It’s Santa Lucia Day again.
Around August I started saying, “2017 months are like dog years.” It’s been a long year, it’s felt like a long year, there are all sorts of things that make me blink and say, what, that was only last month, how can that be. This year has wedged a lot of dark in. A lot of people have found ways to disappoint us, and some of them were new and creative ways, but most of them weren’t. Most of them were old tired ways, the “really? this again?” ways, the ways that take a lot out of the people trying to make things better without providing anything the least bit diverting in return.
But that’s not why I’ve been saying that about dog years. No. The dog years comment keeps coming up because of my hoodlum friends. Because while some of the people I’ve been leaning on, some of the people who have been leaning on me–some of the people being ridiculous together and laughing together and trying to keep creating together and pointing at the horrible things and saying, “you see that? I see it too, let’s not stand for it” together–are old, old friends, some of them are brand new. A lot of them are brand new, actually. A startling lot. And a lot of the brand new ones are people that I specifically started liking and trusting because of their reactions to very dark things. It’s not just the year of me too, friends, although thank God it is finally that. It’s also the year of hell no.
Some of these friends are so brand new that they’ve never read a Santa Lucia Day post of mine before. How can this be, something so fundamental to me? and yet it’s true. Some of the people I honestly don’t know how I could have gotten through the last six months without have never read me talking about the saffron bread and the songs and the candles, about the ritual of light that comes not at Solstice but before it. Canonically before it, ritually before it, ritually heading into more darkness before there’s any hope of light. Some of the people who are suddenly right here in the middle of my heart making sandwich puns and jokes about dryad skulls, hey, don’t you go anywhere, you’re staying, I’m keeping you–some of those people were fine, cordial acquaintances the last time there was snow on the ground, and some complete strangers.
Well, here we are, then. Again or for the first time: this is how the year turns, this is what we do: we make the bread, we light the candles, we sing the songs. We kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. This is the work of the world, and we do it together. And when we find someone else who’s willing to do it next to us, we don’t let go.
This year there’s homemade Meyer lemon curd for on the lussekatter, because someone else likes it. I like it too. The combination is amazing, the saffron and lemon, wow. But I would never have said, “I think I’m going to make myself lemon curd, because I like it.” It’s easier for me to be good to other people sometimes. The more that’s going on, the more that’s true. And sometimes it can spill over. I will try this new patisserie because you’re meeting me there, I will read this classic of the English language I always wondered about because you’re sharing it with me, I will make this lemon curd for you and maybe keep the last of it that doesn’t fit in your container and eat it myself. And it tastes so good, and it looks so golden on this beautiful golden bread.
I haven’t lost the lessons of the past years, the long knead, the early preparation. I know how this goes. This year asked all of those things of me, and it’s going to ask more. It’s going to ask more of all of us. Because last year I knew we were still before Solstice on Lucia Day, still going into the dark of the year, but oh, friends, I didn’t know how much. This year I think I have some clue. I got some good national news with the rest of you last night while I was beginning to write this, and some bad family news. I have cried over my Christmas cards the last two days, one from my first best friend’s father writing about the loss of his wife and the letter I wrote him about her in October, one from a friend who stood up and was a voice for justice when I most needed him to be in June…and knew just how to be silly on the Christmas card. I cried. It was a good cry. I tried not to get it in the lussekatter dough. You tip your head back when you’re crying and kneading, you see, and you sing, and you keep going.
It doesn’t balance out, it coexists. It all coexists, and we’ll just have to get through it all together, good news and bad, happy crying and…not. It’s the first morning of Hanukkah this morning for some of you, as well as being my Santa Lucia Day, and maybe we can sit together, my candles with yours, my songs with yours. We need all of it. We need all of us. It’s a long haul, old friends and new, and it’s not even close to over. At least we’re doing it together.
Happy Santa Lucia Day.
2007: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/502825.html and http://mrissa.livejournal.com/503100.html