Sunday, January 19, 2014

2008 Joseph Phelps Insignia, after the wait


Everyone got a little pour -- let's see, that makes fourteen people, or was it fifteen? -- and the wine flowed black-purple into our glasses. It was like eating a bottle full of fruit, but fruit strong enough, as my grandmother used to say about some coffee, "to stand up and walk down your throat." Dry-shod, I might add.


And then after the little crackers and the cheeses and the spinach bites and the pickle-and-beef rollups and the pasta Bolognese and the bruschetta and the cookies and the cakes and pies and the wines and the ancillary birthday champagne, we all tottered out into the cold under the twinkling stars (my, Orion is a big constellation) and drove home. Giving thanks.

"It was a pre-Christian force which drove them all into agreement upon the twenty-fifth of December. Just as they wisely took the Christmas tree from the Roman Saturnalia, so they took the date of their festival from the universal pre-Christian festival of the winter solstice, Yule, when mankind celebrated the triumph of the sun over the powers of darkness, when the night begins to decrease and the day to increase, when the year turns, and hope is born again because the worst is over. No more suitably symbolic moment could have been chosen for a festival of faith, goodwill, and joy.

"And the appositeness of the moment is just as perfect in this era of light and central heating, as it was in the era of Virgil, who, by the way, described a Christmas tree. We shall say this year, with exactly the same accents of relief and hope as our pagan ancestors used, and as the woaded savage used: 'The days will begin to lengthen now!' " -- Arnold Bennett, The Feast of St. Friend (1911)

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