wet christmas (bliss)
the eggnog bread pudding just came out of the oven, making its sweet presence undeniably known as invisible bits of it swirl through the kitchen and up to our noses.
the brown sugar bacon has taken its turn in the very hot box, is now sizzling there on the old oven racks.
the boys–bass and soprano–shriek from the basement, playing a game found under the tree. bach pours from the radio, tucked on the ledge.
it’s been quite a morning already.
it’s the morning i love so very much, for its quiet indulgence, its unscripted joys.
what i love about christmas as a mama who loves tending her boys is the chance to lay down deep chords, to wrap them in ways that will forever inform their vision of christmas.
even if, just a while ago, the older one mentioned how some christmas he wanted to go the cheap-chinese-and-a-movie route, to try out being jewish for christmas. i laughed, then got teary eyed, said, “wait till i’m dead.” (not a moment later, mulling it over, we struck this religious detente: christmas morning we’ll keep, and at 2 some christmas afternoon, we’ll give it a whirl, shuffle off to chow mein and a movie.)
oh, the joy of christmas.
while i purr like a cat, puttering about the kitchen, making merry with sugar and cinnamon, egg nog and spice, i leave you this little tale that i wrote for the tribune. seems like just the right bit for this christmas-y morn…
Long, long ago, I figured out the Christmas morning secret: Before the sun peeked up, I would tiptoe down the stairs, guided only by the light of stars and moon, if I fancied half a chance of getting there before Santa’s shiny boots landed with a thud.
After all, once the jolly fellow in the all-red duds arrived, it would be bright lights and crinkled paper hurled beneath the tree. And if I wanted what I was after, well, I practically needed to slide down the banister before another creature stirred in that old house.
Oh, this wasn’t back when I was a child. But, rather, as the mother of a sleeping babe.
It was there, in the kitchen, as the windows clouded up with steam — as heat from the oven met with bitter freezing cold just beyond the panes — that I discovered the joy that, for me, comes on no other morning of the year: Christmas tunes on the radio, tree lit bright just for me, I haul out the makings of my tried-and-tested coffee cake, I get the cocoa bubbling on the stove, I set the table with a handed-down set of merry Christmas plates and cups and saucers.
It is the gift of making joy in the morning, wrapping my every sense in the magic of the season, and then, once the footsteps come — not so long ago, padded toddler feet, now the clomp of boys who’ve grown to nearly man-size — I get the best unwrapped gift of all: I behold the face of pure delight as my most beloved boys dive into what’s become of my pre-dawn puttering.
They needn’t say a word, needn’t whisper thanks. The thrill comes for me in watching tradition replay its fine refrain, the candy canes lifted from the cocoa, the clementines passed around the room (and occasionally tossed as if baseballs), the Christmas stockings unceremoniously dumped.
This is a mama’s heart’s content: to lay down the stuff of dreams, and weave golden-threaded memories for all the yuletides yet to come. Mine as well as theirs.
from my steamy kitchen to yours, i wish you the utter contentment that comes, wholly and purely, on the most blessed of christmasy morns.
xoxoxo wherever you are…..
p.s. instead of snow we’ve buckets of rain here this christmas, thus instead of white it’s a wet christmas….
I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
-William Butler Yeats
I can’t tell you why, but when I was spending hours in my family’s kitchen, baking up a storm the this poem sprung to mind over and over. This poem is how I feel in the kitchen. This poem also happens to remind me of you, Bam. Happy Christmas.
Friday, December 25, 2009 – 10:03 PM
Ah dear table friends….that very poem is framed by my fireplace and I paused and sat to read it on Christmas Eve day – while setting the tables for 18 guests for Christmas dinner. I needed the reminder of its spirit. It is a beautiful poem Ivy and indeed carries a Bam like feeling in its bones. Keeping the peace of Christmas “within” was my goal. Between the table here, Bam’s Tribune article which I was privileged to read in the paper, a beautiful Christmas Eve liturgy, and some very special quiet time on my own Christmas morning…well Christmas was all it should be. Now I am on to nurturing that peace for 364 more days. I know I can pull up to the table for support and will remember to pause by the fireplace and reflect with Mr. Yeats.
Happy New Year looms…..blessings and rest in the meantime.
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – 09:02 AM
oh, how heavenly. i am particularly tickled when true poetry finds its way here…..it is sublime and so fitting. i will memorize its lines. i’ve not memorized in some time. but mr yeats is one for which to stretch one’s mind. i love both you souls, auntie and niece, the paradigm i reach for…..let us keep peace in our souls, yes. and ivy, bless you so for bringing it…i love knowing that each of us is off spinning our orbit, coming back to the same touchstones….
bless all who come here, indeed………
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – 11:30 AM
Thank you, all you teacup coziers, for a safe, beautiful place to remember what is truly important. May the new year bless you mightily.
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – 03:30 PM
Peace does come as part of this holiday. Right now, my home is not at all like that which Mr. Yeats so beautifully describes. My guys, men ranging from 25 to 59, are rocking out to that Guitar hero game or whatever it is called. And, the noise certainly is anything but peaceful. However, there is nothing quite like the peace of having all your guys and their gals under your roof on this snowy day after. Tomorrow when they pack up and drive the hours to their homes, one of them 4 states away, the sounds will be peaceful but the feeling in my soul will be anything but peace. May today’s peace be with all of us who gather round the table throughout 2010!
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – 05:15 PM