Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping Up Christmas

This will be the last of my Christmas posts, although I may do an Epiphany one, but I wanted to share a couple of things before we say our final goodbyes to Christmas 2009.  It has always bothered me that Christmas ends so abruptly after Christmas Day; every year I try to drag it out a little.  I ponder the "Twelve Days of Christmas" concept, and try to find a way to bring it into my life more fully.  But the world has other ideas, and it's difficult to swim against that flow.

Another thing that's been bothering me lately is that many of the songs associated with Christmas are actually WINTER songs, and have nothing especially to do with Christmas.  I wish these songs were played all winter long; maybe then we could collectively celebrate this wonderful season a bit more, instead of dreading it as soon as Christmas is over.  I mean, winter's just started, for crying out loud - let's enjoy it.  Let's single Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, and Baby, It's Cold Outside all winter long!  Anybody with me here?

Anyway, for those of you who asked for my Eggnog Cheesecake recipe, here it is.

You'll notice I crossed out the shortbread cookies and toasted hazelnuts ingredients and replaced them with Pecan Sandies.  I did this because I've never been able to find hazelnuts that weren't still in their shells, and I'm lazy.  The Pecan Sandies work just fine.  This year is actually the first time I've done the toasted hazelnuts because someone brought me a huge bag of shelled ones, and I'm telling you - it wasn't significantly better.

And just for the Postman, here is the Bourbon Fruitcake recipe, taken from Jeff Smith's wonderful book, "The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas."  I know there's some scandal associated with Smith, but I still adore this book, and him.  May he rest in peace.  Whatever he did or didn't do is not for me to judge; but I can judge him by his writing, which in this book is quite inspired.

Don't forget that you can click on these photos to enlarge them if they're difficult to read.

I'd also like to share a poem by W.H. Auden, called "For the Time Being:  A Christmas Oratorio."  This poem closes Smith's book, and that's where I know it from.

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes--
Some have gotten broken--and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school.  There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week--
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted--quite unsuccessfully--
To love all our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.  
                                                        Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed.
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable 
Possibility--once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep his word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.  
                                                       But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays.  The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this.  
                                                       To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly 
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened.  Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering.  So once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."

They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine.  In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance.  The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon;
When the Spirit must practise his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, that, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

May you have a fruitful and joyous new year,
and in the words of Jeff Smith,

I bid you peace.


  1. "Let's single Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, Let It Snow, Winter Wonderland, and Baby, It's Cold Outside all winter long! Anybody with me here?"

    I am with you!

    Thank you for the recipe! I love how great you are with this camera.

    And...I too believe, no one is cheated.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

  2. Beautiful poem; such mortals are we. Love the line, "grossly overestimated our powers." Always, it seems. Thank you for sharing it. I also picked up Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Chrismas in Wales," at your suggestion, which I enjoyed too. I would love to make the eggnog cheesecake but I dare not, having already eaten much too much pineapple cheesecake. Happy New Year!

  3. A lovely poem, as appropriate now as when it was written. (Trying quite unsuccessfully to love all our relatives - never a truer word spoken!)

    Thanks for the recipes! I'll put 'em to good use. I appreciate their inclusion in this post...

    Oh yes, and finally, HECK YES I'm on board with winter songs being played all through winter! Christmas tunes can be left by the wayside, but Christmas cheer shouldn't go out the door as soon as Christmas is over! Winter's just begun, let's keep it merry!

    Say, on a related note, do you like Enya?

  4. I'm with you. Round here, we do play holiday music well into the new year...all the way to my wife's birthday in February, some of it, but lots of it till MLK day in mid-January.

  5. Post...Post...Post Polli Post!!!!!

  6. Hi Polly
    I wrote you a long comment onmy iPhone all about bon bons and chewy milky bars and letting go of ideals and expectations and it got gobbled up!
    So for now , until I get a computer, I will say happy days for the new year

  7. A belated thank you for both the recipes and the wonderful writing this year. I don't that often start reading blogs that are new to me because there are so many already in my life, but yours is so rewarding, how could I resist!

  8. Yes...You have been AWARDED the Superior Scribbler AWARD on One True Self!!!

  9. I must admit, I'm somewhat surprised by the positive responses to playing "holiday" music after Christmas - there are so many people who hate it, even during Christmas, including my kids!

  10. Jennifer - I love your new picture, and you do not look like Laura Linney in this one. Thanks for the photography compliment. I'm finding now that I long for a better camera.

    And thank you for the award! I'll be over shortly to check it out.

  11. Dreamfarm Girl - It must have been someone else who recommended that to you - I've never heard of it. Pineapple cheesecake? That sounds lovely. Did you make that?

  12. Postman - I do like Enya. I used to listen to Watermark almost daily, and then kind of burned myself out on it. Now, she's more of a certain kind of mood for me. Why do you ask?

  13. Dan - I think MLK day is a great cut-off period. In fact, wasn't that traditionally the day the Wise Men went back home?

  14. Delwyn - Nice of you to take the time to drop by during your moving process. I hope that's going well.

    I'm very curious about that lost comment. Your iPhone must have been hungry for bon bons!

  15. Thank you, Tess, for that lovely compliment! I'm honored.

  16. She just came out with a new CD ("And Winter Came...") which your post reminded me of, because it's billed as an album of Christmas AND WINTER songs. I got it for my ma for Christmas and I can already say that (a) it's a beautiful, beautiful piece of work, (and I DON'T feel like a metrosexual for saying that), and (b) it's not all Christmas tunes. There are some purely winter tunes on there. You might like it, check it out.

  17. Ah yes - I heard some of that on my Christmas-music Pandora station. It was lovely.

    I really don't like the term "metrosexual." Men like you who might be labeled that way are actually just expanding the definition of a man, in my book, and therefore becoming Man.

  18. Whew! Glad to hear it. Thank you. I suppose the ultimate definition of Man is somebody who lives the way he believes he should irrespective of anything denigrating anyone else might say, right? Amazing how often I and every other guy forgets that.



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