Christmas Eve is a special quiet time for me and the cats. There is an atmosphere in vigil evenings that is special. We will be following a ritual we made up beginning at sunset. Solstice has just past and while the worst of the winter weather is still to come, the tide has turned on the length of day. Sunset this evening will be at 5:01 PM EST. I will light a fire in the fireplace and start dinner. This is the normal dinner time for the cats, so they will get fed before anything else is done. A chorus of insistent and demanding meows is not my idea of appropriate music for the occasion. Then I will start my supper. I thought a lot about the menu. As it’s just me I would rather have a variety of small dishes than do a big item like a ham or turkey, especially snce I have no refrigerator for leftovers. Since Christmas day is really just a continuation of the night before I can make a nice buffet to graze over the whole holiday. In the chest freezer there was a pair of farmer Frank’s pork chops to stuff and fish to make a fish chowder. Of course using them up would make room for other things to be frozen.
While I’m cooking I play music. I am not a big fan of popular Christmas music. Instead I play much older music, medieval and reaissance pieces and Gregorian chants. Especially i the evening this creates a calming and meditative atmosphere. My favorite CD is Ancient Noels by Maggie Sansone and Ensemble Galilei. When I lived in Maryland I met Maggie and have followed her for years. Maggie has her own music label producing her music and other artists of classical, traditional and Celtic music. It has remained a small, focused, independent.production group I am happy to support. Still so small they only ship to the US and Canada, thankfully their music is available from iTunes and CDBaby for those overseas.. This track was put up on YouTube with Maggie’s permission so I can share it.It may not be your cup of tea but I love it.
When it’s time to eat I have a table set in the iving room in front of the fire. My cats are much less interested in people food than other people’s cats I’ve known but I make sure there are treats and catnip to enjoy while I eat. During the meal I first watch the Sherlock Holmes episode “The Blue Carbuncle” with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. Following this I watch the 1951 movie Scrooge with Alastair Sym, a story peopled by ghosts which makes a good lead in to what comes after I’ve finished eating and cleaned up. The lights go off to be replaced by candlelight and video switches to audio as I curl up with the cats and listen to M. R. James ghost stories. I love the series of four wonderfully narrated by the late Christopher Lee playing M. R. James doing his annual readings to students at Oxford. I can easily watch the videos but listening to the narration alone in the semi-dark is just so enjoyable. Before it gets too late and I get too sleepy, I bank the fire and close the damper, making it safe to hang the stockings from the mantel. This year we didn’t have a tree but I found a tree shaped cardboard scratcher when I went to get food for the cats Friday so I set that out with the stockings. It has holes in it to put treats so I though it was a cute idea. Then off to bed to dream of Scrooge and Christmas treats and a day watching the cheerful, fun movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” and while eating leftovers.