Thank goodness Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers eaten, and life is back to normal.
Oh dear, did we just experience Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday? Has your holiday shopping begun?
I had hoped to travel to Dallas and join my siblings and their families for an extended Thanksgiving. But, things did not work out, and so my Thanksgiving was a small affair here at home. Nice, but Thanksgiving is not the same without brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, Southern cousins, and kids galore.
I missed out on the turkey prepared on the grill in a slow cooker. My brother-in-law, Bob, always cooks his turkey on the grill, real slow. He says his mom cooked it that way when he was growing up.
The turkey always turns out moist and tasty.
I won’t bore you with his recipe. You can find one online. But I will tell you about the experience. Mind you, I don’t chop the vegetables, prepare the bird, or do anything that would suggest that I am a cook. I am an eater, that is my job, and I take it seriously with multiple helpings of everything.
During the preparation, I move back and forth between the football games and the grill and catch up on old times, smelling the rich aroma of the steaming bird, making do on an olive and a celery stick.
The anticipation for next year’s bird is killing me.
A Stressless recliner is a lovely place from which to travel.
Today, this moment, let us rise and go to the misty isles of Faerie and join William Butler Yeats as he recounts the 300 year old tale of Ireland’s greatest poet, Oisin and his wife, the fairy princess Niamh.
… And in a wild and sudden dance We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance And swept out of the wattled hall And came to where the dewdrops fall Among the foamdrops of the sea, And there we hushed the revelry; And, gathering on our brows a frown, Bent all our swaying bodies down, And to the waves that glimmer by That sloping green De Danaan sod Sang, ‘God is joy and joy is God, And things that have grown sad are wicked, And things that fear the dawn of the morrow Or the grey wandering osprey Sorrow
We danced to where in the winding thicket The damask roses, bloom on bloom, Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom. And bending over them softly said, Bending over them in the dance, With a swift and friendly glance From dewy eyes: ‘Upon the dead Fall the leaves of other roses, On the dead dim earth encloses: But never, never on our graves, Heaped beside the glimmering waves, Shall fall the leaves of damask roses. For neither Death nor Change comes near us, And all listless hours fear us, And we fear no dawning morrow, Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott from Elbert Hubbard’s Scrap Book: Containing the Inspired and Inspiring Selections, Gathered During a Lifetime of Discriminating Reading for His Own Use
Elbert Hubbard, like most of us, was a gatherer. He gathered up the spoken thoughts of other men and women as one gathers a beautiful wildflower. This quest lead him far and wide. It was the quest he enjoyed, but the sayings we remember.
My French teacher reminded me that words can be good or bad depending on how they are used, “les mots sont des choses, bonnes ou mauvaises.”
Words are twice translated, my French instructor would say to me, first by the author in putting words to paper, and twice by the translator who interprets the subtlety of thought into a foreign language. Context, the instructor continues, gives meaning to the words.
Loin dans le soleil sont mes aspirations plus grand. Je ne peut pas les atteindre, mais je peux les regarder et de voir leur beauté, croire en eux, et essayez de suivre où ils me emportent.
There is, I reply, a third translation. That is, by the reader who applies their own emotions and feelings to the words. We all seek truth and understanding, but the path is a solitary one, one for which we are thankful if we are given some direction.
Juliette loves her Stressless Magic recliner, perhaps more so than Romeo.
Waiting for Juliette
This dating Juliette is grating on my nerves Waiting, waiting I hate she’s late Be gone the moon, it is not too soon For the sun to rise And warm my bones I deserve better weather Or at least a sweater While I am standing here
Juliette, Open yonder window I am cold and stiff as the dead And all I ask is if I can get a whiff of The perfume from your hair Arise fair lady, Do you think I’m made of stone
What color says about your personality has always been a popular topic of conversation. So, thought I would have a little fun with a series of articles on color.
What the color Grey says about you
Would one say, indecisive?
With grey as your favorite color you are on a sliding scale from white to black. Neither simple and uncomplicated nor gloom and doom. We are not talking silver, too specific, a single shade of grey that lifts you to a higher spiritual plain. No, you are every other shade of gray. In politics and life, you walk the middle of the road. No matter what comes at you, you are one cool, conserved and composed cat – reliable as a good friend in a bad spot.
Don’t kid yourself, you conform just to keep the peace.
Life is not complicated. Indecisive? No, it is just that you see things as the aftermath of a stormy sky.
Favorite author – Henrik Ibsen, favorite stage play – The Doll’s House.
When her father finished reading, Elizabeth asked, “Father, what will I be when I grow up?” Elizabeth snuggled in her father’s lap where he read to her from his favorite chair.
“You are my princess and someday a prince charming will come along and take you to his castle. Then you will live happily ever after,” her father said.
Elizabeth’s eyes moistened, the corners of her mouth turned down. “But I don’t ever want to leave you.”
