Sunday, December 25, 2016


Merry Christmas!

It's 10 a.m. and not a creature is stirring. This is the first time in 36 years I've had a silent Xmas morning. My large son is upstairs asleep, and Anna and her family are across town opening presents; they'll come at lunchtime. Eli just called; when he was last here, I bought him, at his request, a little tree of his own. "Santa watered my tree," he told me, "and put on candy canes!" That Santa, what a nice guy. Anna told me how proud she was of her older son. She'd told him Santa would leave a present at the foot of his bed that he could open by himself so his parents could have a bit more sleep. But when she got up, she found him sitting patiently on the sofa with the wrapped present in his lap. He was afraid, he told her, opening it would make too much noise.

Be still my beating heart.

I am so profoundly grateful to be alive. Yes, there is much horror in the world, a newly darkened place. But we're here. We're here with open, thankful hearts.

Last evening, I lit the menorah candle and then went to Riverdale Farm to help produce the annual Babe in the Barn pageant, which was its usual rocky and wonderful self. As we were helping the cast to dress, one of the other producers cried, "There's a bag of halos missing!" Several angel wings also. We had a polite argument about location with the farm manager, lost, and ended up standing on the back of a small green tractor for the beginning segment. It worked - why not? At another point, the choir of two, which was supposed to launch the crowd of over 200 into "The First Noel," was not there - they'd already moved on to the next stage. I found out at 5.30 that the woman who was going to be the orator, reading the bible passages, had dropped out. So the orator and the narrator were me and my neighbour Gina, both of us half-Jewish. One of the wise men is not only Jewish but a Conservative candidate for local government. And yet there we all are together, singing carols, admiring the beautiful baby surrounded in the barn stalls by sheep, goats and cows, and loving our neighbours.

A blessing. Or as the Chosen People say, a mitzvah. There's an elderly oriental woman who comes every year, perhaps homeless or nearly, poorly dressed and mentally ill. She stands as close to the speakers as she can, and she sings, her eyes glowing. If for nothing else, the pageant is worth it, for her. But no, there in the crowd, standing just behind our greatest fan, I see another of my neighbours, a wealthy businessman who has never been particularly friendly, his eyes soft, singing.

Okay, enough of this merriment. Time to get dressed and start to cook. There's a turkey to stuff, brussels and green beans to prepare, potatoes to peel, a table to set. It's white out there, a lot of snow, but mild - perfect weather.

I wish you and yours, whatever you celebrate, a day of peace.
P.S. With thanks to Lani, who read my blog post from a few days ago and wrote, "Beth got Knotten for Christmas!"
Listening to the Messiah. "How beautiful are the feet of them who preach the gospel of peace." Oh my God, yes. More citizens with beautiful feet, please.
And now giving thanks to brother turkey, who gave up his life that we might feast.

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