O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
This has long been my favorite Christmas carol — especially the urgent, descending, anticipatory “yet in the dark street shineth,” which I recall singing with particular bravado from the balcony of our parochial Church during the yearly Christmas pageant. Even as a child, it sounded like the kind of line you should sing with a furrowed, concerned brow — it interrupts the sweet lullaby, and then returns us, at the end of the lyric, to a moment of resolution.
All of the Christmas season, wrapped up and reflected in the rise and fall of a single stanza: the anxiety and anticipation, quickly succeeded by joy.
I hope you are experiencing joy today, wherever you are, and in whatever form it takes. (Instead of, say, needing to find your way to the nearest Christmas Rage Room. Did you hear about this!? What on God’s green earth…)
Merry Christmas, Magpies.
P.S. A reader recently emailed me with the following Christmas query: “Do you have any recommendations on Christmas collectibles? I’m newly married, love entertaining, and my mother-in-law asked for an idea of a Christmas collectible for our new family.” My answer: The first thing I thought of was Dala Horses. They’re a traditional Swedish wood toy, but they have an association with winter. You can find all kinds of Dala horses — from beautiful handpainted vintage ones on Etsy, to more modern ones from Target, to trays and more. I also thought of Inge-Glas German Christmas ornaments. My mother in law is obsessed with them and I occasionally find good scores on Etsy, like this fruit set. My mom has for years collected pieces of Lladro porcelain for her nativity scene — that could be quite the collection to build! You can find one-off pieces on Etsy, too. FINALLY: nutcrackers! I just this year decided I love them and am going to buy a few for my mantle next year.