This is the sixth Christmas column I have written and I must confess I do not have much for you. Here it is Christmas afternoon and I sit here hoping for some sort of inspiration. My family gets together on Christmas Eve. We eat a big meal, open gifts and attend church. This year we were happy to share Violet’s gift of some fiddle songs for the congregation. She has been taking fiddle lessons only for a few months and is happy with this new form of music. She has been learning the Suzuki method through the public school system since kindergarten. It’s a great program that encourages the youngsters to feel comfortable performing.
I re-read my previous Christmas columns. Oddly, in 2007 I devoted two weeks to the subject of raising and killing one’s own meat. This year, I was able to dispatch one of my very large meat birds for the holiday table. It weighed eight pounds as it went into the large crockpot. I stuffed the cavity with boatloads of fresh thyme and a half-dozen bulbs of my own garlic. I grew way more than a family can eat in a year, so I replanted quite a bit for next summer. Happily, I didn’t have to haul out a ton of cash. The bulbs from seed companies and/or local nurseries can be pricey.
Indulge me if you please. In 2008 I shared the following:
“About 30 years ago I spent my first Christmas alone. My children had a spend over visit with their father. I was lounging in bed feeling a bit sorry for myself when I heard a ruckus in my kitchen and a loud “hey!” It was Craig Kingsbury with my donkey, Juan. He had apparently been roaming State Road in search of a Christmas pageant, perhaps, when Craig apprehended him. Talk about an eventful morning — removing a 700-pound animal from one’s kitchen in a nightgown with the help of an amused man.
“Captured in Death Valley in the early 1980s, Juan’s ancestors may have been turned loose by the gold miners. He and 500 others were brought by the United States Department of the Interior to Harrisburg, Penn. in tractor trailers to be adopted or turned into dog food.
“They had been destroying the fragile ecosystem of the desert by eating cactus and by turning on spigots to get water at campgrounds and picnic areas. Honestly, I’m not making this up.
“Referred to as government burros, most were adopted. Here’s when my family enters the story. P.T. Barnum so aptly noted, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute.’ Juan’s sole purpose in life was to make us laugh. He did, however, make an occasional appearance at church on Palm Sunday or Christmas. We decided that only our Lord could make him behave.”
During Christmas week in 2009, I was having the same dilemma and mentioned to then seven-year-old Violet about the “rare occasion” of being at a loss for words for the column. She helped by commenting, “Mame, talk about gardening, canaries, the snow, Christmas, sledding, me or how you live your life.”
I began with several paragraphs about sledding as a child in Rew, Penn. We lived high in the mountains and, believe me, there were some death-defying one-mile drops. Age and reason has removed any sense of longing for that kind of thrill.
In both 2009 and 2010, I mentioned snow the week of Christmas. I had forgotten white Christmases so recently in the past.
Every year at this time I mention my chickens and their egg-laying capabilities. Why should 2012 be any different? They lay according to light. The cold has nothing to do with it. For the month of December I was getting, at the most, one egg per day and many times none. This is from 12 organically-fed, free-range chickens. I figure my year’s average costs for a dozen eggs is somewhere in the $30 per dozen range. At any rate, on Christmas day (three days after the solstice and therefore longer days), I was happy to discover three eggs. Isn’t nature wonderful?
By next week at this time, we should be plunging over the so-called fiscal cliff. Actually, it is probably true for all of us. Those pesky credit card bills will be arriving.
The happiest of New Year’s to all.