Solstice was lovely, except for the nap-related hiccough in the middle of Saturday. Friday night we did a mini-ritual with Liam, talking about how it was the longest night of the year, so we would use the candle to help the sun find its way back through the dark. He tried to blow out the candle. Perhaps I reinforced the birthday candle-extinguishing a bit too much.
We also gave him his ornament to hang on the tree, which in retrospect was a mistake. I’d chosen a Lightning McQueen ornament, and he certainly loved it. He loved it so much that he cried to hold it and play with it once it was up, despite being reminded that he had other McQueen cars among his toys.
After he was in bed, HRH and I ordered sushi from a new place (and will do so again and again and again, it was excellent!) and decorated the tree. By the end of the evening we knew we’d created a new tradition: decorate the tree Solstice eve, with sushi afterwards. The moment we get the 2008 calendar, it will be written in.
The boy got up the next morning and gasped and clapped at the tree, saying “It so pretty!”. Then we went out and did a humongous grocery order. Usually HRH and I hate grocery shopping because of all the oblivious people, but this experience was calm, relaxed, and even fun. Everyone around us seemed to be in a good mood for once. Not counting the pennies as we filled the basket was certainly a factor as well.
Once home, we put everything away and made lunch for Liam… who caught sight of his ornament on the tree and had a fit when we told him yet again that he couldn’t play with it. We struggled with the crying and thrashing until he calmed enough to read pre-nap books, but then he cried again when I left the room. This left us an hour behind schedule, as I had a main dish to make for our co-coven Yule gathering that afternoon, and we realised that the boy’s monitor was unplugged in his room, so we needed to wait till he was asleep to slip in and switch it on. We ended up joining the others upstairs forty-five minutes late, which wasn’t as bad as we’d feared because someone else was later than we were due to work issues. (Doing the math, that means the boy’s nap happened two hours late.) (And yes, we took the ornament off the tree and put it away. Out of sight, out of mind. The poor kid’s two and a half; leaving it there was cruel.)
We had a nice, relaxed, and cosy Yule gathering. The cookie and gift exchange was fun, and the food was terrific. The boy joined us around four and had his own present to open, drank tea, played cars on the floor with a very willing victim, was gentle with the cats, and said thank you a lot. The Yule ritual was simple and warming, and I’m sharing the central quote that was used. It’s from the tenth and final section of T.S. Eliot’s Choruses from ‘The Rock’.
O Light Invisible we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision.
O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning.
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,
The twilight on silent pools at batflight,
Moonlight and starlight, owl and moth light;
O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!
We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,
The light of altar and sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at night,
And lights directed through coloured panes of windows,
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!
Later in the poem there’s another set of lines that I think are also important.
And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.
Eliot is one of my favourite poets. It’s always a treat to unexpectedly hear his words.
HRH and the boy are out back shifting snow in the backyard. The plan is for HRH to clear a place for Liam to play, which was impossible as there was a metre of snow from fence to fence. Liam, however, waved cheerily at me and said, “Bye, Mama! I going to build a castle!”
When they come in, there will be Solstice stockings to open with the upstairs neighbours, and brunch. Then I’m heading out to pick up two or three last-minute things (why can we not find Liam’s stocking anywhere?), and HRH is taking his turn out while the boy naps, to get a variety of frozen nibbly things at M&Ms and drinkables at the liquor store.
And then, I think we will be set, apart from a complete house-cleaning on Monday morning. Then my parents arrive in town, and the next stage of the seasonal festivities begin.