Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memories. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Get Ready for Twelfth Night

I first blogged about Twelfth Night in 2015. Here is the post, updated a bit.

Most of my little celebrations are just me and the pets. Back when my first husband was in graduate school, we had so many friends (I thought), and Twelfth Night was loads of fun, with loads of company. *sigh*

But don't let a lack of comrades stop your enjoyment of holidays or events! Enjoy them yourselves. Draw memories of good times to yourself, and enjoy. With COVID, we are having to learn new ways to celebrate.

For Twelfth Night, lay in a goodly supply of nuts to crack, especially walnuts, and make a batch of spiced cider or wassail.  If you have the money, get some little pots of ivy to place around the den, or get any houseplants, really. 

WHEN is Twelfth Night? It's the evening of January 5th, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th. The Epiphany marks the end of Christmas (in most churches) and is 12 days after Christmas ("the Twelfth Night"). The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" harkens to Twelfth Night.

If you can, have a smorgasbord: Cheese, meats, crackers, boiled eggs, carrot sticks, dip, jams.

Where possible, have a fire built in your fireplace. Have it burning brightly once it's dark out. Twelfth Night is a LONG party - it goes to past midnight. If you have no fireplace, and you can SAFELY do so, have a bunch of candles lighted, preferably up high so no one is endangered. If you are having a bonfire, get it ready. If you have no access to actual fire, play one of the fireplace videos on your laptop!

During the evening, before the stroke of midnight, feed the old greenery, twigs, cinnamon sticks, etc. from Christmas into the fireplace or bonfire, while snacking and talking. If you have a bonfire, I'd suggest throwing it all on at one go, and getting back inside to get warm. If you are lucky enough to have some teens at your fest, they will probably be "firebugs" and love to keep going outside and throwing things onto the bonfire.

If you are inside and have access to the fireplace, it's fun to throw the things into the fire a bit at a time. My favorite thing to throw in is a pinecone. If I bought cinnamon cones before Christmas, I throw them, too, since the scent's gone.

If you have no access to a bonfire or hearth fire, just throw the old pine boughs and greenery out of the front door! I just have a few sprigs of juniper and yew left this year, and some berries from a nandina bush. 

Now, Twelfth Night is not for the faint of heart. It's a time for telling ghost tales and odd happenings. In olden days, so was Christmas Eve, don't you know. So let your tongue run freely as to strange sights and olde stories (I have a million such), and if the feeling moves you, tell some new tales that pop into your mind. The key is to tell tales of wondrous happenings without being gruesome or awful or non-Christian - kind of like the "Sleepy Hollow" story.

If you will be celebrating alone, as this Olde Dame must, watch an old movie or read a book of strange tales (like The Hobbit, Rip Van Winkle, or even an autobiography of long ago, such as A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska which has many strange happenings).

As midnight nears, continue to crack open the nuts and eat them, throwing the shells into the fire. Pop popcorn and salt it well for luck. Talk or think of the year ahead, and sing olde songs. Remember olde times and olde friends and don't let the fire or candles go out before midnight.

Now, remember the broom you bought a few days back? Well, get it ready. Get your OLD broom ready, too. At midnight, you are going to THROW that old broom out your back door, bristles first. That broom is now your "yard broom" and its indoor days are over. It took last year's regrets and errors with it. Out they went. Take your NEW broom and draw it thrice across the front door threshold, drawing in luck. 

If you have guests, give each a little bag or jar of salt (luck) and a bag of walnuts (representing gold nuggets) to take with them as they leave.

I often stay up most of the night, just dozing on the futon or in a recliner.

If you can't manage Twelfth Night, don't worry: CANDLEMAS is another very olde celebration. It has you taking down all decorations by February 1st, and runs much the same way as Twelfth Night, but with even more plants to be placed around in anticipation of spring.  

As you know, of course, Twelfth Night is just done in fun, and is merely a fanciful attempt to recreate some of the holidays of the very early Church.

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame  


Monday, May 31, 2021

Sunflowers on Memorial Day

Tall sunflowers blooming in summer in las cruces

These sunflowers are standing tall and still in the heat, as if they know of the solemnity of Memorial Day.

"All gave some. Some gave all."

pretty sunflowers in a field

My father was an ensign in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Beyond dirt poor and extremely thin, he borrowed as many coins as he could from friends and filled his pockets, so that he could "make weight" and enlist. His first non-home haircut, his first train ride, his first venture out of a small town in Louisiana, all courtesy of the Armed Forces. 

His first swimming lesson: He could jump, or he could be tossed from, a high platform into the deep pool below, in San Diego. After seeing a few thrown off the diving platform, he jumped, despite his intense fear of heights.

