Death of Christopher Hitchens on Back Porch
It be 6 somethin' in the mornin' an' homemade muffins is a bakin' in the oven--healthy of course ( oatmeal, pear nectar, applesauce, ground flaxseed, safflower oil, natural sugar, nutmeg, walnuts). Uncle is still abed, the house be quiet as a mouse. I luvs 'dat.
The tree lights are on, so neighbors leavin' home at dawn-thirty will be cheered. I'se cheered--the trees is up, the mantles are draped in mixed greens an' pine cones... an' more or less, the house be decently cleaned. (my piles of books an papers locked in the one room whar' no one can ever go)
Camellias is a bloom, an the kumquat tree will yield its pixie fruit jes' in time to add some Florida flair to table on Christmas Eve.
The first cup o' cawfee is at mah elbow, an' I'll spend the next hour readin' the assigned story for The Book Club what meets today at our annual Christmas luncheon. I'se giddy as a kid, bustlin' around wrappin' their little gifts, thinkin' how odd we is--this very diverse gaggle of ole' geese who done managed to stick together through thick an' thin--an we's had some thin: cancer, lost husbands, lost professorships, lost political influence..but somehow what remains is the women underneath.
The Book Club is the longest runnin' one--I has two others--an' had we'uns known we'd be meetin' fer more'n 22 years we'd appointed us an historian. Afore computers, we had only our calendars to remind us of what we'uns read an when...in the days afore Amazon.com, when we wuz patrons of the library an' independent bookstores...or even raided our mama's shelves, an' combed used book emporiums fer oldie goldies. I ain't been in public library in over a decade (university libraries be an exception), but I does still git lightheaded wif' excitement when a trip to an ole bookshop is planned.
Over the years we's read an array of Christmas themed stories--not all are memorable. The past few years we's been workin' our way through Christmas Stories by the South's Best Writers.
Lemme own up to one thang, all Southern writers ain't equal. Peter Taylor is a "best" but Pat Conroy ain't made it past sentimental swill. Neither is in this volume. I does recall the memories of a young Truman Capote in another book.
Over the years The Book Club done read A Child's Christmas in Wales, The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Mr. Ives Christmas, various Christmas themed cookbooks,
Christmas Angels, Ferrol Sam's The Christmas Gift....too many books to recall.
But the Christmas story that sticks in mah mind the most is by Taylor Caldwell. I'd read her Captains and Kings as a youngster, then waded through Prologue to Love. Long ago I kept her book, The Listener, on mah bedside table fer an entire year. I can highly recommend it.
But on the clan gatherin' fer Christmas Eve we always read a selection from our much thumbed, ragged anthology, Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book.
Thar's stories by Twain, Alcott, good ole Shakespeare an' Dickens, poetry by Frost, Ogden Nash an' Auden. Best of all, it contains Caldwell's "My Christmas Miracle." * We doan read it every year, but Aunty do...I slip off on an late afternoon afore Christmas an' read this story. It ain't gooey, but it gits to me. It sets me right even when I'se worriet that thangs ain't turnin' out right fer Christmas. Ya' might say it realigns mah perspective some.
An' it reminds me to acknowledge folks who has been kind to me durin' the year. This year, I has a pair of young men to send a "remembrance" to--both doctors who went long past "professional competence" durin' Granny's last few months. These men were heroic within' themselves, not as doctors, but as fellow human beings who could do somethin' better than wuz standard--an' they did so: cheerful souls wif' a genuine belief in the importance of the sanctity of every minute of life. These men were gifts to us--an unexpected miracle.
Does y'all have a favorite Christmas story or book? Please share yore mostest best wif' us'uns.
* A copy of Caldwell's story can be read here.