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Pickle Me This

December 20, 2011

The pieces we've chosen

Hattie prepares to roll out the pastry

Someone asked recently what the reasons are that those of us don’t go to church still make a point of celebrating Christmas. To which I answered that it’s about lighting darkness, about remembering all things that are evergreen, and celebrating the miracle of new life. And so there’s a 7 ft tall balsam fir in our living room, stockings by the fire, and we’ve been baking cookies shaped like stars and crooked snowmen. Gifts are very far from the point, and what gifts there are are most often books. Harriet has asked if Santa not come this year, because she doesn’t like him. “I want my stocking empty,” she kept saying, and we’ll listen so not to traumatize.

We sing Christmas carols, traditional ones and ones by Slade, Wizzard and The Pogues, and this year we’ve told Harriet the Christmas story, because these things are of the culture we’ve come from, and we like stories of all kinds– we recently purchased our own copy of Dick Bruna’s The Christmas Book after reading the library’s copy to near-death. We’re also reading A Christmas Carol together, each of us for the first time, and however familiar the story is from popular culture, it’s a joy to be discovering. In particular since we have a gorgeous big edition with illustrations by Quentin Blake, and although I’m not sure how much Harriet is really getting out of it, she’s taken with Tiny Tim. Kristen den Hartog’s most recent blog post has made me interested in making the film version of the book part of our family holiday tradition.

And oh, tradition, isn’t that at the heart of it? These hooks we hang our lives upon. To be without religion is not be rudderless, I insist upon that. I guess some might resent that we pick and choose the pieces with which we build our life, but the pieces we’ve chosen are chosen with care, and held in reverence.

2 thoughts on “The pieces we've chosen”

  1. Linn says:

    Love hearing about your Xmas traditions, kerry…honoring the solstice, lighting the darkness, and celebrating the evergreen in our lives. Our Christmas includes reading chapters of Dicken’s Christmmas Carol every night week before, a big cookie bake on Christmas eve day (my son and I) -star shaped gingerbread ones to hang on tree and half moon shaped ones (a Polish tradition). Love how the house smells for days…Xmas eve is always at our home for a traditional Polish Wigilia-meaning vigil dinner which consists of 12 courses to reflect 12 disciples, going to mass at beautiful old church across street for us for their children’s choir and mass, getting in our holiday Pjs for games, setting up for Santa and reading Twas the night before bed

  2. Christmas eve, I came back to re-read your post. I of course re-read the entire post but your last paragraph rolls around and around in my heart. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this.

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