The Season is officially here- mine is called Christmas, though I accept it as an antidote to winter rather than a bone fide birthday celebration for Jesus. The pagans had a good thing going- launching a Winterfest when their pantries were going to sustain them, the days were short and the nights cold. They could share what they had for the months ahead: a log for warmth, dried food for sustenance. They could elevate the evergreens to revered status since they did not die out with the leafy trees. Dancing around the trees in a fire-warmed grove must have helped their seasonal affective disorder. The fermented berries probably gave them a nice little glow, too. They lit up the night in many ways. The Christians were smart enough to appropriate the party vibe for their own counter-celebration. It was a business move, to keep the ranks coming in and tithing. Counterprogramming, people. The worshipers in the forest connected the lengthening of the days and the arrival of Spring to their worship. The gods honored at Winter Solstice represented competition, so Voila! A child is born, a Son is given. What is more festive than a baby? Christmas! Let the carols be written! I’d be all in, too. The Christians were reminded to bring gifts to the priests in honor of the baby. They needed to eat and have wine for the cold months. They had to stoke the furnace of the church and have woven goods to keep them warm. And so, there is a reason for the season. Religion serves many purposes. The pagan ritual of sustaining hope and uniting against the darkness appeals to me. I’m an old fashioned girl, I guess.
To this day, commerce fights the spiritual aura of the holiday. I’ll take the glimmer and the good will, whatever purpose it serves. Better to light the LEDS than to curse the darkness. My Yule Logs are gas, but that seems like progress.
Our Thanksgiving was quiet and perfect. My father in law has arrived for the month, and he is the Great Grandpa in residence. Our only family in the zip code was Matt and Justine, which meant we had a new born infant to cuddle and coo over.This also meant that the turkey- a free range masterpiece laden with rich dark meat- could be a petite 14 pounds. Steve did the honors on the grill. It was perfection. With only 5 mouths to feed, Steve made a policy decision to import L Woods sides. I would not have done sweet potatoes or green bean casserole, and he needed to have them. He knew I had NEVER made a pie, so he bought that, too. The verdict: good choice. Every morsel was better than I could have made it, and we were relaxed and happy. Cooking is over rated. When I am the cook it is, anyhow. Eating is the best.
Yes- Steve maintained his annual ritual of staging the turkey neck by his crotch. The fact that he lacked a zipper due to his choice to cook in running pants somewhat compromised the effect. He posted it on FB anyway after making me take 50 shots. The selfies he took from thigh level pointing up were brutal. Now that he is a grandpa, I think he needs to stay classy. HA. At any rate, no one flagged it for removal as offensive; I suppose that means it is a FAIL to him.
His gross joke was a contrast to the pure perfection of our new baby. He was so happy just to be held, and Walter and Jax ended the day with a Christmas photo shoot. I am officially in the spirit of family and friends.
The house is minimally dressed to impress: I would say I have 60% of my usual stuff up. It’s enough. Both of my Nativities are still residing in the attic, so I truly AM pagan this year. Janet the Wiccan princess. I guess Sister Hilda and company did not program me properly. I might have to hedge my bets and drag the Holy Family out of mothballs.
Every string of lights is on a timer, and I generally head up to bed with the house aglow. By midnight, we are totally dark; on the flip side, my insomnia has allowed me to rise at 5 and witness the sequential awakening of my displays: first my kitchen, then in rapid order, my mantels, village and tree. On a quiet morning, with a cup of coffee and my dogs- it is a palpable blessing. Once I thought I was a gregarious extrovert. Steve has turned my volume down. I treasure the quiet moments, perhaps MORE because Steve podcasts from the house, and I have to arise early to catch the stillness.
And therein lies my Christmas conundrum. I do NOT like to bustle. Christmas shopping has lost all appeal to me since my knee fell out of its track. I do not want to give gifts that are perfunctory, I do not want buy bad stuff. My boys have always laughed at my efforts to procure T shirts with clever or hip graphics. I am too old to know what is trendy for my daughters-in-law, and I don’t wish to obligate them to wear anything this old lady might choose in error. As for my boys: hell- this brain always manages to procure the wrong size, a bad color, or more likely- the identical thing I gave last year. My grandbabies have had the benefit of showers and birth gifts, and they need nothing. Despite that, their stuff is the most fun, and the easiest to buy online.
I will need to make a plan since I cannot leave Roger to dwell in solitude while I hit the mall. Well, yes I could– I believe that he misses the quiet of his California dream just a bit.
I’ll let you know what I come up with. But in the meantime, light a candle against the darkness, and hug away the cold. Sing a song, warm some cider. Dance. Go pagan. There were no malls back in the day. No reindeer sweaters. We can keep our wits and our dignity and still enjoy this month of long, dark, cold nights.
I have a case of Trader Joe’s Gypsy Rose red to stand in for the fermented berries. It’ll do.
Come back. I don’t expect to get more articulate as the season progresses, but maybe I’ll get funny. Or inventive. Or I’ll cry for help and you will wish to be there for me. It’s the reason for the season, sharing…
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