Friday, December 25, 2009
A tradition on this blog (if it happens more than once, it is a tradition!) - a few lines from Hilaire Belloc's wonderful essay, 'A Remaining Christmas,' from his selected essays, Penguin edition, 1958, edited by J. B. Morton.
"Now, you must not think that Christmas being over, the season and its glories are at an end, for in this house there is kept the full custom of the Twelve Days, so that 'Twelfth day,' the Epiphany, still has, to its inhabitants, its full and ancient meaning as it had when Shakespeare wrote. The green is kept in place in every room, and not a leaf of it must be moved until Epiphany morning, but on the other hand not a leaf of it must remain in the house, nor the Christmas tree either, by Epiphany evening. It is all taken out and burnt in a special little coppice reserved for these good trees which have done their Christmas duty; and now, after so many years, you might almost call it a little forest, for each tree has lived, bearing witness to the holy vitality of unbroken ritual and inherited things."
"This house where such good things are done year by year has suffered all the things that every age has suffered. It has known the sudden separation of wife and husband, the sudden fall of young men under arms who will never more come home, the scattering of the living and their precarious return, the increase and the loss of fortune, all those terrors and all those lessenings and haltings and failures of hope which make up the life of man. But its Christmas binds it to its own past and promises its future; making the house an undying thing of which those subject to mortality within it are members, sharing in its continuous survival."