Monday, December 23, 2013
A Little Night Music
Pat always has something up his sleeve. (Last year, for the "end of time" he greeted us at the front door in tux and tails -- if the world was going to end, he was going out in style, he said.) This year, we were just finishing up dinner, when out of the blue, a knock at the door! Enter, Arkadiy Gips, a classically trained violinist who emigrated from the Ukraine in the 1990s, winding up first in New York City and soon playing Russian gypsy music as a backdrop to Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour.
But let's backtrack. The 8 of us had gathered in the late (wet) afternoon for our annual solstice celebration, and the best way ever of kicking off the holidays. That means great girlfriends.
Perhaps a doggie friend.
Something shaken, not stirred.
A beautiful holiday table.
"But May, or her mirthful spirit,
dwelt all the year round at Merry Mount,
sporting with the Summer months,
and reveling with Autumn, and basking in the glow of Winter's fireside.
Through a world of toil and care
she flitted with a dreamlike smile,
and came hither to find a home
amoung the lightsome hearts of Merry Mount."
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
After dinner, we had our traditional gift exchange, and talked and laughed the night away.
The Shortest Day
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away,
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshineblazed awake
They shouted, reveling,
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us -- Listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
-- Susan Cooper