Pure gold

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Kerry Knudsen

Unbelievable. That was 2020. Gone, it seems, in a flash, leaving behind wreckage and smoldering ruins across the political, economic, social and spiritual landscape, and the sordid and outrageous attitudes of our leaders that they can do something about it by punishing others.

I can’t get it. Take a topic — any topic. Let’s choose “climate change.” Think what you will about climate change, the idea that we humans can affect it is nothing new. People have been throwing virgins into volcanoes since time began to affect climate change. I get it. We are “different,” than the savages and pagans, but nonetheless, it’s nothing new.

We are coming up on my favourite anti-pagan holiday: Christmas. As I write this, it is Black Friday, the Advent of the Commercial Season. It has quite a ring to it, eh? Black Friday. It’s the official economic start of the season of Christians apologizing for appropriating pagan holidays. Of course, you can pick about any day and it will coincide with a pagan holiday. Pagans do nothing better than find reasons to not work and feast off the labours of others.

Lee Ann and I love to garden. We are not particularly good at it, but it’s fun. We even found a Japanese, cold-hardy banana tree, Musa basjoo, that we managed to winter over for three seasons in southern Ontario.

One of our go-to places for garden plants, herbs and seeds is Richter’s Seed Company in Goodwood, Ont. They don’t have everything, but they have some interesting exotics, and they sell spices. Until recently (and maybe again, now) you could buy fresh Szechuan peppercorns in bulk from them. Szechuan peppercorns are not peppers, but the seeds of a mountain ash tree. They provide the numbing effect you may have experienced in some fiery dishes. It enhances the capsicum, but does not replace it.

I married Lee Ann on December 21 — the pagan winter solstice. I did not do it for irreligious reasons. I did it for mercenary reasons. It is helpful to people like me to have a wedding anniversary on an otherwise-also-notable date. As people always note, December 21 is the shortest day of the year. It’s not, actually. It has 24 hours, same as the rest, but it has the longest period of darkness. Anyway, I haven’t ever missed an anniversary. This is useful information for men.

One Christmas season, I was shopping Richter’s for ideas for our anniversary, and I discovered that Richter’s, at least then, sold frankincense and myrrh, two of the three gifts the three wise men brought from the East in the Christmas story. I bought some of each, but I have to admit, incense does nothing for me. In fact, I don’t like it. That said, things may have been different for me, had I lived 2,000 years ago. Sanitation was not what it is, and I hear the smell of sewage was bothersome, plus the government had a penchant for nailing people to sticks along the roads to show what happens when you don’t comply with regulations, no matter how petty.

Unlike frankincense and myrrh, the other gift, gold, is not a scent. Years ago, I decided to buy Lee Ann a oneounce (not metric) gold Canadian Maple Leaf for her anniversary. Maple Leafs are unique, in that they are struck from virgin Canadian gold — gold that is pure and newly mined, not melted down from a pagan horde or the proceeds of some succession-plot usurper king. It has never lost its innocence.

Not until me, that is.

I went to the bank one year to get Lee Ann’s Maple Leaf and told the banker what I wanted. He was chatty, for a banker, and asked what it was for. I told him it is for my wife’s anniversary, but it kind of takes the edge off Christmas giving, as well. He was impressed. He said, that’s a pretty nice gift. “Not really,” I said. “It looks like I spent $1,300 (at that time) on an anniversary present, but it hasn’t change my net worth one nickel.”

Then, he really WAS impressed. He had never met somebody so mercenary as to use a wedding anniversary, one of the most-feared annual events in history, as a chance to manage investments. I figured if I could strike a chord with a banker at Christmas as a fellow skinflint and Scrooge, I had really done something.

Nonetheless, I see myself as neither skinflint nor Scrooge — just a lucky guy that has been most blessed, and I with the same for you and yours this holy day season. Merry Christmas, and happy new year from the staff at W.I. Media Inc.