All Advent we sang, "O come, O come Emmanuel". Emmanuel, another word for Jesus, means God with us. Why is this old story of the baby in a manger, shepherds, kings and a bright star still told? How does it all relate to our lives now? Another very old Latin hymn, the Ubi Caritas, declares God is love, and wherever love is, God is also. I'm no theologian, but it seems to me this is why Christmastime is special.
My neighbor sent a text my way the other night saying she would drive to Morning Muscles, and when I thumbed back to her that we didn't have exercise class until January 3rd, I could hear her groan through the trees, the driveway snow berms, and the walls of our homes. We've been eating a lot over here, too. My favorite holiday treat is spiced stewed fruit with heavy cream. It's mostly prunes. Go ahead laugh. Everyone does. I should called them dried Italian plums instead.
I know, I should be writing something sweet and funny, but it seems every time I head to my desk a child, grandchild, relative, neighbor, or friend shows up or calls on the phone. Must be the season.
Now it's time to turn off the computer, stuff the turkey, switch on some carols, open the gifts, and wish you-- and family, friends, pets, and the whole wide world a very Merry Christmas, and most especially, in this sometimes overconnected world, to be "present" for all the gifts of the day.
The house is filling up, and so are the fridge and the pantry. I still have to wrap a few things, and even do a little last minute shopping- but I figure if I can't get it in Haines, I don't need it anyway. It is very cold-- zero at 2 when the sun set this afternoon, and with a strong north wind feels colder, but we are staying warm and having fun. Here are a few photos of the last few days--
Solstice sunrise dog walk,
Never to cold for a milkshake,
Once a year I bake Grandma Smith's sour cream coffee cake. We have it every Christmas morning. That means I've done it for thirty years now. (Before that my mother did)-- And once a year, about this time, I can't find the recipe. I look through all the cookbooks that I thought I had taped the index card inside, and later (after I lost the index card) the two little desk notes I had taped together, or was it on a sticky piece of yellow legal paper? One year, after I called my mother, I scribbled it on the back of a Christmas card, that should be easy to find.
From walking on the beach in the beautiful dusky dawn of these short December days, a family breakfast, the Snow Dragon and parade with Pizza Joe and the Uglys Gifts for Grub dinner, to the Holly Jolly Follies Christmas show--Little Dave was a terrific tree, "Bruce the Spruce", Darlene reprised "The Fruitcake Lady" and Ole sang the Lutefisk Song---- it was a busy, bright, slightly wacky Haines holiday weekend.
When I heard what happened in Connecticut I couldn't breathe. All those innocent little children, and good school teachers killed-- two of my daughters are elementary teachers-- and now more details emerge. Names. Olivia, Charlotte, Emilie. Where is God in this? I asked a pastor friend, when he called to see if I was okay. He suggested we could pray together over the phone. Episcopalians don't usually do that, and I don't think I ever have done that before-- but it seemed like a better response than sitting alone at my desk sobbing, so I said sure.