Monday, December 15, 2014

A village at Christmas

We all know that Christmas is all about children. Sometimes, though, the way it's about children isn't what we expect. That's what's happened to me this Christmas. Several years ago, I took a sudden interest in gingerbread houses at Christmas. Now, among a long list of skills I haven't acquired, baking gingerbread is near the top of the list. Last year, as I recall, the Daughter Person, with perhaps some assistance from my Better Half, made and decorated a wonderful gingerbread house. My major contributions were purchasing much of the candy used for decoration and doing most of the post-Christmas consumption clean-up. This year the Daughter Person, with some assistance from her new husband, the same person who used to be her old boyfriend and former fiancee, has outdone herself and created a whole gingerbread village.

a ginger bread village at Christmas
a ginger bread village at Christmas
Photo by J. Harrington

Those of us who come from New England hold Villages in a special place in our hearts. It was the village that was home to the smithy, that held the village green or commons, where neighbors met and the "shot heard round the world" was fired. New England villages at Christmas, with white clapboard churches looking over the green and a general store across the green, offer a subdued celebration of the season. (Pilgrims for many years had a ban on Christmas celebrations.) Simple candles in windows offer welcome to travelers seeking shelter or food. Excess commercialism and neon lights are mostly missing. The kind of classic simplicity about which I'm waxing nostalgic can be found in a few places in Minnesota. I took a photo of this one yesterday.

classically simple Christmas beauty
classically simple Christmas beauty
Photo by J. Harrington

Between a gingerbread village on the dining room table, and classic simple beauty down the road, Minnesota this Christmas is feeling more and more like "home" to this transplanted New Englander. I continue to derive great pleasure from two of my all time better Christmas presents: a loving Daughter Person, originally presented to me by my Better Half in early December, and a house home in the St. Croix valley. As I recall, we moved into our home just before Christmas time, many years ago. I have also had a few other wonderful presents delivered at this time of year, such as my favorite son, delivered on Christmas day, but that's another posting.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost 

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.