to reconnect with great food.
What goes in to a Christmas hamper?There are plenty of companies who will create luxury hampers. They will source the wicker basket and treats to make up the hamper. Some baskets have fixed items, while others allow you to add additional extras or allow you create tailor-made hampers to suit your recipient.
First, find a suitable basket to put your treats in, whether it is from a local craft store or market. Line the basket with festive fabric, and cushion it with tissue paper. Then add a variety of your recipient’s favourite festive food. Choose items that are long lasting and add a few fresh treats too.
· Christmas pudding
· Brandy butter
· Mince pies
· Assorted nuts
· Gourmet oat cakes / biscuits
· Fine jam / marmalade
· Fine crisps / crackers
· Mint chocolate creams
· Luxury chocolate
· Fine red or white wine
Whether you are making a charitable Christmas hamper for those less fortunate, offering a basket of goodies to your employees for their hard work, or as a special gift to family and friends, Christmas hampers are fondly received by all.
Find the perfect gift for friends, family and loved ones
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Discover more about how hampers how the deprived communities
One of the most enjoyable and sometimes funniest parts of the table decorations for a Christmas Meal are the Christmas crackers. Usually the jokes are really bad, the toys are even worse and everyone looks a little bit silly in their brightly coloured paper hats. Crackers encourage teamwork, a little healthy competition and conversation at the table and are used at all of the top Christmas Parties in the UK. There are lots of different colours, sizes and styles of crackers available at Christmas time, from “economy” ones with cheap plastic toys, mini crackers with no toys, giant cracker and themed crackers like Disney characters or a particular type of gift inside.
But in some cases, the dinner party host will use these traditional table decorations as a fun way to present expensive gifts to their guests. We’ve had a look for some of the world’s most expensive Christmas Crackers…from A Christmas party in Manchester to a Sydney shopping centre.
A shopping centre in Sydney, Australia holds the world record for the largest working Christmas Cracker which was 55 meters long and 3.6 meters high. The cracker was pulled on 16th December 1998.
Harrods have their Silver Bling Christmas Crackers in their collection every year. Last year the price tag was £1,100 for a box of 6. This year, a recession friendly-ish price tag of £599 is on the box, making these Swarovski crystal decorated crackers £100 each. Are they too posh to pull?
In 2010, the British establishment the Royal Mint released a very special christmas cracker containing 5 solid 22 carat gold coins. The cost of the cracker was £10,000 even though the real monetary value of the coins was just £5 each, they are worth a lot more as collectors’ items.
Traditional London Jewellers Asprey are famed for their luxury Christmas Crackers. Gifts include sterling silver pens, watches, jewellery and money clips and each cracker costs £165.
Chocolate lovers can share their favourite sweets with their friends by spending £5 each on a nicely presented Hotel Chocolat Christmas Cracker – the price includes just 3 chocolates but will be the perfect accompaniment to the after dinner coffee.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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