We’ve all been told about laughter being the best medicine. Certainly, we’ve all had the experience of laughing until there were tears in our eyes. There have been countless studies on the value of being positive, its effects on family and friends, the powerful impact on your health and longevity, even on your sleep and energy. Yet how many of us have allowed doubt and darkness to creep their way into our lives? Would you be surprised to learn that it is a centuries old phenomenon?
Darkness has long been a scary thing, as those in northern climes know better than most. That unknown out there beyond the fire, beyond the light and warmth, lurking and meaning no good. Human imagination, being fertile, will fill almost any blank spaces with fears and foreboding. Fortunately, many of our ancestors were more than a bit clever. The leaders among them knew the importance of good cheer. They preceded Mickey Rooney and many others in this spirit. When things looked the most dire, they must have shouted, “Let’s give a party.” or “Let’s put on a show.” That steadfast pushing back of the darkness at its deepest with a surge of festivities may be one of our truly great inventions. After all, we invented that “right jolly old elf” too. The benefactors vary, including the Italian Befana, the Nordic Father Christmas, the Turkish St. Nicholas and all their cohorts.
The solstice marks the turning point of darkness to light, that shortest day of the year followed by cheerily lengthening days. A turning point minutely measured and noted through centuries of expanding sciences and diverse cultures. Suddenly it feels better to make a plan, to build something, to prepare for the coming year, prepare a feast. How appropriate that this bustle of activity should arrive in time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Solstice, Kalends, New Years and all the holidays of this season?
Now Christmas is come
Let’s beat up the drum,
And call all our neighbors together,
And when they appear,
Let’s make them such cheer
As will keep out the wind and the weather
Festivities abound worldwide, with many charming rituals. In coastal parts of Brazil, where Christmas arrives in summer, Brazilians dressed in white gather on beaches at midnight to sing together. They set out candles in the sand and scatter white flowers on the receding waves. The Thai construct floating lotus bowls filled with incense and lit candles to send down the mighty Mekong and its tributaries, across lakes and down canals carry wishes and hopes. Across all these celebrations, geographies and cultures, there are commonalities such as light, song, rituals, traditions, family, food, drink, gifts, wishes, inside greenery, friends, reflection and hope. Good cheer, good wishes and good intent to drive back the darkest unknowns and push away the coldest fears.
Who is not cheered by a table laden with good food and surrounded family and friends? With an eye toward such a table, we offer an amazingly simple recipe, Cinnamon Pork Roast. You might want to look at the website where you will find many holiday-oriented recipes including Prime Rib Roast with Red Wine, Frosted Fruit, Figgy Pudding, Sugarplums, Cranberry Walnut Tart, Spicy Pumpkin Bundt Cake and even Roast Goose. Laugh with those you love and feel the worth of that mirth and all the comfort of being merry.