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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

Credo quia pulchrum est.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, by
Gerard van Honthorst, ca. 1622.  Click to enlarge.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man . . .

to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, 
to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

The Gramophone Ghana Chorus sings out the good news with joy:


It has been a year of unexpected changes, great and small; and even Christmas is being celebrated differently this year by many people around the world, though the spirit of the season is still evident if one has eyes to see it.  

After a toilsome week of cleaning up the messes left by successive Christmas parties at his school, M.P. rested a bit at home and then got busy once again stringing lights on the front of the house, and decorating the living/dining room with a truckload of abandoned poinsettias he brought home from work.  Now it looks a bit like a Christmas garden in there, considering it was already filled up with all the outside potted plants that we are sheltering indoors for the winter - a couple of them are as tall as I am.

M.P. has also given the main rooms a Christmas cleaning, though not quite as thoroughly as usual, because this year his children and grandchildren are not coming for the annual Yule dinner at Papaw's house; after a good deal of dithering and twittering and what-shall-we-do-ing, the group mind finally settled on each family staying home and cooking for themselves.  Which is a prudent decision for all concerned, old and young; but M.P. had already laid in supplies of Christmas foods that he was not about to let go to waste, including a nice fat duck, and a ham that he produced himself by curing and smoking a piece of ordinary pork loin - which seems a miracle to me.  

So on Monday evening, the day of the winter solstice and, this year, the remarkable Great Conjunction - a fascinating sight in the southwestern sky - M.P. after much cheffing around in the kitchen served up a luscious Yule dinner for just us two, and here are the pics to prove it.  Of course, the proof is in the eating, but you just have to take my word for it that every single bite was deee-licious.

From 5 o'clock:  apricot-glazed ham (so tender it fell apart in cutting); succulent roast duck leg; deep-fried diced parsnips (like potatoes, but slightly sweeter); creamed sweet potatoes; spinach-cheese casserole; and a deep-fried biscuit, crispy outside and oh-so-buttery inside.

Of course, we have been re-heating and re-eating this same meal ever since, delightedly.  But there is more to come from the depths of the pantry and deep freeze:  On Friday M.P. will bestir himself to cook a proper Christmas dinner; then next week, a New Year's dinner; and the week after that, a King's Day dinner, with I hope, a nice King's Cake to top things off.  And your Head Trucker, being also Head Dishwasher of this joint, will do his part to keep kitchen operations rolling along.

Yesterday M.P. spent the whole day boxing and wrapping presents for his progeny (4 adult children, 3 spouses at the moment, and 4 little tykes), including all sorts of fascinating toys and dolls and whaddayacallits that toddle and coo and go root-a-toot-toot.  Later today he will drop them off, and then come back to put up our Christmas tree.  (While he is gone, I will wrap the few presents I got for him.)  On the big day, there will be a family Zoom conference to watch the unwrappings at the various houses, which for parents is the climax of all their endeavors.  How lucky we all are to live in an age of such technological miracles.

And so Christmas is not ruined at all, just a little different this year; I do hope by next Christmas things can get back to the usual routine - busy but comforting in the endless procession of the years.  And I hope all of my truckbuddies are enjoying some Christmas cheer right now - though you may be apart from your loved ones, and perchance even Zoomless, you can still be united in spirit.  And I believe that, come what may in this mortal life, nothing can ever separate us from the eternal Love that moves the stars, and moves our willing hearts, by whatever name you call it.

I am thankful for the quiet good cheer M.P. and I share here in our humble circumstances, with general health and finances stable at the moment; as we have both reflected, it would be a sad thing, growing older, to eat alone day after day.  It's harder to cook for one than for two.  So we celebrate what we have with grateful hearts.  I'll close these rambling thoughts now with some musical selections that sum up the meaning and the joy of Christmas for me.  My prayers go up for peace on this troubled earth and goodwill among men all over the world;  and from our house to all of yours, we send best wishes for a very Merry Christmas.


Tim said...

And a very Merry Christmas to you and M.P., Russ. Thanks for keeping us entertained and informed in your usual erudite manner this difficult year. Presidents and pandemics come and go, but the Blue Truck motors on in a Red State, that, unless it’s my imagination, gets a little bit pinker every year. Stay safe my friend.

Russ Manley said...

And thanks for riding along with me in the Blue Truck all this long way, good chum. Feliz Navidad to you and Partner!

Michael said...

Merry Christmas. Your Christmas table looks beautiful. Here's to a better 2021.

Russ Manley said...

I'll drink to that. Merry Christmas to you, Michael, and all good wishes for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

Davis said...

Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas.

Russ Manley said...

All the same to you, Davis.

sissyblogmilker said...

I forgot to listen to FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN this past Christmas..... thank you for reminding me. I then sought out the Hallelujah chorus on You Tube..... These joyful renditions put this day in perspective. Thank you.

Russ Manley said...

You're very welcome.

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