In the mess hall in San Diego, the sailors were served two "alligator pears" each at every meal. One of his buddies bit into his, right through the peel, then spat it out, quick. "It's bitter," he said. Not having seen them before, or even having heard of them, he, like many other country boys, threw them out, untouched. 

My father loved to tell that story. "I threw away a fortune in avocados," he would say, ruefully. "If only I had known."  

Something else courtesy of Uncle Sam: A Harvard education, free, gratis, no strings attached. And no say in it, either. You signed up, you took their tests, you went where they said to go. My father wanted to study engineering and serve on a ship. No, said the Navy. You are going to be an actuary.

I do not glorify war, but I do not want the wars forgotten. But as the history teacher at our school was explaining, the wars of our fathers and the wars during our youths will be as big an abstraction to today's students as the War of 1812 is to us. It will carry no emotional import, even second-hand import. Although I was not yet born, the tales of WWII are vivid in my mind, were vivid in my childhood; part of it, ever-present, really. 

His remarks really distressed me. "It's how it is," he said. "Just remember, as long as you can. Just remember." 

sunflowers memorial day

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Games of Childhood

Here is a bit of "growing sunshine" to brighten your morning. I think it is called Damianita Daisy. The blossoms are born on short, woody stems, and these plants are always in xeriscapes.

damianita daisy desert low shrub

The comments on the "Toad Catcher" and Mulberry Time posts got me to thinking. It is common now to think children don't play as we used to do. The world is certainly changed, and I can remember when childhood went from quite free to greatly curtailed, from considered safe to considered unsafe, when it went from outside exploring to inside lives, from being raised by family, usually mothers, to spending much of the waking hours in some sort of paid care.

I am not weighing in on judging it all, today. Rearview mirrors and rose-colored glasses are not reliable ways to view the world! What is that grammar joke? "We tend to find the past perfect, and the present tense"? I think both past and present have their good points and their bad. And I also think life is lived forwards, understood backwards.

But the children of today may be playing more old-time games than is realized.

The students at school line up by the front office on their way to the playground. Sometimes I can hear their conversations as they wait to file out. At school, they wear traditional uniforms and walk with their hands behind their backs, and wait with hands still clasped. And they chat about what they are going to be playing. 

Oh, it is so cute, their ongoing games. Last week among the "lower school" it was all talk of being Day Bats. Now, don't ask me, but it seemed to be they are different color bats, of different ranks. They are awake in the day and fix problem situations. I thought it was charming to hear them excitedly speak of moving up to be Blue Bats, or bemoaning dropping back down to an Orange Bat. I think it's based on the rainbow somehow.

When I go get the mail, I see also the little "houses" the even younger kids have created, out of the landscape rocks and the flowerbed bark. 

And I hear the old, old chants from childhood repeated now, fifty years later: Ring Around the Rosey, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, London Bridge. 

Grades 3 through 12 all have jump-ropes, too. The boys are as good as the girls at it. And they play tag a lot of the time. The big kids are not above chasing each other: Flirtation disguised as a slow game of tag.

Some of the kids are bookworms, of course! That was me, nose always in a book. And the students are reading the same series, the "classic" books! The horsey series by Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry; the Little House books; The Borrowers; The Witch of Blackbird Pond; On Your Toes, Suzie; and the late Beverly Cleary's books. All the old favorites are there.

Something I haven't seen, nor do the students seem to know about, is clapping games. Girls played a lot of clapping games at recess, played to a chant, when I was young. I can still recall some of them. Girls and boys alike played table-slapping games clear into college. 

When I was young, we played four-square in the street. It was probably our most favorite game in the preteen years. Mudpies was my absolute favorite as a younger child. We used the little foil tins from pot pies to hold our creations. Pot pies were a weekly meal for many of us, so there were pie tins galore.

The streets of suburbia were thronged with kids in those days! Kids were literally in the streets with the four-square games, or riding bikes, or digging up tar and popping tar bubbles during the summer. There was lots of roller skating and pushing box scooters along the sidewalks. I can, to this day, "skate" my block, remembering the idiocyncracies of every inch of sidewalk, and sometimes at night I return to that long-ago childhood and skate along in a sort of waking dream. I can see each house and recall every neighbor, yet I can not picture my current neighbors' homes in any detail. 

Housing was still being built apace during the Baby Boom, so there were lot-sized gaps along the route, and we'd run across those weedy areas with our skates still on. Skateboarding was not common in our area, and I didn't know of it back then.

Of course, we drew hopscotch on driveways and sidewalks, too, and girls played jacks, but by my childhood, jacks was waning in popularity so I didn't play it often. I was glad; my hands were so tiny I couldn't gather more than three jacks up. To a child's mind, it is important to win, or at least make a good showing.

So take heart; it isn't ALL video games and TikTok now. Some of the old games still survive. Can you recall games of your childhood?