If you've read my blog for long, you know I'm one of those people who revel in the festivals of autumn and winter from Halloween through New Year's Day. Sort of a natural treatment for seasonal affect disorder which, knock on wood, doesn't seem to be a problem for me. The business and fun distracts from the shortening daylight hours as decorations in warm tones are added layer upon layer. Yellow warms to orange giving way to riotous warm reds that burst into golden flames in the form of tiny lights bedecking evergreens. Christmas is a golden time, full of warmth and love, candle light, flames in the fireplace (use your imagination) all reflected in the tinsel and glitter. Imaginary beings of all sorts dance about, making toys, riding sleighs, doing whatever it is that trolls and gnomes do. The magic can bring out the child in even the hardest hearts. Even wars themselves have stopped, if ever so briefly. Linus's voice reciting Luke 8 brings a tear every time!
Now we are well into January, a silver time of year in my mind. It's beautiful, frosty, and cold. The light increases and we look forward to spring and look at the garden for signs of rebirth. The light is reborn, the fire-eating dragon is now chasing the giant fireball higher and higher into the sky. If we've made new years resolutions, they're either well underway or broken, and the Christmas bills await payment. The spell of holding the light inside is gone and reality has set in.
Ann Weems, in her poem "Boxed" says, in part:
"I must admit to a certain guilt
about stuffing the Holy Family into a box
in the aftermath of Christmas.
It's frankly a time of personal triumph when,
each Advent's eve, I free them (and the others)
from a year's imprisonment
boxed in the dark of our basement..."
...And this year, when it's time to pack the figures away,
we'll be more careful that the Peace and Goodwill
are not also boxed for another year!"
Another Ann Weems for you:
"Into the wild and painful cold of the starless winter night
came the refugees,
slowly making their way to the border.
The man, stooped from age or anxiety,
hurried his small family through the wind.
Bearded and dark, his skin rough and cracked from the cold,
his frame looming large in spite of the slumped shoulders;
He looked like a man who could take care of whatever
came at them
from the dark.
Unless, of course, there were too many of them.
One man he could handel...two, even...,
but a border patrol...
they wouldn't have a chance.
His eyes, black and alert,
darted from side to side, then over his shoulder,
then back again forwerd.
Had they been seen?
Had they been heard?
Every rustle of wind, every sigh from the child,
sent terror through his chest.
Was this the way?
Even the stars had been unkind-
had hidden themselves in the ink of night
so that the man could not read their way.
Only the wind . . . was it enough?
Only the wind and his innate sense of direction. . . . .
What kind of a cruel judgment would that be,
to wander in circles through the night?
Or to safely make their way to the border
only to find the authorities waiting for them?
He glanced at the young woman, his bride.
No more than a child herself,
she nuzzled their newborn, kissing his neck.
She looked up, caught his eye, and smiled.
Oh, how the homelessness had taken its toll on her!
Her eyes were red, her young face lined,
her lovely hair matted from inattention,
her clothes stained from milk and baby,
her hands chapped from the raw wind of winter.
She'd hardly had time to recover from childbirth
when word had come that they were hunted,
and they fled with only a little bread,
the remaining wind,
and a very small portion of cheese.
Suddenly, the child began to make small noises.
The man drew his breath in sharply;
the woman quietly put the child to breast.
Fear . . . long dread-filled moments. . . .
Huddled, the family stood still in the long silence.
At last the man breathed deeply again,
reassured they had not been hears.
And into the night continued
Mary and Joseph and the Babe."
So into the boxes they go, the decorations, the creches, the spicy fragrances and golden candlelight.
And out comes silver and cold reality.