When I was a young child, we had neighbors who adopted me. They had no children, and I became the child Auntie E. and Uncle Jack never had. He was a great jokester but a true gentleman, always walking me home after visits to their house--where I felt as at home as I did in my own house. Auntie E. was a "lady"--I don't know how to explain that except she was always patrician, regal, all those things, though I suspect she came from rural roots--her sister, who I came to know well, was nothing like that.
Auntie E. instituted a custom that has continued in my family until this day, though I have no idea where she got it. She and Uncle Jack were devout Catholics, but I don't think this came from their church. But on January 6th, the night the three wise men are supposed to have arrived at the manger in Bethlehem with their gifts, Auntie E.always had us gather and each throw a sprig of evergreen on the fire, making a wish, which we could tell no one.
Tonight, sixty or more years later, we followed that ritual in my home. My children grew up with it, though I expect Jordan is the only one who folllows it to this day. Jordan, Christian, Jacob, and my neighbor Susan came for supper--Susan was essential because she had the only live greens, in a wreath that had been given them. I fixed a scalloped potato, ham and cheese casserole, and then we burned our greens. Jacob, who had been really a spoiled rotten brat when he got here, got in the spirit of things and told me he wanted to help me burn my sprig. It was all great fun, and, of course, I can't tellyou my wish--then it would never come true. Fun to think about what a three-year-old might wish. In sum, it was a night of ritual and fellowship and good times.
The arctic freeze that has hit most of the country is due here tonight, and the media have scared us witless with predictions of extreme cold, possible precipitation, etc. I can stand cold but not ice. I had three meetings scheduled for tomorrow and have re-scheduled all of them, partly out of concern for my dog Scooby. I can't leave him out in that cold but can't leave him in without me. Besides, it will be nice to sleep late and get going slowly. I've had to rush every morning this week--how un-retirement is that? I've manuscripts and books to read, email to answer, etc.--and a bit of leftover scalloped potatoe for dinner. I'll be a happy camper.