Monday, December 24, 2012

Joy at Christmas

"He gives his harness bells a shake
 to ask if there is some mistake... 
The only other sound's the sweep
of snowy wood and downy flake."

"I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

"The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully."

"The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight."

"It ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen-
Then stills its Artisans-like Ghosts-
Denying they have been-"

"Merry Christmas!!"

Tonight, we celebrated in my Mate's tradition of Wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve.  Food abounded in twelve dishes, and so did guests and even song, as we made rounds to the neighbors afterward caroling.  Then there was more food, and rounds of coffee and tea... my best Polish phrase being, "Kava cze herbata?" "Coffee or tea?"  

It is always mayhem.  We never begin the day before.  I said, "Let's make pierogis today so we won't have to tomorrow."  My mother-in-law replied in broken English: No. She had always cooked the entire meal herself; and her mother before her.  (I had my own thoughts on that subject; I certainly am not going to volunteer to make a twelve dish extravaganza by myself! What a dreadful tradition!) Of course with three people helping it could be done in one day.  Now, that isn't what I was asking exactly.  Not whether it could be done, but whether we could make it easier.  But making it easier is not the Polish way, at any rate not in my in-laws' views of things.  But as she was helping me, dubious though I was, I surrendered.  Consequently of course we did finish everything, only just in the nick of time, and we were all tired and a little short-tempered when the guests arrived.  Ahh, well.  Christmas is a season of longsuffering, even with mother-in-laws.

But the feast was wondrous to behold.  Poppy-seed noodles, two soups, three kinds of pierogis... and those delicious pastries she makes without a recipe.  Mmmm... and my husband's specialty, a lovely blueberry cheesecake.  (
It was exhausting despite the fun... I begin to feel a little oldish as the hours run on, and even on holidays I want my bed.  But after every guest departed, the loveliest new snow began to whisper down from the dark sky, lifting my heart with its silent melody.  So beautiful. A Christmas present from the cause of Christmas, and the author of all that is beautiful, holy or good.  I saw the crystalline flakes falling and the quiet deeps of Christ pooled in my soul. Merry, merry Christmas!!

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