By Jo Manning
I write this a few days before the general mayhem of the Holiday Season: to be on the safe side, to be ready. Outside my window a big birch tree still has most of its leaves, shining now, golden in the sunlight. They didn’t blow away in yesterday’s icy gale, so strong as to almost knock one over. This is, of course the West coast of Canada, still leafy, but predictably stormy. But even though we can’t ‘boast’ snowy, icy streets like those in the East, well, almost never, our weather is nasty enough for us to look forward to Christmas, when we can celebrate the sun’s return, as ancient people did so long ago, with fires and feasts and general goings on, a Saturnalia?
Not quite. Our modern feasting is sanitized in comparison. Here at the Home we will have lights strung around inside and out, and trees that come out of storage once a year, and lots and lots of tinsel. Even some quavering carol singing, our old voices faltering on the high notes. Feasting will be regulation turkey and Christmas pudding, as we do our bit to chase away the demons of darkness.
We look askance at all this. Not the real thing, we say, not at all. But when the time comes to take down the Christmas lights and remove the tinsel, and the fake trees, we miss them, and the artificial cheer they bring.
But now I look out at my birch tree again. It will lose its glory as the sun dips lower on the horizon, but we know the sun will return, and spring will come, and new leaves will burst forth, smelling of growth and hope. This is a given.
Happy New Year!