Wednesday 14 December 2011

Thoughts on Christmas happenings . . .

Way back when . . . in the olden days when I was a child still at school, (in the younger grades) most of the month of December was a flurry of preparation for the annual School Christmas Concert. This was one of the highlights of the year, and very important to everyone. Girls all vied with each other for the coveted roll of Mary . . . and boys all vied with each other to be one of the select few that had nothing to do but stand in the back row of the choir, pinch each other and make faces at the audience. All month long, lines would be practiced, songs would be memorized and sung, and readings read over and over again . . . all in preparation for the big night.

Back at the home front, mother's were busy sewing and fitting costumes . . . on top of all of their other Christmas preparations, and many evenings were spent in helping us children to memorize the things we had to do, say or sing. One year I had to recite a poem called "Jest Fore Christmas," by Eugene Field. The first verse went like this:

Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl -- ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes curls an' things that's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake --
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for belly-ache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

Now, I don't know why I was picked to memorize this poem. I didn't even remotely resemble a boy with my long dark curls and feminine graces. I expect they couldn't get a boy to do it. Anyways, I memorized it. There were five long verses and my mother worked with me night after night helping me to memorize it.

When the night came I shone. Rising to the occasion, I recited the whole thing, perfectly . . . complete with hill billy smart alecky boy voice, accent and intonations. I was always a bit of a ham. Another year I had to recite "Twas The Night Before Christmas" . . . and if I recall correctly, I did a good job with that as well. You can see I have always loved poetry and recitation.

It was a special time. There was an element of expectant excitement in the air for the whole month of December, and not just because Santa Claus was preparing to visit treasures upon us all . . . the school Christmas pageant was special to each one of us, child and teacher alike. It was always a real family occasion. On the appointed night, parents, grandparents, cousins, Aunts and Uncles all vied for coveted space up near the stage at the front of the school auditorium so that they could hear and see everything. There would be standing room only, and it would start to fill up at least an hour before the show. You'd have to be there really early to get a good seat.

Source: via Elise on Pinterest

I can remember walking to the school in the cold night air . . . my breath puffing out in cloudy bursts of icy steam . . . the snow squeaking and crunching beneath my brown rubber galoshes, and feeling all excited with the promise of what was to come . . . a bit giddy with nerves at what I was about to accomplish. All the hustle and bustle backstage, the murmurs of the audience waiting out front, the excited voices of the children as they awaited the coming spectacle . . . the hurried last minute instructions of the teachers . . . these all added to the wonder and magic of the evening. What a wondrous time it was!!! I am so very grateful for those memories.

My kids did have Christmas Concerts. The older few were able to participate in ones that seemed more like the ones of my own childhood, but in the later years . . . by the time my younger ones were going through school, the annual event had disintegrated into a Festival of Lights concert . . . fear of offence having changed the very fabric of all that had been sacred and special and looked forward to all the year through. There was no longer any room at the Inn . . . and no place for the Saviour.

Gone were the special songs and carols and the special nativity at the end, only to be replaced with songs about Santa, Elves and fairy magic. There was still standing room only . . . and you still had to get there pretty early, but the same spirit just didn't seem to be there . . . or maybe that was only because I had been looking through the rose coloured glasses of the past . . .

I think we have lost something in our eagerness not to offend, to be politically correct in all things. In our rush to make sure that peoples of other nations and faiths are not left out, we have lost a huge part of ourselves . . . and it does make me sad. I am not against anyone, loving all peoples . . . but I do think that if we are not careful, eventually all that has helped our country to be the great country that it is . . . the traditions, the ceremony, the strength and nationality of the people, the pride of a nation . . . it will all slowly disappear to be replaced with who knows what. We don't know who we are anymore . . . and what's more, most don't seem to care. Christmas has dissolved into an excuse to get a few more days off work, a reason for a big drunken binge and a flurry of spend, spend, spend.

We seem to have lost the whole reason for the season . . . which is kind of sad really . . . I don't know why there can't be room for all sentiments and reasons to celebrate. Why not have concerts which celebrate all aspects of the Holiday season . . . Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and the Birth of the Saviour???

Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky. Do you think???

I've got my fasting blood test this morning and then Todd and I are going to go and visit an elderly member of our church Ward that doesn't get out much these days. We've been planning on visiting him for weeks now and are only now just getting around to it. The time just keeps flying by and I have found that if we don't make a special effort to get these things done, they just don't get done.

A little something that I did yesterday afternoon . . .

A close up of the detail on the girl and bunny. I like the stars . . . they were done with Martha Stewart Glitter. I was surprised they showed up actually! I had my fingers crossed! Of course as usual it is available as a card or a print.

Here's a tasty winter pudding that will be sure to satisfy your family. Todd loves it. He has his with custard . . . I prefer mine with ice cream! It's the North American in me I think. ☺

*Plum Streusal*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

I love this warm pudding. Over here in the UK dessert is calling pudding. This is comfy and delicious. Serve with lashings of cream, custard or ice cream!

1 large egg
1/2 cup light muscovado sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
40 small purple plums, sliced in half and pitted

Streusal Topping:
1/2 cup light muscovado sugar
2 TBS plain flour
3 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS chinese five spice powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly butter a 9 inch square glass dish and set it aside.

Cream together the butter and the muscovado sugar. Beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until smooth. It will be a loose batter.

Mix together the topping ingredients , the sugar, flour, five spice powder and cloves. Add the walnuts and melted butter, mixing until crumbly.

Place half the plums in the buttered baking dish. Pour half the batter over. Top with half the streusal topping. Repeat once more, ending up with streusal on top.

Bake in the heated oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown. Serve warm with custard or vanilla ice cream.

Cooking over in The English Kitchen today a delicious assortment of alternative Christmas Lunch Mains! (Part 1)

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