The first holidays Without Someone are tricky, with reminders of loss peppering the landscape. Who carves the turkey, if Granddad isnâ€™t here? And Mom can step into Grandmotherâ€™s apron when it comes to making pumpkin pies, but what about Great Grandmaâ€™s Christmas Pudding? Should we bother with it? After all, nobody really likes it, but itâ€™s such fun to flame it at the table.
So this year weâ€™re not inundated with six dozen kinds of cookies (all of them made â€œfor the postmanâ€ of course, although he and the newspaper delivery lady and the UPS guy seem to take up a small part of the mountain) but we will be having Great Grandmaâ€™s Christmas Pudding, a steamed wad of carrots, potatoes, and dried fruit that is actually quite tasty when doused with good brandy, set alight (“Ooh, ah!”) and drowned in brandy butter. Although I admit, I didnâ€™t make it in November, as she always did, and I changed the recipe a little (Heresy!)
And because we have a new family member, I have knit my new son-in-law a Christmas stocking. Not, I admit, as fancy as those my mother produced, but the turned heel is even and thereâ€™s not a dropped stitch in sight, and Iâ€™m telling him that this oneâ€™s a trial run, since time was too short for a thousand complicated designs of names and stars and such, carrying threads on the back. Next year, maybe.
So the great ritual of Saturnalia trundles on, with sacrifices and banquets and (donâ€™t you love the nonsense on Wikipedia?)â€”â€œthe customary greeting for the occasion is a “io, Saturnalia!” â€” io (pronounced “yo”) being a Latin interjection related to “ho” (as in “Ho, praise to Saturn”)â€
There was a full moon shining in my west window this morning, and Friday was the Solstice, and tomorrow is Christmas. We are in the depth of winter, here on the northern hemisphere, but weâ€™re turning our faces back towards spring, and light, and warmth.
Io Io Io, everyone.