Not to come off all Hallmark ad but the best gifts are those that keep on giving. A well-knitted scarf that sees you through several seasons of snowstorms, a sturdy pair of boots that won’t fall to pieces no matter how far you tread in them, or a bottle of cologne (alright, mine’s eau de toilette more often than not) that lends you a welcome confidence boost for the tougher days…
Or a humble bar of soap, as was gifted to me by my aunt this past Christmas (mind you, it was accompanied by some much-needed financial aid). Encased in light brown crepe paper, this beautifully crafted, slightly limey yellow slab of lemoniness has more to it than meets the eye. Purchased from Sweny’s Pharmacy in Dublin’s Lincoln Place, this was, I was told, an ode to Joycean literature.
I’m not going to pretend I had a clue as to what my aunt was talking about when she informed me but I was intrigued all the same. I mean, how often do you get a skincare Christmas present that has literary connotations? Not that bloody often.
The reference appears (or so I’m told, haven’t read it myself) in James Joyce’s Ulysses when protagonist Leopold Bloom and Mrs. Marion visit Sweny’s: Bloom “points to the south, then to the east. A cake of new lemon soap arises, diffusing light and perfume”.
And he wasn’t wrong, it’s still pretty delectable. Rather looking forward to feeling learned when washing my hands now. Perhaps this is the way forward education-wise? Learning through lathering?
Have you ever got a gift that kept on giving?