All the drunks they were singing

24 12 2017

Christmas Eve we’d alternate going to my mom’s Episcopal Church and my dad’s Lutheran church. There were more Lutherans in Falls, so the church was bigger, and with a pretty good choir; it was always a lovely service.

Still, I preferred the Episcopal service. I loved that church: its wooden pews, worn by decades of congregants resting their arms across the tops of the backs in front them as they prayed, the stained glass all around the nave, maybe some kids in robes in the chancel, ready to sing the children’s songs, and the altar, with Father Kaiser, the kindly priest of my childhood, there to greet us all.

My favorite part was the singing: Glo-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-ria, in excelsis deo, and, at the end, in a darkened church, “Silent Night”, a beautiful hush to a small girl in a small Wisconsin town.

I still like “Silent Night”, tho’ it’s been many years since I’ve sung it in St. Peter’s; my tastes as an adult run more to the rough and bitter-sweet.

So, the annual tradition:

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a happy, raucous, bittersweet, beautiful peaceful to us all.

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And the bells were ringing out

25 12 2016

Bit late, yes, and not even a bit original, but the bitter-sweet is just right:

Happy merry peaceful.





Upsot?

24 12 2015

My mom loves Christmas music. Loves loves loves.

Back when we had a stereo she’d load up that little thingamabob in the turntable with, I dunno, 5, 6, albums and let ‘er rip. Nowadays, she loads up the cd player and lets ‘er rip.

When I was little I loved the music and then I got older and teen-crabby and hated it and now that I’m not forced to listen to it I’m kind Eh about the whole thing.

Still, there was one song I was amused by:

And yes, I listened to it while writing this.

I still like it.

I hope you do, too. Merry happy peaceful.





Merry happy peaceful

25 12 2013

From Absurd Brooklyn.

052

Since we don’t actually have snow in BK today, let’s just call this “aspirational”.

All of it.

xo





Have yourself a merry little Christmas

24 12 2010

It’s a trifecta—no, a hat trick!—of blog thefts, this time, from the NYTimes.

“Worst Christmas Gift Ever“:

*A Harrah’s Casino coffee mug full of quarters given to me by my grandparents. The mug read, “Life begins at 21!” I was 9.

*One year my elderly great-aunt game me a box of straws and my sister received a tube of mustard. This remains a longstanding family joke nearly 60 years later.

*We received a can of haggis (yes, I guess haggis comes in a can) and a copy of the book “The Road.” It was quite the depressing Christmas.

*The worst as in destructive: My brothers sometime in the 1950s received an air gun and shot the ornaments off the revolving aluminum Christmas tree.

*When my sister was newly divorced for the second time and completely miserable, our mother gave her a cookbook called “Cooking for One” and some sort of individual crockpot to go with it.

*Dawn dish soap. I was 14. I guess somebody forgot to get me a gift, so they raided the cupboards. It was in a Happy Birthday bag.

*When I was 12, my mother gave me a wastebasket.

My Christmases tended to be pretty good, actually. There was always a little disappointment (where’s my pony?!), but my folks did what they could. One Christmas they bought my brother, sister, and I a combined gift: a t.v.!

We damned near hyperventilated as we unwrapped that gift.

And my mom’s side of the family has gotten into the habit of trading intentionally-crappy gifts with one another at their annual round-robin. Given this group’s wicked humor and delight in drink, well, it tends to be a very merry party.

So. Happy merry peaceful, to all and everyone.





Friday poem: Second Space

25 12 2009

I don’t want to cast aspersions, but:

Viruses are evil.

Do I exaggerate? Is it possible that not all viruses, are, in fact, evil? Do I moralize on a subject which has little to do with morality? Could I be taking this cold just a mite too personally?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes again.

Thus the cause (proximate and otherwise) for the lacunae in posting, tho’ there is always, head befogged by cold or not, more to be said.

Saved, then, by the Friday poem: sayings on another’s words.

Today is Christmas, and while I doubt that Jesus was born 2009 years ago on this date—I’m among those who think the early Church bogarted the pagan celebration of solstice for its own purposes—I’m not much bothered by the bad timekeeping.

After all, I’m neither pagan nor Christian, and tend to think of time as a useful construct rather than a moral force: that we may be wrong about times and dates  may cause chagrin scientifically, historically, but philosophically? A mere oops will suffice.

In any case, if Jesus of Nazareth was born, he had to have been born some time, so why not late December or early January (for all you Orthodox readers)?  Jesus-the-Capricorn: why not?

This is all a long prelude to a poem by a poet who is rather more unsettled by God than I am. Blake? Auden? Ah: Czeslaw Milosz.

Milosz, the Polish poet tormented by Polish history, by all the blood and ashes so recently spilled in his land. He struggled with God, with his fellow Poles, with his fellow humans, with himself, breaking beauty against the hard and tumbling facts of existence.

In his early poems Milosz is easier with God, with his nearness and apart-ness; then again, in his early poems Auschwitz had not yet been called forth by the Germans,  was still Oœwiêcim, a small town southwest of Krakow.

This is one of his later poems, overtly yearning for God, in mourning for his absence. If he had been a sign or symbol early on, by the end of the century God was, for Milosz, a bruising reality—one  necessary for mortal life.

So I the unbeliever in search of something more give this space to a believer in the something more. Peace, in all things.

Second Space

How spacious the heavenly halls are!
Approach them on aerial stairs.
Above white clouds, there are the hanging gardens of paradise.

A soul tears itself from the body and soars.
It remembers there is an up.
And there is a down.

Have we really lost faith in that other space?
Have they vanished forever, both Heaven and Hell?

Without unearthly meadows how to meet salvation?
And where will the damned find suitable quarters?

Let us weep, lament the enormity of the loss.
Let us smear our faces with coal, loosen our hair.

Let us implore that it be returned to us,
That second space.