Monday, December 21, 2009

The Holiday Parties Have Begun

by Julia Buckley
celebrating in 1994

I am a bit late posting today; I'm afraid I got caught up in holidaying. My son turns fifteen on the 23rd, so we celebrated his birthday yesterday, stuffing a large extended family into a small house and hoping no one would notice the close quarters if we plied them with enough pasta and red wine.

After they all left, we barely had time to clean the tables before my old college chum turned up for a fun evening visit and a sleepover, as in days of yore. It seemed that time had never passed as we snuggled in front of the television and critiqued the performances in various tv shows and one movie, pausing in between viewings to fill each other in on the complications of our lives. Apparently we still possess some of the melodrama of our youth, since we spent a portion of our time despairing over colleagues whom we considered, in our righteous rationality, to be insane. :)

This morning was similar to any "after the ball" experience: my husband had to go to work, Lydia had to hop in her car and drive back to Indiana (where she is, I add proudly, a university professor) and I am faced with the dishes that I didn't get to last evening.

The boys are tired and watching Spongebob; I don't anticipate this state of affairs changing for several hours.

Thank goodness for the holidays, though, because they allow for these bursts of fun that are never possible in the work week grind of the relentless year. Despite two bags of research papers that I must grade over this break, I intend to see movies, lunch with friends, take walks, grow older (my birthday is a week after my son's) and oh, yes--I'd like to write.

And somewhere in between all of those mini celebrations will be Christmas. In this nostalgic season, I wish all readers of this blog a wonderful holiday, and the finest words I can bestow as a holiday blessing come from Dylan Thomas, whose nostalgia is beautifully memorialized in A Child's Christmas in Wales. Here's an excerpt to brighten your holiday thoughts:

“Our snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like pure and grandfather moss, minutely white ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb numb thunderstorm of white torn Christmas cards.

‘Were there postmen then too?’

‘With sprinkling eyes and wind cherried noses, on spread frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was the ringing of bells.’

‘You mean the postman went rat-a-tat tat and the doors rang?’

‘I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them.’”

May you all hear those bells in your hearts this week. Happy holidaying!


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Lovely post, Julia, and glad to hear you weren't MIA this morning but just hung--er, recovering from your party. I love that passage from A Child's Christmas in Wales, and when I read it, I hear it in Dylan Thomas's own extraordinarily mellifluous voice--we had a record of him reading the whole thing when I was a kid.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Liz! Yes, the more I hear Thomas' words (and I hear them yearly in the PBS film version of his story), the more they stay with me as an alternate way of describing the holiday experience.

I happen to be giving my niece (who asked for tickets to Wales for Christmas) a recording of Thomas reading this and five poems.