It's December and you may already be in the mood for Christmas.
Some of my friends have already had a head start by putting up their tree in October, for practical reasons. One was going to be travelling so she would not have the time to put it up later, while another wanted her kids to be able to enjoy the pretty sight a little longer.
In recent years, I’ve been tempted not to go through the hassle of putting up a tree at all, but I haven’t been brave enough as it feels like I’m breaking tradition and disappointing the kids. I’m probably the biggest kid of all. The tree along with all the other Christmas paraphernalia cast a certain magic during the Yuletide season, and it somehow makes everything seem brighter and cheerier, and more bearable.
The Christmas ads are also making the rounds, and one that has gone viral particularly early isn’t the inspirational John Lewis ad or the Heathrow tear-jerker short story, but a surprising environmental message about the orangutan losing its natural habitat.
An ad produced by Iceland talks about deforestation by palm oil growers, and states that it would be removing palm oil from product labels. It's ironic that a land of ice and snow should address this, but actually, the ad is by the British supermarket chain Iceland and it is removing palm oil from all its own-brand products. Blocked from TV as it is deemed politically backed, the ad has gained an even larger audience via social media and has sparked worldwide controversy.
While I am in support of the environmental cause, the outright vilification of palm oil isn’t justified. Present in our food and cosmetics, and used in many other products, palm oil also provides biofuel and energy, creates jobs and drives a lot of our country’s industries. The fault lies in the errant landowners who don’t give two hoots about destroying the environment.
“Oil palm in itself is no better or worse than other crops,” said Douglas Sheil, an ecologist at Norwegian University of Life Sciences in a wired.co.uk report. “Pineapples, chocolate, coffee, bananas, cane sugar, soya, coconuts, vanilla and so on, also beef cattle, also replace tropical forests.”
To me, it’s not quite the same as telling people to, say, stop eating sharks’ fin. Getting everyone up in arms over palm oil risks jeopardising an entire country’s rice bowl if the correct message with the full facts is not clearly disseminated.
Maybe that’s why the Love Is A Gift ad by Phil Beastall, which cost only £50, resonated with so many. It tells of a guy preparing for Christmas and listening to a cassette tape. Later, viewers learn that it is from his late mother, with a final message for him for Christmas.
There’s no big-budget commercial production, no political agenda – just a straightforward honest, touching message about giving, love and family. For Christians, it’s also a reminder about the ultimate gift – the gift of the Christ child.
If you’re out shopping, you might want to pick up a pair of flats for your Christmas or year-end party while you’re at it.
Sure, high heels have long been associated with sophistication and femininity, not to mention how it gives added height and confidence to the wearer. But of late, down-to-earth flat footwear seems to have risen through the ranks to give your Manolo Blahniks a run for your money.
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Chloe Malle (on.wsj.com/2A6AAbU) puts forward the notion that it’s possible to still look chic sans high heels.
Apple has also come up with a Prussian-blue ballet slipper emoji, presumably so as to not discriminate against women who are passionate about their flats.
There’s no shortage of styles as designer brands such as Balenciaga have elevated the casual flat into dressy footwear that’s even good enough for formal occasions, minus a couple of inches.
As someone who would never be caught in a pair of flats, I’m beginning to change my tune as my feet (and my back) demand more respect. While attending an assignment in Seoul, it was not even midway through the night and my feet were killing me. I stood around the table barefoot on the carpet for the rest of the evening.
The Chinese have a saying, oi lang mm moi meng, loosely translated to mean one would rather risk losing her life for the sake of beauty. Reckon I’ll be choosing life over beauty in my graceful years.
Even in South Korea, one of the world’s most beauty-obsessed capitals, some women are rebelling against the plastic surgery standards and choosing to go real. Women such as YouTube star Lina Bae are part of the beauty movement “escape the closet” that’s fighting unrealistic beauty standards. According to The Guardian report, the trend is liberating women and promoting body positivity.
Not so in the United States where the next big thing now is the foreskin facial. Kate Beckinsale is the latest celebrity to vouch for the treatment, which uses serum derived from babies’ penises.
Errr, no thank you, I’ll stick with my wrinkles then.
So what gift are you hoping for Christmas this year?
I’ll settle for good health, peace of mind and true joy. Yes, I’ve got expensive tastes ...
Patsy is still waiting for inspiration for Christmas gift ideas. Share your thoughts with firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was amended on Dec 4, 2018. An earlier version referred to the country Iceland where British supermarket chain Iceland Stores was meant.