Monday, December 21, 2009

Ringing in the Yuletide: The Many Days of Christmas, Day One

Beth, Didi, and Mr. Parker Hold Up a PresentFor several years, we've toyed with the idea of juggling the holidays a bit and celebrating our Christmas on a date other than 12/25. When you have relatives living in three different states, that can make enjoying the holidays with each group--as well as having time for ourselves--a daunting bit of scheduling wizardry.

Because we have young nieces and nephews on each side of the family, too, that means we're almost certainly on the road come Christmas Day itself--and now that Beth is working her petsitting business, she's of course got many a booking for the most traditional of celebratory dates.

One date that always appealed to both of us was the Winter Solstice. Our wedding anniversary is exactly six months earlier, on the Summer Solstice (most years, anyway), and after all, the holiday season predates Christian times significantly: most civilizations throughout history have marked the longest night of the year and the coming of longer days with celebration. (Don't forget that based on the Bible, Jesus' birth would not have been remotely near December 25th--all Bill O'Reilly's protests aside, it's a historical fact that the Christian church set the date of Christmas deliberately to coincide with existing "pagan" celebrations like Yule and Saturnalia, so how about we put the Saturn back in Saturnalia for a change?)

So we made 12/21 our day of "Collation," which is a ritual Beth's family brought to the holidays based in some sort of Catholic tradition. Collation includes an evening (usually Christmas Eve) of feasting, for us usually hors d'oeuvres such as my Carta di Musica crispy flatbread and various cheeses accompanied by some wine and a few snackable sweets. Both my family and Beth's also have a practice of getting a Christmas Eve present (an "early" in the Foutz/Bottom family canon) or two, so we decided to exchange a few of our gifts on the Winter Solstice in addition to the meal.

John and Didi hold a presentOf course, the Papillons always love gifts and couldn't quite understand that the presents exchanged were for us and not them; they were understandably interested in each package we chose to open.

The evening's gifts included a new burr coffee grinder for Beth (the "coffee slut" if you believe the t-shirt I gave her a couple of Christmases ago), along with a beautiful handmade clay owl I bought from one of my favorite stores in the Denver airport, Colorado Collection--the latter in and of itself a holiday tradition going on five or six years now for me. (In fact, I made a trip connecting through Denver in November entirely so that I could visit the shop for this year's gifts!) Beth gave me a book on fairy houses for our garden, along with a more practical gift in the form of a pocket-lined bedskirt to get our shoes and the like in order.

We've left plenty more gifts for each other for the days to come, as we do indeed expect to celebrate the many days (if not twelve) of Christmas this year.

1 comment:

Sam Taylor said...

From one coffee slut to another, that grinder rocks!