The weekly “little of this, little of that” feature here at Like Mother, Like Daughter! (This will all look and work better if you click on the actual post and do not remain on the main page.)
I write in haste and I’m sure you read in haste!
I do have a few links and I wanted to offer you a thought about celebrating Christmas as a season — so often we are at a loss because, while we may wish to “live differently” as dear Pope Benedict put it, speaking of those who have hope, we don’t always know how.
My friends have amazing ideas and also are blessed with an “education in the past” to help them restore the way of living that we are seeking, little by little*.
So today I thought I’d share (with her permission of course), what my friend Jennifer wrote to me last year (with my encouragement because normally she wouldn’t go on and on this way) about her Twelfth Night celebration with so many friends who are also on the journey. Maybe it will inspire you to keep the season alive!
Last evening was a stellar success! I so wish you and Phil could have joined us. Our effort to stage two of the Wakefield Mystery Plays in our home worked beautifully. “The First Shepherd’s Play” (abridged, by me) starred Geoffrey, Scott, and Benny. Like “The Visitation of the Magi” (Joe, Lucas, and Eamon) , the play features three gift-giving characters: an old-ish one, a middle-aged one, and a young one. Everyone played their part with zeal (particularly John Paul as the Christ Child, or Puck! – it was a little hard to tell the difference!).
We ate, and ate, and ate. After the appetizers (generously supplied by our guests), the first segment of the Shepherd’s Play, and a sung grace, we went to tables High and Low and were served: Shredded Lamb with mint and pomegranate, Pork Pie, Roast Turkey, Spiced Medlar Jelly, Leek and mushroom “hedgehogs”, olives, goat cheese, fig cake, salmagundi (a salad with bitter greens, preserved lemon, apple and fried onion), and bread trenchers (the kids ate from these without plates or cutlery).
Then after “The Visitation of the Magi”, and more singing, we had the annual, ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Pudding, which always gets made on “stirring-up Sunday” in November and never has weird, candied fruit in it. We’ve made it for 20 years and no one has ever tried it and said they didn’t like it. [My tutorial is here and there is certainly still time to make it!] However, it is particularly boozy, perhaps due to its weekly brandy “feeding.” [I just pour brandy over mine and forget it!]
This was when we had the Revels of Christmas (with the party blowers instead of Christmas crackers. So much more fun!). There were also rum balls, cheese-cake from Junior’s in NYC, homemade cookies of several varieties, and white port. (Oh, how exhausting it is to think of!, but how wonderful). [No one person did all of this — it’s the whole community who contribute! If it’s just you, keep it simple with one or two favorite things, at least for this year!]
Then, everyone did stay until the “wee hours”: the younger children made up a play, the older children played music together (they had to politely ask the grown-ups to leave the dining room so that they could use the instruments), the adults visited about all the good books we’ve been reading over the Christmas holiday, and promised to exchange them the next time we met (which was this morning! And we did have an exchange of books.)
I have gone on and on…
But this is what you mean about building family, and culture. What a treasure. What a joy. It seems that “The Twelfth Night” will become (next to the Nativity of St. John the Baptist) the other great feast that we can offer. I can scarcely get enough of it, and can’t wait until next year.
Now, it’s true that her house, while not huge, is perhaps uniquely set up to have revels of this sort (something to think about when we’re house shopping or building, but that’s another post). And she’s not a new mom — these doings are the fruits of many years’ worth of attempts, big and small, and thoughts and prayers and discussions.
Never mind! Do what you can with what you have! A small start this year will be the seed of a wonderful restoration of culture by the time your children are old enough to be thinking of their own family celebrations.
See what you can do!
*The various Mystery Plays (about the Mysteries of Salvation History — Creation, Fall, Incarnation, Redemption, Second Coming, Heaven — not like “whodunit”!) are medieval plays that varied from region to region and presented to the general populace religious truths in whimsical, humorous, and festive ways. I don’t have time to go into them now, but do pursue the links! I am convinced that the real “new evangelization” needs to involve Guilds and big wooden wagons rather than workbooks and programs, but gotta run!
Some links for you!
- In non-Christmas (far from it) news, here is an important article by a pediatrician on the new mass mania/evil sweeping our society, transgender “treatment” — a must read.
- Those great Christmas Carol books that I offered last week are now available for bulk purchase by popular demand and me asking! Do note that the version you can buy in bulk will have a normal, not coil, binding. But as long as there is one that lies flat for the pianist, I think we can manage!
- An American presepio — and a little history of the elaborate crèches that are such a part of Christmas devotions.
- Our age has grown too old for simple Christmas devotions. We insist on being activists and can’t see anymore the value of stopping and resting. We don’t have the capacity for wonder — if we aren’t “accomplishing” something “important” we are convinced that we are wasting time. What’s a little Christmas crèche to the likes of us! Well, here’s a Christmas meditation for you from one of my very favorite theologians, John Saward. He helps us to contemplate the littleness of the very greatest mind the world has ever seen, St. Thomas Aquinas — a giant who was more than willing to be as a little child before The Child, the Incarnate Babe in Bethlehem.
- This meat pie (aka French-Canadian Tourtiere) may have to be on my menu, replacing my sturdy but not elegant one. So pretty!
- On building the culture and on the kind of education that fits our human nature: Don’t miss this excellent review of an excellent book: Russell Hittenger on John Senior and the Restoration of Reality.
- Have you heard of the “Hillbilly Thomists” — Dominican Friars who play fun bluegrass? Check out their new album! Maybe this is the last-minute Christmas gift you’ve been looking for!
From the archives: I wrote about celebrating all twelve days of Christmas — having a Twelfth Night party like Jennifer’s could definitely be the highlight of the festivities!
While you’re sharing our links with your friends, why not tell them about Like Mother, Like Daughter too!
We’d like to be clear that, when we direct you to a site via one of our links, we’re not necessarily endorsing the whole site, but rather just referring you to the individual post in question (unless we state otherwise).