Tuesday, December 31, 2019

On New Year's Eve

Oh, to have said it in Abbie Graham's words in her little Ceremonial of Common Days:

On New Year's Eve I am at home to the Future. I want to hear her ring the doorbell of the world...There is no hurry on this evening. With much leisure I make preparation for the guest who is to come and for the gifts that she will bring. I set my house in order. There is always a keen sense of failure when I find that its appointments are so meager, its proportions so inadequate. I would have my house more in keeping with the royal character of my guest.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Christmas Gift by Frances Parkinson Keyes

This small book by Frances Parkinson Keyes, one of my favorite authors when I was young, is actually a 1959 compilation of years of her Christmas cards that were messages to her friends and family. 

I have a whole shelf of her novels and nonfiction, almost every book she ever wrote. Her husband was United States Senator from New Hampshire and Keyes proved through years of traveling the world to write her books that you could lead a productive life even though in poor health. 

I love her novels but her own life makes her one of my heroines. Here is a small excerpt from one of her Christmas letters in this book. 

I have the gift of work. I am doing work that I love, in surroundings that I have chosen, and I have the assurance that it is going well. For a long time, my tasks were hard and thankless. Nothing about them suggested a benefit received. All that is different now.

I have the gift of health. For many years I was an invalid, for many others a cripple. Now, though still very lame, I am otherwise well.

I have the gift of companionship...When we [family and friends] can get together, it is a time of great rejoicing; but, when we cannot, we do not repine...

I have the gift of faith: faith in myself, long lost; faith in humanity, long shattered; faith in the future, long dark; faith in God, omnipresent. I think faith is the greatest gift of all.

And I do too. 


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Of Nativity Scenes and Other Things

This was my favorite Nativity scene, one of the last ones at Valley View, that I ever built over many years. It was such a pleasure to arrange, almost like my own little spiritual journey. 

The Baby Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, were figures I bought one day after Christmas many years ago for half price, standing in line to pay for them for an hour, I kid you not. All the other figures were from thrift stores, collected over the years.

There was even an elephant because I loved it so.

The orange, blue and cream silk fabric had a sentimental attachment too. It had served many years before as RH's "Pharaoh" costume when he went to a Bible costume party as Yule Brynner as the Ten Commandments pharaoh Ramses, a sarong-type skirt wrapped around him.

Our daughter Christy went as Miriam, carrying baby Moses in a basket, our own baby playing Moses. 

Last Christmas was my last time to arrange my own little crѐche, this time here at Home Hill in a niche in the wall that once must have held a large television. I keep my Aunt Teenie's ship painting over the hole in the wall now but it was a perfect place for these beloved figures. 

In a desire to simplify, I've shared and donated many of our Christmas things these last few years and this was the year to pass on our Nativity figures to our granddaughters. I hope they have lots of fun arranging all our funny little thrift store figures.

Do any of you display your own Nativity scene? Do you put them all out at once or hide the Babe until Christmas morning? Do your Wise Men stand afar off as they travel towards Bethlehem? Do you have special traditions for putting up your own Nativity scene?

In an old Good Housekeeping magazine in my collection, December of 1951, they wrote of beautiful Italian actress Pier Angeli saying she would miss many things about her home in Italy that Christmas in Hollywood, including "the Capanna, or Bethlehem scene, her architect father designed. Each year he added to it, until the Angeli Capanna was the most beautiful in the neighborhood."

I wish there had been a picture of her family's Bethlehem scene. I meant to include a picture of Pier here because she was so lovely but instead will include a link to her life here for anyone interested. I can't resist telling you about one fascinating bit I read...did you know that she was the love of James Dean's life? 

Oops, there I go, getting off subject, the subject being Nativity scenes, crѐches, or Bethlehem scenes.

What do you call them?