Friday, November 27, 2015

November 27: Beautiful and Familiar Glory, Christmas Essay, Elizabeth Alexander, "Butter," Off the Top of My Head

Ives was sitting beside Annie in his old neighborhood church on another Christmas Day looking up at the altar.  There were vases with dozens of orchids on either side of the chalice and pots of blossoms set out on the marble floors and against the columns, garlands of ivy strung along the gallery above.  In the choir stall they had installed the creche with its figures of the shepherds and kings and angels on high and the Holy Family inside the stable, the baby Jesus, the light of this world, at its center.  And they had covered the roof of the stable with evergreen boughs and someone had burned fragrant incense.  That morning as Ives first walked into the sanctuary again, hat in hand and with his wife by his side, he remembered that beautiful and familiar glory.

Ives seems to measure his life by Christmas memories.  The Christmas he first met his wife, Annie.  The Christmas Annie was pregnant with their first child.  The Christmas Ives experiences a mystical vision of God's goodness.  The Christmas their son, Robert, was killed on the steps of a church.  Christmas is a touchstone of family joy and sorrow for Ives.  Beautiful and familiar glory.

Christmas memories have been with me all day.  I've been working on my annual Christmas essay.  I made good progress.  By the time I go to bed tonight, I hope to have it pretty much completed.  I started at around 7:30 this morning, while my family was still sleeping off their Thanksgiving turkey.  The house was filled with Christmas lights and silence, except for the occasional snore or fart from a sleeping form.  I was able to really focus for an extended period of time.

This afternoon, I practiced with my band for our Christmas concert next weekend.  It's been over a year since we recorded the songs on our Christmas CD, so we had to reacquaint ourselves with the music.  Come up with some different arrangements.  Make a few adjustments.  It was a productive rehearsal.

Tonight, while my daughter and her friend (who's a boy) are watching Netflix, I will be working on my Christmas essay again.  Hopefully, putting the finishing touches on it.  My goal is to have it pretty much done by the time my wife gets home from work.

I am really thankful that I've had so much writing time today.  That it feels like I'm so close to completion.  I've been struggling with this essay for quite some time; I was almost at the point of abandoning the idea of having a new Christmas essay this year.

No fairy tale this evening.  Saint Marty's saving up his creativity reserves for tonight.


by:  Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite   
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

Off the Top of My Head

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