‘Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the blog,
holiday cheer was stirring,
Or was it the nog?
I heartily recommend making this a participatory post: go mix up a batch of nog for yourself. Here is a top recipe. By using Hagen Daz as the base, you don’t have to get all the milk and sugar together yourself.
•Let 1 pint of vanilla Hagen Daz ice cream melt
•beat 6 egg yolks until they are thick and light
•fold the yolks into the liquid ice cream
•slowly pour in 1 cup brandy, until a smooth base results
•let the base rest overnight in the refrigerator
•to serve, stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
And so we have come to the yearly night of the dear Savior’s birth. Hmm. Nonsequitur? Maybe more Latin will help.
Verbum caro factum est/ The Word was made flesh
Et habitavit in nobis/ And lived with us
et vidimus gloriam ejus/ and we saw his glory,
gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre/ the glory as of the only-begotten by the Father
plenum gratiae et veritatis./ full of grace and truth.
The “holiday season,” whatever that generic, consumer, institutionalized idea is, has a life—-make that an overblown life—-all its own. It builds through shopping days, now beginning back at Halloween, stopping first at Hanukkah. Then on to Santa’s visit and an even more generic idea of the beauty of winter, where snowflakes are the important motif. Then the celebration of the New Year, when we finally get clear of it all.
If, along the way, the "holiday season" encourages someone to actual cheer or kindness or generosity, then it has some meaning.
As a Catholic, I have to say the whole December experience is increasingly dismal. “MACY’S Santaland and the tree at Rockefeller Center notwithstanding, many New Yorkers are not celebrating Christmas,” wrote Seth Kugel in the New York Times. Good grief. I know Santa and big trees are cultural artifacts of Christianity, but they are not the celebration of Christmas, though for some they have become the end unto themselves.
There is a great throw-away line in the Wikipedia entry on Christmas, that it has a “dual status as a religious feast day and a secular holiday of the same name.”
That’s really it. Two very different things that have the same name.
The secular holiday, in my view, has run amok.
The religious feast, which is a solemnity, is still to mark the birth of the Redeemer of the human race who became Man out of love for a suffering people in great darkness.
Happy to report that the nog recipe works for everyone across the holiday spectrum.
For practising Christians, I offer Cantique de Noel, which captures all the hope and potential for life that entered the world in that manger.
Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angels' voices!
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.