Last year was the first year I had this fake little tree. Errol and I always had real trees, we both loved it. But life goes on and one can't quite cope with all that any more. So this year, I took out the little tree from K-mart and decorated it with a few of my remaining ornaments. Only Swedish ones, everything else went to the Hospital Guild thrift store.
Instead of displaying Christmas cards everywhere, I put them in my bowl.
I really should have removed my dirty copper pots. Or not posted this at all, but I so love that Faith photo bombed the picture that I just had to post it. I wonder what she's looking at here. The copper pots belonged to my grandmother, who actually cooked with them. When she was old, and her life was modern and easier, one entire wall in her large kitchen was taken up by all her copper pots, pans, and baking dishes. Always freshly polished and shiny. They will get done before Christmas, grandma, I promise.
Christmas began last Friday, when I went with some friends to hear the Tehachapi Symphony Chorus perform three selections from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and then, after the intermission, a glorious rendition of Handel's Messiah.
My Swedish goat. In our home, we had one just like it under the tree. In Sweden, home of many reindeer, Santa leaves them alone and travels with goats or one goat maybe, not sure.
Tomorrow, Mary is hosting a luncheon for the ladies in the crochet group. I'm looking forward to that. Then I will see relatives and friends on the weekend.
Some small Swedish goblins or tomtar, as they are called there. The Santa my grandfather made well over 100 years ago. My mom and dad celebrating what may well have been their first Christmas together. A small plate, a gift from my cousin Anders.
In Sweden, Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve and Rachael has spent many Christmas Eves first with both Errol and I and later with me. But not this year, so I have a strong feeling that I want to be alone, just to think about things. As you get older, time moves at an explosive speed. Even when you live in a desert mountain canyon with nothing much to do ~~ not true, always much to do here. So taking time out for reflection, I believe is a very good thing.
Gifts from my friends Bill and Judy, from many Christmases ago when we all worked at UCLA and Bill was the best boss ever and Judy such a good friend. They still are friends of course, and I hope to see them in the spring. It's a shame the ornament is not clear, it's just gorgeous.
Then I will, weather permitting, spend Christmas Day with my niece Monique, her husband Kenny, and their two daughters Jasmine and Jacqueline. They live in Lancaster, which is about 45 miles through the high desert from here. Many storms are coming in from the Pacific and if it snows, I will stay home. Hope it won't because, after all, Christmas is for kids and I would so love to spend some fun and loving time with them.
One hundred and ten ~ years ago today, my mom was born in Stockhom, Sweden. In those days, the capital city was small and as my dad was born there also, this is pretty rare. They met on a tennis court, married late, which was also unusual in those days, and I so wish I could end this with saying that they lived happily ever after.
I know their early years were good, I have many happy pictures of myself and my brother as babies and giggling toddlers.
Then in 1947, my sister was born with the most severe form of Down Syndrome. My dad found himself unable to deal with the emotional part of this, the part that should have been loving and supportive. He oversaw the financial care of my sister after she was placed in care for children with developmental issues, but the rest, the love and support my mom needed, the visiting, the loving his daughter, he was unable to give.
At home we never talked about her, only my mom visited her. When I became old enough to understand something was wrong at home, I became the support my mom so badly needed. We would go together and visit my sister, who, while she did not understand who we were, knew we were special. And I fell in love with her, she was such a joy. Her name was Ann-Marie, but her caregivers affectionately called her Ammi. She was supposed to die in her 20s they said. Well, she died in 2005, at the age of 58.
I never confronted my father, I never asked why, and it took me years, until the 1970s and a very good psychologist, to finally work through my feelings and forgive my dad.
I have no idea why I'm sharing this with you guys, it just sort of came pouring out. I'm not upset about it any longer, I guess that today, on my mom's birthday, I just wish my parents years together had been happier.
But after many more tragic years with my brother's addiction and death, and me far away, my mom met an old sea captain at the assisted living place. They got married and had a few happy years together. And for that, I am grateful.
I know just about everyone has read this post in one reiteration or another. Last year, I said: This is what I posted back in 2014: Many of you have read my Sankta Lucia posts in prior years. This time, I decided to combine the 2012 and 2013 posts and add some background to the Sankta Lucia customs in Sweden. If you read this for the first time, I hope you will enjoy learning about Saint Lucy and the tradition of the Festival of Light celebrations held in Sweden on her Saint's Day.
Throughout history, people in the Nordic countries have celebrated light in the dark and cold of the approaching winter solstice.
In the old calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year. It was also the most dangerous. A night when animals could speak and fairies, trolls, and giants roamed the forests. In the countryside, young people would dress up in costumes and go from house to house, singing songs, eating and drinking with their neighbors. The custom of a Lucia dressed in white was first recorded in 1764, but didn't become popular until the 19th century.
This old tradition continues today. On December 13, Sankta Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden with festivals of light across the country. And, at the darkest time of year, people are reminded that our earth will soon begin to turn toward the light of spring.
According to tradition, the eldest daughter in the family, wearing a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles, brings coffee and Lucia buns (lussekatter) to her parents in bed.
Yes, that's me as Sankta Lucia with a crown of real candles on my head! (I did have a wet napkin on my hair, underneath the crown.) The girl and her court of younger siblings sing the old Neapolitan song Santa Lucia in a translation that celebrates light coming to this dark season. This tradition continues in Swedish homes today, but with battery operated candles, I'm sure.
Sankta Lucia is crowned in schools, churches, and communities all over Sweden and processions are held with the Queen of Light leading her court.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sankta Lucia, or Saint Lucy, was a Sicilian woman who was martyred in the year 304 AD. A common story suggests that she would secretly bring food to persecuted Christians who lived in the catacombs of Rome and, in order to keep her hands free, she wore a crown of candles on her head. Another legend tells us that she consecrated her virginity to God through pious works. After she refused to marry her betrothed, a pagan man, he became infuriated and reported her to the authorities. When guards came to arrest her, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they couldn't move her, even with a team of oxen. The guards then gathered materials around her and set them on fire, but she didn't burn. In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy's eyes are gouged prior to her execution and she is often depicted in art carrying her eyes on a tray.
Saint Lucy, by Domenico Beccafumi, in a 1521 recasting of an iconic Gothic image. It was said that Saint Lucy was tortured with eye gouging, hence this rather disturbing image. The picture, as well as some of the history of Saint Lucy, are courtesy Wikipedia.
Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind. Her name is derived from Lux, Latin for light, and she is presented with light in art and literature. Saint Lucy is one of only seven women, aside from the Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Note:
The coffee cups I carry in the picture above, belonged to my maternal grandmother and they now have a home here with me.
I love this rusty old wheelbarrow from Italy. The way it sits there in the sun, ready to be loaded up with wood. My personal rust photographer, Jane, sent me this picture.
It's interesting, I haven't felt inspired to write a story for a long time now, but looking at this old thing, sitting in the midst of all that wood, started my imagination working again. Oh, well......
When it's time to go to bed, Faith stands at the side of the bed and looks at me. She doesn't respond to just come, I also have to pat the bed with my hand. Then she jumps up on her "blankie." I tell her, "go to your end of the bed." This she does, and soon goes to sleep.
I usually wake up sometime in the middle of the night for a bathroom trip. This is where I find Faith. If her head is not on my pillow, it's only because she knows she's supposed to stay on her blanket.
"Goodnight sweet girl," I say before I go back to sleep.
In the morning she has turned around and come a bit closer.