Posts Tagged ‘Boxing Day’

Letter From New York 12 26 15 Thoughts on Boxing Day….

December 26, 2015

Boxing Day.  Shepherdstown, WV, Olde Hudson Cheese.  Dena Moran. Sarah Malone.  Kevin Malone. Michelle Melton. Jim Malone. Syria. Mosque fire in Texas. Corsican fire.  Australian fires. NY Times Virtual Reality. World Food Program. Hope, AK.  Bill Clinton.  Hillary Clinton.

Outside it is as grey, as it has been for the last few days. It is warm, too, near 50 degrees in Shepherdstown, WV.  It will be grey all day with rain probable in the evening.

It is the 26th of December, Boxing Day in those countries once affiliated with the British Empire.  Boxing Day derived its name from two traditions.  One is that for servants it was the day they had off to celebrate Christmas after devoting the actual day to waiting on their “betters.”  The other reason was that on the 26th of December, children would roam the streets of England collecting alms for the poor in boxes.

Often in the past I’ve had a “Boxing Day” party.  When Dena Moran, proprietor of Olde Hudson Cheese in Hudson heard I was gone between Christmas and New Year’s, she frowned and said, “What, no Boxing Day party?”

But I am gone, sitting at the dining room table of my friends’ home in Shepherdstown, sipping coffee the morning after a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

My oldest friend, Sarah McCormick Malone, her husband Jim, their son Kevin and his wife Michelle, and I gathered around the dining table and have feasted.  We have sipped wine and consumed appetizers and desserts and wonderful mains, crab cakes and duck.

We spent two hours opening presents around a small tree we purchased on Christmas Eve to ensure that there was Christmas spirit in the house. 

Now, on Boxing Day morning we are all gathered in the kitchen, preparing for French toast and more feasting and a concert tonight.

While I’ve been coddled in the warmth of my friends and the coziness of this home, the world has been relatively quiet as I looked at the news this morning.

In Corsica and in Texas, mosques were burned on Christmas Day as antipathy against Islam grows in the West.  In Hope, AK the childhood home of Bill Clinton burned in a case of suspected arson.  Was he the target of the anger or his spouse, Hillary, who is leading the Democratic field for the Presidential nomination?

Disastrous fires burned over a hundred homes outside of Melbourne, Australia while tornadoes and flooding ravaged northern Alabama.

While we feasted, celebrated, opened presents, and enjoyed the coziness of this house, the war waged on in Syria with a rebel leader killed on Saturday.  He was anti-Assad and his death will have ramifications in the confusing cauldron of that country.

As we were prepping our Christmas duck last night, Kevin shared a VR NY Times video about refugees, taking us as visually close as we could to the lives of three young refugees, one from Ukraine, one from Syria and one from South Sudan, two boys and one girl.  It was stunning and affecting and each of us experienced it felt closer to their experiences than we would have simply by reading articles.

The Ukrainian boy fled with his family as rebels advanced.  When they returned, his grandfather’s body had been in the garden all winter, the school destroyed and most homes damaged.  The Syrian girl lives in a refugee camp and gets up at 4 AM to work in the fields.  In Syria they had toys, now they only have each other.  The Sudanese boy fled with his grandmother into the swamps.  His father was killed, his mother has disappeared.  They fend as best they can. 

VR Video made this painfully real.

When I begin teaching in January and someone asks me what to look at in media, I would suggest looking at Virtual Reality as a career opportunity.  It is changing our media experiences.

We spent time after opening presents to discuss what charity we might want to support this year.  High of the list was World Food Program which supports the feeding of refugees.  I tended toward that organization after seeing the plight of the three children.

We have more refugees since any time since the end of World War II.

It is a great deal to think about as I wander through another day, in a warm house, surrounded by warm friends, knowing that my friends and family are safe but from all but the most normal of hazards, living without, for the most part, any fear of suicide bombers, starvation and having to live with idea of fleeing at a moment’s notice from their homes and towns.

Not like so much of the rest of the world.

Letter From New York 12 26 14 Another Boxing Day…

December 27, 2014

It is late at night, Boxing Day night, the night after Christmas. Tradition has it that it was the day the Lord and Lady of the Manor gave their servants presents in boxes. Or that it was the day young children went out with Boxes to collect alms for the poor. Whatever its exact origin Boxing Day is a holiday in most Commonwealth countries.

And often I have had Boxing Day parties. I think the first one was long ago when I lived in Los Angeles in an apartment on Plymouth Blvd. It was a great old apartment, Spanish style with a raised roof and beams. That was the first Boxing Day party I remember giving.

Today was the most recent. Friends, neighbors and a few friends of friends, a small but good group gathered tonight at the Cottage for the Boxing Day. A few martinis, a fair amount of white wine and some other drinks, mingled with some good food. And all had a good time.

It is the last of Christmas, 2014. Not a bad way to end the season. Now we are on to the New Year’s celebrations and a winding down of the year, getting ready for the adventure that will be 2015.

Letter From New York 12 23 14 The Eve of Christmas Eve

December 24, 2014

It is the eve of Christmas Eve and I am freshly back from my friends Lionel and Pierre’s where I had a wonderful Shepherd’s Pie. They will come tomorrow at three for us to exchange presents and then again at 6 for dinner. I am cooking pumpkin soup, a salad of haricot verte, followed by ham, yams, asparagus and other things.

I have spent the whole day shopping for the next three days as I will be cooking for the next three days. I have organized menus and purchased food and prepped as best I can for the Holidaze.

In the background Christmas sounds are playing. I have a couple of presents left to wrap but I’m done. And I’m glad I’m done. It feels good to have organized it all and to have it all [almost all] wrapped and underneath the Christmas tree.

It all feels good. The chatter of all the troubles in the world seems far away.

Who knows the reason the Internet in North Korea went down? Was it a “proportional” response on our part or was it just an accident? I don’t know though I am suspicious.

It might have been the Chinese, who seem to be getting a little annoyed at the North Koreans. Not a good thing – the Chinese are about the only people who actively prop up the North Koreans. Oh, sorry – Putin has invited Kim Jong-un to Russia.

But Putin has his own troubles. The falling price of oil and the collapsing ruble and those pesky sanctions against him are causing a bit of a free fall in the Russian economy.

THE INTERVIEW, the silly movie at the heart of so much controversy, may actually get a limited release in some movie theatres. Something praised by the White House. Congress would like to have some screenings so they can see what all this ruckus is about and they might get it in the New Year.

Outside my window, at the desk where I am writing, Christmas lights burn.

On Friday, I will have a “Boxing Day” party. It’s the day after Christmas and according to some, it was the day the servants got to celebrate in England after having spent the last couple of days dancing on the whims of the Lord and Lady of the Manor.

It was also, according to legend, the day children in England went around with boxes to collect alms for charity.

But, whatever, the day after Christmas is Boxing Day in the Commonwealth countries and I have given many a Boxing Day party and this year will be doing one for about twenty folks, neighbors and friends, a chance to continue the celebration of the Holidays.

I shopped for that too, today. Never in my life has my grocery basket so overflowed! Never have I been so grateful to gather together the elements of celebration. It feels good to be gathering folks to the Cottage for the Holidays.

I love bringing people together at Christmas; it is a natural outgrowth of my upbringing when it seemed that every Christmas our house was full of friends and relatives, celebrating and feasting.

So let us celebrate and feast! Let us sing the songs of Christmas. Let us drink [carefully or take a cab!] and make merry. It is Christmas.