Thursday, December 30, 2010


On the Tuesday after Christmas my dear cat Golem passed away.  We had been together for almost thirteen years.
He was a special boy.  Not your ordinary cat.  Some animals are like that.

I couldn't say what it was, but he was an uncommon and valued friend.
I feel that our home is not the same.  I will miss him very much.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

winter solstice

In all of our discussions, reading, research and personal history and experience, we've come to the conclusion that the most important part of celebrating festivals and marking the passage and holy days of the year is in the gathering.
This year for Solstice we came together with family and friends for a cookie exchange party and play time with crafts and snacks for the children.  If you've not experienced a cookie exchange before, it's a really lovely holiday idea.  We each baked four dozen of our favorite cookie and set them out in a delicious display.  From the selection, we equally divided up all the different assortments so that we all ended up taking home the same amount that we each brought, except in a scrumptious eclectic variety!  We then took these collections of goodness home to gobble up or perhaps re-package and gift out to family, friends or neighbors.  It's a great way to get a delicious assortment of home made goodies without buying ingredients for all the different sorts.

The children, to celebrate the return of the sun, rolled beeswax candles and made pomander satsumas (oranges being a bit tough for their small hands to pierce with the cloves).  Many thanks to our friends Patricia and Lisa for bringing these warm, wonderful, sweet smelling activities to our celebration.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

this year's tree

We found and harvested this year's tree from the same family farm we went to last year.  When the couple there even remembered us, it felt like a tradition was in the making.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We've been talking about the cats quite a lot lately.  Golem has cancer and, to my great sadness, is not long for this world.
Naiya was asking if Golem and Frodo were going to get something in their stockings from Santa. I told her that Frodo might not because he's not been such a bad boy (he's been peeing on things). She then asked if she, mommy and daddy were going to get anything from Santa in our stockings.
"Of course," I told her, "we've all been very good, haven't we?"
"How does Santa know we've been good?"
"He has special powers of knowing because he's Santa," I told her.
"I think he must look it up on his computer," she said.

Monday, December 6, 2010

st. nicholas day

This morning Naiya woke to find that St. Nicholas had left some little gnomes in her boots.  They had a grand play time introduction downstairs with the nutcrackers we had just taken out to begin our holiday decorating. With Naiya's help they were all putting on "puppet shows" for at least 30 or 40 minutes!

Because St. Nicholas also left gold coins and a likeness of himself (which Naiya thought was incredibly silly) she also repeatedly re-enacted the story we often tell of the poor man and his three daughters...

Long ago a poor man and his three daughters lived in a little village. The man had once been rich but now had almost nothing.  He and his three daughters barely had food to eat or clothes to keep themselves warm.  
Now, Nicholas was the bishop of that village. He heard about the man's family and their suffering and it made him very sad.  He wanted to help but he didn't want to call any attention to himself.  Finally, Nicholas hit upon a plan, and this was it:  One night, the poor family went off to bed as usual.  Nicholas though, didn't go to bed. He waited in his house until the middle of the night, when everyone in the village was asleep and no one would see him.  Then he made his way quietly to the poor family's house and crept up to the window, keeping out of sight. When he was sure no one was nearby, he quickly stood up and tossed into the window enough gold coins for the family to get by— and hurried back to his own house before anyone there missed him.
Well, you can imagine the family's surprise and delight in the morning when they found the gift! The man gave the coins to his eldest daughter, to help her and her sweetheart get married, which they had been wanting to do. And he thought that perhaps she and her new husband could help by sending the family some money sometimes so they would have enough to live on.
Alas! The daughter and her new husband soon had a family of their own, and moved away, and couldn't help much. Before long, the man and his remaining daughters were just as poor as they had been before.  Again, they suffered.  But again Nicholas heard of their adversity.  So once more, long after everyone had gone to bed, and everything was very still, Nicholas crept to the family's house, pitched his gift of coins through the window and ran home without anyone noticing him.
Once again the family found the gold coins in the morning with tears and joy.  And once again the man gave the coins to his daughter, the middle one this time—thinking perhaps she and her new husband could give some help to him and his remaining daughter.
But you've probably guessed what happened. The second daughter too quickly had a family of her own, moved away, and couldn't contribute anything. And so the man and his remaining daughter were again destitute. 
This time, however,  the man didn't go to bed when his daughter did. He had a feeling that the bag of coins would come and this time he was going to find out how it happened. So he waited.
Sure enough, in the middle of the night, Nicholas came quietly to the house.  He saw a candle burning in the window though so instead of dropping the bag in there, he crawled up to the rooftop and dropped it down the chimney where it fell into the youngest daughters stockings which hung drying on the fireplace mantle.  The man heard the clanging of the coins in the stocking and ran out of the house.  Nicholas slid off the roof and ran but the man chased him all through the streets until they were both out of breath. He finally caught up with him. The man looked at his face and saw that it was Nicholas, the bishop! He fell to his knees, and thanked Nicholas for all he had given him.  But Nicholas did not want any credit for what he had done. He told the man not to tell anyone (although I don't think the man kept the promise, or else I would never have heard the story to tell to you.)

(This anecdote from St. Nicholas Center originally includes the man selling his daughters into slavery.  I thought that a tad disturbing for a four year old so I altered the tale a bit.)
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