Christmas 2022: We’re Old Enough to Do What We Want

William the Cat on Christmas Day. He snuffled wrapping paper, snuffled a box, sunned himself, and went to bed. He has a schedule and sticks to it.

Full disclosure: On Christmas Eve, I stayed up so late wrapping gifts that I fell asleep in my chair on Christmas afternoon. There weren’t many gifts, but I have poor manual dexterity. I should not be left alone in a room with a roll of Scotch tape.

David napped some, too, but that’s normal. He rises daily at 3:30 a.m. to feed William. William sees to it. An insulin-dependent diabetic, he must have his meals on schedule. Small meals, because he’s overweight and also likes to eat often. He designed the schedule. If he doesn’t eat on time, he tries to chew the carpet in the corner outside of our bedroom. We put a mat there so he can’t get to the carpet, but he claws up the mat. Hearing him, David gets out of bed and follows instructions.

After wrapping presents, I stayed up to put out William’s gift: a quilt. I bought it two apartments ago for David. My “Monet’s waterlilies” bedspread, beautiful in its day, was on its last legs. Intuiting that David didn’t want waterlilies or anything else girly, I looked for a lightweight quilt and found one advertised on Facebook. I know, I know . . . But the quilt had cats on it, and he’s a cat person, worse than I am. It’s cute, in a garish, ugly sort of way. In a past life, I’d have called it horrible. But it was a novelty, sort of a joke. And David and I are old enough to do what we want.

 

Anyway, I ordered one, queen-sized. When it didn’t come timely, I emailed the vendor and received a reassuring reply. The quilt soon followed. Before Christmas. Modified rapture! I took it upstairs and put it on the bed. It was exactly what I ordered. It fit perfectly on top of my queen-sized mattress. Corner to corner to corner to corner.

By that time, the vendor’s website had closed for orders; I couldn’t even double-check the dimensions of the quilt I’d ordered. I didn’t bother to email. I consoled myself with the thought that the maker was probably foreign and didn’t know a queen-sized quilt should hang down beyond the foot and sides (and head) of the mattress.

Consolation, however, has its limits. I hid the quilt in the cedar chest.

Last week–an epiphany–I realized William wouldn’t notice the truncation. I got it out and placed it in front of the patio door. He didn’t object to the smell of cedar, just lay down and rolled over to expose his soft underbelly to the sunbeam. David gave him a hairy, feathery thingy and broke out a new peacock feather to replace the one he’s almost destroyed, and probably eaten.

I received some lovely gifts, too: among them, a set of novels--Ivanhoe, Emma, The Scarlet Letter, Treasure Island, and Little Women–that double as coasters; a small typewriter that doubles as a phone holder (to keep my phone from sliding down inside my recliner and resisting extraction);  a hedgehog, the spit-and-image of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggywinkle, that doubles as a mug; and a tin of sardines, the best I’ve ever eaten. They’re made of French chocolate. I’m trying to make them last. So far most of them have survived for forty-eight hours.

I won’t describe the gifts I gave David. Suffice it to say that most either plug in, are rechargeable, or run on batteries. They came with manuals, which David reads before trying to operate them. Another is for organizing batteries.

And that is the story of Christmas morning 2022. At noon we reprised our Thanksgiving fare–ice cream.

That may be another reason we napped afterward.

But we’re old enough to do what we want.

Beware This Boy

 

Spirit of Christmas Present: Will you profit by what I’ve shown you of the good in most men’s hearts?

Ebenezer Scrooge: I don’t know. How can I promise?

Spirit: If it is too hard a lesson for you to learn, then learn this lesson.

Scrooge: Spirit are these yours?

Spirit: They are man’s. They cling to me for protection from their fetters. This boy is ignorance. This girl is want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy.

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Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols, and newer customs such as Christmas trees. He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth and by the Christmas stories of other authors, including Washington Irving and Douglas Jerrold. Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged School, one of several establishments for London’s street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a selfish man to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story. There is discussion among academics as to whether this was a fully secular story, or if it is a Christian allegory.

Published on 19 December, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve; by the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released. Most critics reviewed the novella favourably. The story was illicitly copied in January 1844; Dickens took legal action against the publishers, who went bankrupt, further reducing Dickens’s small profits from the publication. He went on to write four other Christmas stories in subsequent years. In 1849 he began public readings of the story which proved so successful he undertook 127 further performances until 1870, the year of his death. A Christmas Carol has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages; the story has been adapted many times for film, stage, opera and other media.

Author William Thackeray “wrote that A Christmas Carol was ‘a national benefit and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.'”

~ Wikipedia

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Images

“Ignorance and Want” by John Leech, from the original edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,1843. {{PD-US-expired}} Via Wikipedia

Charles Dickens in 1842, the year before A Christmas Carol was written, by Francis Alexander. {{PD-US-expired}}

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A Christmas Carol (1951), Alistair Sim

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The Melody Maids at Christmas, 1967

The Prairie Lea High School Melody Maids perform at the San Marcos Rotary Club meeting, December 1967.

  1. Kathy Waller
  2. Guest
  3. Shirley Hendricks
  4. Sherry Eby
  5. Kathy Pitts
  6. Sally Barber
  7. Patsy Kimball (Director)
  8. Sally Bagley

White lines on the picture cover names that I restored in the list above.

Letter from the North Pole, 1957

A little late for Christmas correspondence, but this Christmas memory is one of my happiest.

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Lacking a fireplace at my house, I mailed my letters to Santa Claus at the post office in downtown Fentress, Texas. I always asked for a lot of presents. The list grew longer after I learned to spell and didn’t have to draw  pictures. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I wanted, but there was no harm in asking.

I don’t remember writing the letter below, and I can’t decipher the drawings. The first must be a doll; I always asked for a doll and always received one–my mother loved dolls. The green thing next to it has what looks like wheels and might be a doll buggy, but I already had one of those. I wheeled my dolls in it, and also two of my puppies.

Regarding the things that look like nightgowns, tee-shirts, and pajamas, I am flummoxed. I usually received clothing, but not because I’d asked Santa for it. I already had a Davy Crockett outfit, complete with coonskin cap, and who could ask for more? I didn’t expect him to load down his sleigh with boring necessities like sweaters and underwear. 

One year the most precious and most memorable gift arrived early: During his busiest time of the year, Santa Claus took time to reply to my letter. 

As proof, I’m posting not just his letter but the envelope it came in as well. Judging from the postmark and the reference to Sputnik, I had just turned six.

It takes a lot of stamps to get a letter from the North Pole to Texas.

It also helps when your Uncle Joe is the postmaster.

 

 

The Road to Bethlehem

THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM

If as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again things;
If we consider ourselves so important that we must fill
Every moment of our lives with action;
When will we have the time to make the long slow journey
Across the burning desert as did the Magi;
Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds;
Or to brood over the coming of the Child as did Mary?
For each one of us there is a desert to travel,
A star to discover,
And a being within ourselves to bring to life.

~ Author Unknown

Casper (name)

Journey of the Magi (1902) by James Tissot. Public domain. Via Wikipedia.

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“The Road to Bethlehem” appears on other websites, where it’s attributed to Anonymous. If you know who wrote it, please share the name and, if possible, other documentation, in a comment, so I can give the poet credit for his creation and can search for copyright information. Until I know more, I will assume the poem is in the public domain. If it’s under copyright, I’ll delete it.

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Find “The Road to Bethlehem” on these pages:

http://macrina-underthesycamoretree.blogspot.com/2009/12/desert-star-emerging-life.html
http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2010/11/advent-prayer-and-poems-i.html