Her father put down the book. “It is the nature of things darling. Just as my parents read to me, and their parents read to them. One day you will read to your children. And when you do, you will remember this moment, and I hope a smile will come to your face. Your story has yet to be written.”
“AH, how short are the days! How soon the night overtakes us! In the old country the twilight is longer; but here in the forest Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its coming, Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day and the lamplight; Yet how grand is the winter! How spotless the snow is, and perfect!”
Thus spake Elizabeth Haddon at nightfall to Hannah the housemaid,… Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part Third.The Theologian’s Tale, Elizabeth.
Did you know? In Sweden the Christmas fairy helps Santa give out gifts on Christmas Day. On that day, the children of Sweden call the fairy, Jultomte, for it is the Yule season, and “tomte” is the Swedish word for the house fairy who protects children from harm.
In Sweden, the tomte is special. You see, he lives quietly in the house all year. He hides in the attic or under the stairs and, so, is never seen by the adults. Were he seen by the wife of the house, she might mistake him for a bird or a mouse and shoo him out. Being small and practically invisible, the tomte can protect the children of the house from spiders and snakes and other evil and mischief. And for this reason, and because of the gifts he gives on Christmas Day, the children of the house serve him warm milk and porridge on Christmas Eve.
You ask, how did the first tomte come to live in a house?
Let me tell you.
In Sweden, it was not always the custom to cut down evergreen trees and decorate them. Some say it was the Germans who began the custom in the fourteenth century to celebrate the birth of Christ. That is true, but the Vikings were bringing green boughs into their home long before this.
Before Christianity came to Scandinavia, the fierce Vikings roamed the seas in long boats terrorizing the civilized world. During the long, cold, cloudy winters, when no plundering was possible, the Vikings cut boughs from evergreen trees to remind themselves that spring would come again.
A tall Viking named Claus lived along the northwestern coast with his family of ten children and four grandparents. With so many children and grandparents, he built an extra room to handle the many beds that the family needed.
It was a few days after the Winter Solstice, and the skies were dark and cloudy. Claus decided it was time to go into the forest and gather boughs of evergreen. Putting on his warmest caribou coat and ermine hat, he grabbed his axe and took the sled from the wall where it hung. When Claus got to the front door, the littlest child in the house, Tom, asked to go.
Off Claus and Tom went into the snow. At the edge of the forest they found that the trees were small and thin for the boughs had already been shorn. Deep into the forest they went where, my friends, the fairies of the forest live. These fairies, being quite small and very shy, stay away from humans. A human is quite large to a fairy and a Viking must seem like a giant.
Claus and Tom traveled far into the forest where all trees were tall, the trunks straight and the boughs dense and green. Spotting the first tree, Tom was ready to cut boughs, but his father told him to be patient. Tom raced from tree to tree, saying, “this one”, but still his father waited. Then, Tom saw the biggest and most beautiful tree he had ever seen. The boughs were as long as the table the family of ten children, two parents, and four grandparents ate on.
“This is the one, papa!” he said, and his father agreed. But as Claus came toward the tree with his axe, Tom saw deep within the tree a small face and two eyes frightened by terror at the sight of a giant coming at him with an axe. The face behind the eyes was like that of a small boy, or so it seemed to Tom. And Tom thought that he had found a playmate. Tom smiled at the pair of eyes and winked, and the fairy winked back.
Then Tom said to his father, “Do not cut the boughs. Let us take the whole tree, for it is so lovely.”
Claus, being a practical man said, “In the spring I will use the tall trunk of the tree as a mast on my longboat.”
Tom and the fairy became the best of friends. Now and then, bits of food disappeared from the dinner table, for Tom did not always like what was prepared for him and fairies, after all, must eat too. This, my friends, is how the first fairy came to live in a house, but that is not the end of the story of the Jultomte.
When Christianity came to Sweden in the eleventh century, the Vikings ceased their raids on foreign lands and quietly settled down to a life of farming, but chopping down a tree was now a tradition that father and son did each year.
On Christmas Eve, the Swedish family would decorate the tree with candles, and baubles, and ornaments made of straw and corn husks. The tomte, who had come with the very first tree, was now a very old man. Though old, he was no bigger or taller than a titmouse, possessing a long white beard and a wizened face. The tomte is excited by the arrival of the tree. Unseen he jumps within the brightly decorated boughs remembering for the moment the forest and long ago. The very smallest children who hang the ornaments see the tomte within the trees and they wink at each other.
So it is that the children of the house leave warm milk and porridge out Christmas Eve for the tomte, and the tomte, in exchange, leaves gifts on Christmas Day. And when the children of the house grow up and leave the home, or, God forbid, if the children are ungrateful and leave nothing for the tomte on Christmas Eve, then the tomte returns to the forest and waits for another family.