Here it is the longest night of the year. By rights as a long-lapsed neo-pagan (an orientation I flirted with in my neo-hippie days, back during the neophyte decade of my 20s), I should kindle a Yule log, make wild music and raise (multiple) horns of usquebaugh to the winter stars. I did that, once, with the Waters of the Brandywine Grove of New Reformed Druids, and must say that any religion that has single malt as its sacrament has at least one undeniable good point.
In any case, a couple of weekends ago the family traveled to Turners Falls, Massachusetts to watch my cousin Margaret and her three children perform Welcome Yule with the local community revels. I think Morris dancing has a lot to recommend it, particularly as done with clacking caribou antlers, and I have a fondness for singing wassail and the minor keys of medieval carols. The performance of "On This Day Earth Shall Ring" by a willowy masked contralto was hauntingly done. Elias was a bit unnerved by the blue woaded woodwoses - and who wouldn't be - but his sister heard the siren call of the theater and is drawn to the stage like nutmeg to eggnog. The cousins were enchanting and a grand time was had by all.
I like my religion in small doses of high ceremony. Give me a vaulted cathedral where my tenor note hangs in the frosty air from choir to nave. For me the leaping lord of the dance and the rumble of the 5th Avenue subway beneath St. Thomas Church during the service of lessons and carols. I'll take Linus reciting the King James Gospel to re-right the Christmas pageant derailed by consumerism. Give me a bit of magic and mystery, though I despair of ever having true Faith.
Blessings on you all at the turning of the year. And now for some mead.