Saturday, December 21, 2013

Whatcha making, Charlie??
It's raining and dark this solstice day.  Can it already be a few days from Christmas?  I could probably just direct you to this post from Australia, and say "yeah, what wise, thoughtful Helena says": less is more, and enough of the push to buy and do this time of year. More of the quiet.  But it is ingrained in us, in many of us, and so we do our best to be true to our animal selves, hibernating, cherishing the dark, loving the feel of our loved ones nestled next to us, and to make the best of our human culture which says Rejoice! Sing! Be Merry! because joy doesn't seem like an impulse to shy away from. Who doesn't need more joy?

And so, our days look like a mix.  The troubadors in the family are wrapping up Appalachian Christmas Carol this week, performed in the setting of a coal-mining company town, and literally in an old beautiful opera house from the 1870's.  Storytelling and song in the darkness, I can get behind that.

Dan, on the left
Eliza, "Miner's Refrain"

My dad and his wife came this week  - 11 hours each way! - to see the play and share some early Christmas with us.  Our visits together are often wedged into a couple of days bookended by visits with many other family members when we visit Wisconsin, and it was so great to have them here for a couple of quiet days together.  

This morning as I'm writing, and occasionally chatting with the chickadees eating suet outside my window (they have a lot to say about how warm it is suddenly, and how wet they are today!), I am also listening to a service of lessons and carols on a webcast between the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and the Christmas Lutheran church in Bethlehem, where my mom and I visited last April.  Anika is sharing the table with me, and as half of the service is in Arabic, she is pretty content to keep reading her Nancy Drew and tune in for the music when it comes.   

I am moved, beyond the celebration itself, but I tell Ani it's the yogurt caught in my throat.  I don't quite know how to talk to her today about spirituality and religion, about how those things don't always exist in the same space for me, how what is moving to me today is the human struggle and not the Christmas story.

In a rare quiet minute, I wonder what am I looking for in our Christmas that feels real?  Time to spend with people we love.  The trip we will make this week to make that happen.  When I ask the girls what is important to them this season, without fail they talk about cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. No one has mentioned the tree we don't have (instead it's a branch hung with painted galls!), and while they love the ritual of the advent calendar, even that has not been as important this season.  When they remembered to make wish lists last week they mostly included things like socks and kittens (Yes socks. No kittens.)  We've told Solstice stories about the rebirth of the sun, and fell asleep to candles lit in tin lanterns last night.  A bit of sun in the darkness. Even in the understated state of our celebration season we are busy and a little harried, but I think most of that will melt once we're in that car, heading for the thing we are craving - togetherness.

Happy darkness to you, quiet or full of song!


Helena said...

Oh, my friend, this is lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I'm writing this from my room with a cat spread out asleep on our summer quilt, birds calling from the gum trees, cicadas singing...the window is wide open, and light is streaming in. The quiet...after a morning of happy busy... is beautiful. :) I love your post and your path and your togetherness! Thank you SO much for sharing it here.

merry said...

I,too,was moved to tears during the simulcast - scanning the faces in Christmas Lutheran Church for someone familiar.(Adel!)Hearing Mitri's voice.Hearing the kids' bells with violin, drum and guitar.Remembering every blessed thing we saw, smelled, tasted and the people! Oh, the beautiful, loving people! What a gift that was on this cold, icy morning. I felt as one with them - I was back in Bethlehem!