Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Changing Face of Christmas, with the Tea Tarot

Where do we get our perceptions of a perfect Christmas? Certainly from childhood memories. From returning to our parents' home after we've moved away. And from the years when our own children were small. And later years when they came back 'home' as adults, and possibly as parents themselves. Were those times, those years, as wonderful as we remember? Possibly not, but there they sit, entrenched, as the model for how things need to be to have a suitably heart-warming, fulfilling Christmas.

What happens when this amalgam in our head, the ideal, no longer holds, or is no longer true? Christmas can be a minefield of memories, a teetering pile of wishes and hopes, easily shaken, terrifying when toppled.

Then what?

Well, you can try to change how you view Christmas day, which is a bit like pushing your stubborn, tradition-bound mind, Sisyphus-like, up a slippery, snow-covered hill, (or a very tall ladder). It's tough, but doable.

And when accomplished, is a smile-making, joy-bringing bubbling up of magic!

  • Does Christmas need to be thronged with parents, kids, and grands to be a success? Maybe not.
  • Is it possible that friends old and new, unrelated to you, usually not a part of your Christmas day, might be a worthy substitute? Indeed it is!

  • Can Christmas be a self-indulgent alone-day, graced with books, delicacies, ciders and nogs, music, tree lights and glowing mantel? Why not? Doesn't everyone deserve a delicious pampered day? Am I by myself not worthy of a feast?

  • Is it possible that the day itself is not the entire deal?
    • What about the weeks leading up to the 25th - don't they count as part of the season?
    • What about the 26th? Does it have to be a let-down? Aren't there still albums to play, beloved movies to chuckle at and weep over? Aren't the cookies still tasty? The fruitcake even finer than the day before? The trifle boozey and rich? The meats cooked and ready?
    • The Twelve Days of Christmas begins on the 26th and runs right through January 6th. There's an entire new thwack of festivity, ready to go! Check out Caitlin Matthews' 2013 blog on the topic for an interesting historical look. Or this comical fountain-pen version of the song, from the friendly staff at Goulet Pens!
  • Or maybe it's just another day, and needn't be elevated beyond a plain old holiday from work, to do whatever pleases, whenever it pleases. Drive through a fast-food place, take a walk, while away time doing puzzles, shop online, make bread, hang a painting, read 'til 3:00am, dance to a Latin CD, repot a plant, polish your Gram's silver, sleep in crazy late.

Break out of the old, and begin some new traditions of your very own!
What in the world would you like to do with your Christmas?
(All images from Marcia McCord's Tea Tarot.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Poems of the Season

There is a wonderful used-book store in my city, Juniper Books, which lives in a little house crammed to the rafters with a wondrous variety of books. History and politics gather in the former living room, cookbooks mix it up in the kitchen, mysteries haunt the attic, children's tales frolic in the dining room. I hope that owners past are pleased with their home's current guise, and find it as charming as I do!

Last Saturday, in exchange for a bagful of books given, I came home with an armful of Christmas reads, among them a tiny tome called Christmas Poems. One selection in particular seemed to meld Solstice with Yuletide and Christmas.

So as we near the magical time that is Christmas Eve, I give you my three favourite stanzas from
Christmas Eve by Walter de la Mare.

Dark is the hour, long the night;
Hoarfrost sheds a shimmering light;
The wind in the naked woodland cries
A harplike music; the willow sighs.
But a marvellous quiet dwells in heaven -
Sirius, Markab, the faithful Seven -
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.

No glint of dawn; but Chanticlere
Is crowing of Christmas, bugle clear.
In waxen hive, close-wintering,
Bees a slumbrous orison sing;
Roused from their lair in dales of the snow,
Light-foot deer in procession go;
Cattle and sheep in byre and pen
Kneel in the darkness, unseen of men:
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.

Hesper is shining - rime on thatch;
Stag-borne Nicholas comes - unlatch!
Children stir in their dream and then
Drowsily sigh and turn over again.
Airs of the morn in the orchard flow;
Lo, in the apple boughs, mistletoe!
For the Old Year's sands are well-nigh run;
This is the Birthday of the Sun.

The New Year's card is the Hermit, shown here bedecked with holly in the Wildwood Tarot
His lantern could almost be an hour-glass, where the sands of the New Year will soon begin to run.

I wish you joy and peace, merry-making and serenity,
and sufficient nog and cookies to see you through the season. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Decks that don't smile

Every once in a while a deck comes along with no smiles in any of its images. None. Zero. Not even on the traditionally cheerful cards shown below, like The Fool, Three of Cups, The Sun, or the Ten of Pentacles.
Siamese Tarot

The Fey Tarot
Chrysalis Tarot

Mind you, I didn't go through all my decks. Only the 135 or so (!) that I've scanned. And of those, I chose to ignore animal decks: Animal Wisdom and Badgers Forest, and cat decks: Bohemian Cats, Cat's Eye, Pagan Cats, and Mystical Cats.
And decks with few human faces like The Raven's Prophesy and The Voyager.

The Sun and Moon has no facial features, so that was out of the running.

Only three decks came up with nary a hint of a smile.
Does this mean that I don't like them? That they're all frown-ey? Heavens, no!
That they aren't any good as reading decks? That they send off dismal messages? Not at all!
Each is elegant, beautiful, and full of imagery. Just serious.

Byzantine Tarot ~ Ten of Coins

Efflorescent Tarot ~ Three of Cups

Four decks that I assumed would be entirely smile-less were not!

For comparison purposes, I checked out the RWS; it has only 11 cards that have smiles. That surprised me; I was sure there would be more. I counted even those with the barest hint of what might eventually become a smile, using a magnifying glass when in doubt. But I did not include the nasty smirking one on the Seven of Swords.
Only well-intentioned smiles were allowed. 

Enough of this seriousness. Cookie doughs await! Chocolate Shortbread recipe can be found here

Monday, December 07, 2015

This picture replaces 1,000 words

Meet Simon Henry, who was a mere four hours old when this was taken. Would that life would remain this secure and simple for him, always. He's my fifth grandchild, and the first boy for our family in this generation. Welcome, little Simon! You bring the spark of precious new life to us all!

Fantastic Menagerie

Gaian Tarot

Ain't life grand!