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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Centavo's Two Cents: ’Tis the Season . . . ing!

by Centavo

The idea of gift giving at Christmas makes me a bit curious about the origins of this custom. Gift giving, according to my diligent research, actually goes back to the time of the Roman Empire. On the first of January, during the Winter Solstice, the Roman Emperor expected gifts from his administration. It was a requirement, possibly for the favors that he had bestowed upon them during the year. Would the Emperor receive such lavish items as gold, jewelry, precious stones or exotic spices? Well actually, no. In the beginning of this gift giving expectation . . . believe it or not . . . a simple branch from an evergreen tree would do. What?

Maybe evergreen trees were scarce in the Roman Empire, but I would have liked to have seen the Emperor’s face as these gifts were passed to him. Soon enough, competition would give way to delivering honey and cakes as a symbol of a new year filled with sweetness and prosperity. I am sure that made the Emperor a lot happier.

In America, gift giving began in the 1820s. It was advertisers setting their sights on a reason to buy that brought the gift giving idea to the extreme.

In 1930, the Coca-Cola Company incorporated Santa Claus in its marketing campaign and, as you know, the rest is history.

So here I am in San Felipe debating with myself on the particulars of the family gift giving that I find myself obligated to do. The beauty of nature, the desert, the ocean, surrounds me as I prepare to locate the Christmas wrap from last year. Evergreen branches would not do . . . nor would cakes, honey, puddings, alcohol or anything made with seashells. What could I possibly buy my relatives who already have so much?

One Christmas season I made certificates that told my gift receivers that I had donated money to a needy organization instead of a gift for them. That didn’t go very well. My niece’s kids had already stocked up on batteries for their expected mechanical toys . . . and the adults looked at me in disbelief.

So in the spirit of giving, I have thought that I probably can cover my entire Christmas list from the street merchants while waiting to cross the border. I could stay in my car, pass money over to them, and pull my items through the window. My brother Joe collects banks. Last time I traveled to the states, didn’t I see someone carrying a Sponge Bob with a coin slit on his head?

No matter what, I must purchase Christmas gifts . . . !!!! Hey . . . I just remembered that San Felipe has manufactured its own Sea Salt and Garlic Seasoned Salt! They are packaged in beautiful blue bottles with embossed metallic labels . . . and they also have Margarita Salt! What’s not to like about that? The kids get gift cards and the adults . . . well . . . ’Tis the seasoning! . . . I’m set.

Best of holiday wishes to all!

Come visit. I’ll be in a hammock with some mistletoe and hot buttered rum.