Monday Morning Musings:
“A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”
–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
And the spirits of the past arise
I listened to Radio Times,
“The Pervasiveness of Tchaikovsky’s
The conductor described
The transformation to the snow scene,
A quiet moment in the action that she loves.
And when the music played
I remembered how much I loved
That section, too,
When the music swells
And the bed moves across the stage.
And it’s possible my eyes were a just a little teary
As I sat there in my car
And found my Christmas spirit.
The year we took our young daughters
To see The Nutcracker
I had won a prize,
The only time I’ve ever won a contest,
But what a spectacular one—
At the magnificent Academy of Music
To see the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Production,
George Balanchine’s version,
A Philadelphia tradition,
Plus a tour of the stage afterward—
And, of course, a nutcracker
For our very own.
We had watched The Nutcracker ballet
With Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland.
Our younger daughter was scared of the Mouse King.
But we told her to wait
And he would turn into a prince.
And he did.
The fear was gone
And she exclaimed,
“Princey Prince, I love you!”
A phrase we later quoted
Back at her.
It never bothered her,
And why should it?
She has her own prince now
Though he was never a Mouse King
He has also been transformed
But aren’t we all?
There was no such outburst
During the Academy performance.
Our young daughters had been sick,
But they rallied enough to see the performance.
Somewhere there’s a photo
Taken on the stage
Of one daughter with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
I searched for it—
It was a Polaroid
In the days before cell phone cameras?
It’s in my memory,
The whole experience
A Christmas Past,
But I wonder if my daughters remember it
Our daughters often got sick at Christmas.
There was the year they had chicken pox,
First the older,
Then the younger.
And calamine lotion.
In the midst of Christmas presents
Then there was the year
We had to leave my mother’s
Suddenly and before
The festivities began.
The girls dozed on her bed–
With no interest in presents
We knew then they must be sick.
So back home we went to
Put them to bed.
We had planned to eat dinner
At my mom’s that night—
Perhaps the traditional Christmas dinner,
Bagels and lox?
And then travel to my in-laws’ house
The next day.
So we had nothing ready
For a quick meal.
Even the Chinese restaurants
In our neighborhood
I think my husband and I ate
Cold cereal that night.
Or perhaps peanut butter and jam.
But from then on
I always had a backup meal idea.
All those Christmases
With our daughters growing up.
Breakfasts with Santa
And the light show at Wanamaker’s,
The old department store
Now a Macy’s.
The high school Christmas concerts,
I loved the Madrigal performances best,
The girls in their beautiful Renaissance gowns.
My older daughter with her older friends
My younger daughter’s powerful soprano
“Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too.”
Now both girls are grown
And building their own traditions
With their spouses
One memory at a time.
As I unwrap my own.
Last year on Christmas Eve
Our son-in-law proposed to
Our younger daughter.
Dreams of future Christmases
In their heads.
I was also engaged
At Christmas time,
Many years ago
And many Christmases past.
That young woman still lives
Somewhere inside me
Dreams and experiences
A kaleidoscope of spirits
Past, present, and future.
Dizzying to try to sort them all
But somehow comforting, too.
Providing Christmas cheer
As Christmas spirits should.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!
–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
As for other Christmas spirits–
Mulled wine was our drink of choice this Christmas season.
It is simple enough to make by gently heating red wine with cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, orange slices, and a bit of sugar.
You can add some port to make Smoking Bishop. See Tori Avey’s recipe here
And more history from NPR here.
But we went the easy route this year by buying some already spiced red wine.
And added to the cookie rotation
These Pecan Pie Truffles with a bit of bourbon. Delicious!
A bit of spirit for the spirit.
So to speak.