Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Barnesville

Only three days late ...

We had a lovely Christmas ...

We went to ecumenical Christmas Eve services organized by the Barnesville Ministeriam at the Presbyterian church, where the Rev. Andy Wood is the pastor. We love Andy and he feels like our friend because he hangs out with Quakers. Ela and Bill, who are both very talented musicians, and who used to work at Olney, performed on the cello and whistle. Bill makes his own whistles, which look like piccolos. Needless to say, Bill and Ela were wonderful. The whole service was lovely-- the storybook church with stained glass windows, the traditional Christmas carols .. Joy to the World, Silent Night... and readings about the birth of Jesus ... the glow of lit candles at the end ... very "tender" in the Quaker sense of the word. They even rang the old-fashioned bell at midnight ...

Barnesville was pretty and idyllic on Christmas Eve, with the lit wreathes and big stars made of white lights attached to the lampposts along Main Street, the road glistening. Even the lopsided, decorated Christmas tree with colored lights on the corner added a touch of whimsy.

Christmas day was nice and I think (hope) everyone liked their presents. I liked mine. I read The Financial Lives of Poets, which I loved, except that (male) author treats women as objects--I felt like saying, come on, already ... is there anything more to the fictional wife than a "tight bod" and "hot bod" and that she's "cute" and that other men find her "hot" and that the protag. wants to have sex with her? And the other surface things: she likes to shop because she has "issues" from her childhood and she's good with their young sons (which makes him jealous because he wants the attention)? What is she like as a person? What's in her mind and her soul? And all the other women in the book are the same: "hot" Amber the HR woman, and the son's hot second grade teacher whom he wants to ... you know .. and the "hot,' "Nordic" blond Bea who .. guess what he wants .... and it's simply depressing that in an otherwise great book, where the men are immediately drawn as fully human, and yet there's not one woman who is more than a body. It wasn't deliberate either, I don't think, as he goes to pains to make this fictional hero sympathetic. But that's my rant.

Sophie's flight in from Baltimore was delayed so we had a big rush getting to Jane and Clyde's for Christmas dinner. As Jane said, after two years, it's a tradition! Bill and Ela also came and there was more music. Clyde, who is a retired music professor, played the piano, Jane sang (beautiful voice), their daughter Susan played the flute and Ela and Bill again played the cello and whistle. I lack the musical gene, so I listened. It was a lovely, old-fashioned event in the big high-ceiling living room--we even had a fireplace--and I don't think I can remember ever having had such a musical Christmas, filled up with so many Christmas carols. And I was thinking how nice it is that we all share a cultural heritage of Christmas music: People from farflung parts of the country can gather and we all know the same songs ... Something to think about. I like to think the music touches people with some of the true, pure sweetness of Christianity at its best.


Hystery said...


Your experience sounds lovely. I listened to John Denver and the Muppets this year (as is my family custom) and realized that so much of my belief as an adult has foundations in the Christmas music of my childhood. I grew up on hymns and sing them most every day. When I look at the lyrics separate from the music itself and the feelings the music create, I am less impressed but add the music and the feelings and suddenly I am transported and can understand at a level my intellect cannot achieve on its own.

kevin roberts said...

Ah yes, women stereotypes. I remember once reading through the entire collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in one extended session. Doyle had a fantastic way of picturing exotic people from strange places with unusual traitrs, so long as they were men. Almost all his women characters fell into two categories, cookie-cut-- distinguished, cultured, and gracious victims, noble in appearance rather than beautiful, courageous outside while suffering inside, or they were fallen women, wreaking final vengeance from the gutter or bringing gutter tactics to distinguished households, and always the agent of their Lothario's downfall.

Interestingly, only Doyle's very few villainous women seem real, with a complex interior. He never mentioned whether they were hot. They weren't stereotyped as bodies, but as social symbols, and only two.

Diane said...

Hi Hystery,

There is something about that Christmas music.


Sherlock Holmes! Yes. Interesting.