Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Wassail! Wassail! All over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made from the white maple tree
With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee!

Took Friday and Monday off. We were way behind on holiday preparations. I put up the outside lights.... house only. Didn't get to the trees and bushes this year.

The tree is up and decorated. It is a little lopsided on it's trunk and unfortunately the side facing the room is the side with the most branches... and all the ornaments on that side did make it fall over, but very little damage was done. The water was sucked up and a few ornaments placed back on the tree and key balancing measures were put in to effect. Halls decked, cookies baked. Shrub made. (brandy, lemon, and wine... good drink).

We saw The Lord of the Rings, last installment. Good. Probably have to see it again -- a lot happened in that movie. That being said, it did drag, I thought, in a few places. I realize there was a lot of despair in the story... but the way that was portrayed in the movie was a lot of long, long shots of Frodo's legendarily expressive eyes .... you know, showing... despair. Lots and lots of it. Couldn't they have cut 7 minutes of despair and put, maybe, Saramaun's 7 minute scene back in?

We did not get Christmas cards out this year. Sorry, those of you who did not get them (which would be pretty much all of you) but that's the way it went this year. Don't feel left out. You weren't.

I hear Mahtaj, a lady I work with, is off camping in Colorado. Ah, to just take off and go on a whim. I'm so jealous.

I still have to wrap Vicki's gifts. Looks like once again that will happen on Christmas Eve. I don't particularly like doing it Christmas Eve, but that's when it seems to happen.

Installed MSN9 on Mom's computer, but man, it's bogging it down. May have to go back to 8. I put 9 on there for the popup-stopping capabilities. But really. I think it should run much better than that.

As the season wears on, I listen to more and more traditional Christmas music. Right now I'm listening to "The Sixteen". Mediaeval Christmas music. Pretty much Church music (for the most part). Makes me want to burn some of that incense that we burned at church. Vicki hates the aroma. A lot of people do. I always liked it. Used to be able to buy it at Cool Stuff. "Gloria Blend", it is.

I've learned the chords to "The Gloucestershire Wassail" -- now I just need to learn all the words. It's another Wassailing song that I like better than "Here We Come a Wassailing". It really captures the spirit of wassailing very well. I've also learned "The Boar's Head Carol" -- another of my favorites.

If you haven't guessed, I really like the traditions and circumstance around Christmas and its pagan northern-European counterpart, "Yule". Most of it seems to be centered around (1) the fact that it's a cold, dark time of year when a little cheer is most welcomed, and (2) our own persistence and renewal of that on which we subsist (agriculture -- food) from a time when you couldn't just pop down to the local store and buy some apples or whatever else you lacked in the middle of the winter. The story of the birth of a redeemer fits well into the old pagan ideas -- hope in the middle of dark times and the promise of an eternal life. From what I understand scholars put the birth of the actual Christ sometime in summer, but the church moved the feast to coincide with the grand traditions of the midwinter festivals. Probably not only a politically wise move, but a fitting one as well. I don't see Christmastime through the same polarizing lenses the right and the left see it through. Yes, the word Christmas itself refers to the celebration of the birth of Christ and many of the traditions we see this time of year come from that tradition. Many others come from other traditions. I see them as a remarkably rich blend, not as one side or another being "the right way". This bunk about removing Christmas Trees from public places is a bit nuts to me. I understand the whole separation of Church and State thing but is State to remain completely sterile from culture as well? There is a difference, I think, between endorsing a particular religion and acknowledging that a very large portion of our population is in fact, Christian.

So, as we near Christmas, everybody enjoy the lights, the trees, Mr. Claus and his flying reindeer, the nativity scenes, the church music and the secular music and bask in the synergy of traditions that is known collectively as "Christmas" to Christians and non-Christians alike. And whether you're dreaming of a White Christmas or on a beach on Christmas Island with your stocking hanging on a great big coconut tree.... have a very very merry one, and do your best to ensure those around you do the same. The smile you send out comes back to you a thousand times. Whether you're smiling yourself or doing something to cause someone else to smile, do your part. You'll get yours.

Merry Christmas!

- P