The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, December 22, 2006

Festive Foods Friday Five

Well friends, we've covered advent, music, and movies/TV--but we here at F5 HQ would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that quintessential holiday topic... fooooooooood.

1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.

My mother's fudge recipe, the old fashion one you test with a bowl of water to see if it is at the soft ball stage. I hope my sister sends me some, even though I dwell in the land of fudge --it is just not the same. Maybe she'll send me some divinity too?

2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)

I wouldn't exactly call it fancy, although this year we will have cloth napkins. Christmas Day, definitely not Christmas Eve, which is just TOOOOOO busy for cooking. Relatively simple meal so far for DH, her mom and I. A few strays are always welcome.

3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.

Although I love hot chocolate, I think it's too ordinary for Christmas. Wassail --which I define as any mulled fruity liquid-- and Egg Nog are much more festive. I have been sort of toying with the idea of making some home-made egg nog. I had some mulled red wine the other night. Yummy.

4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?

If I'm going to consume a candy cane, I prefer it be minty, though not necessarily peppermint. Does anyone remember when the Lifesavers people used to put out those Christmas Book collection of candies? I would keep all the minty ones and trade the others for something else.

5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?

Nope. But I appreciate the shared experiences of the others about it. I now understand it's attraction.
However, I much prefer a fruitcake, well-soaked in bourbon or rum, wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in the same. You can get high on its fumes! And eating it will necessitate a breathalizer test should one be silly enough to drive after eating a piece.

Edited to add: Well, I am APPALLED with myself that I forgot to include a question about the crown prince of holiday foods--the fruitcake.Feel free to add your thoughts on this most polarizing holiday confection.As always, let us know in the comments if you play. And a handmade buttermilk praline from the reverendhousehold to all those to link directly:what you want the link to say goes hereFor a complete how-to, click here.And finally--may Christ be born anew in your hearts this Christmas.Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Under the Christmas Tree ... so far

Well, I know I got one of my Christmas wishes, in several different boxes under the tree, although I have no clue exactly what is there, what it looks like and how exactly it's supposed to operate. I was told not to touch any of the packages, especially the really odd shaped one, because there's breakables.

It's what I have been calling an "adult" science kit, thanks to one of Lutheran Chik's blogs. I think I got a beer brewing kit! Yippeee!!!! Then I can make "Pastor's Pentecost Pilsner", or perhaps a "Paschaltide Porter", brewed with "holy spirit hops", "blessed barley" and other secret ingredients --watch out, Belgian monks! I actually have my own label for these types of things, from the Christmas I sent out home-canned "Rev. ____'s Tongues of Fire: Pentecostal Peppers" and "Sanctified Salsa", all ingredients from the last time I was actually able to have a garden.

I have to find all of those Groelsch bottles I drained at great sacrifice to myself, so they can be cleaned, sanitized and reused. I may have to drain some more, doggone it. I also have to find the similar bottles that DH brought back from Germany that she also drained at great sacrifice to herself. They have to be the kind of bottles that have the little ceramic reusable caps on them, with the rubber gaskets.

Vacation between Christmas and New Years may be more fun than I anticipated.

Meanwhile, I have an entirely different kind of beverage machine under the tree for DH, as well as some really fun and fashionable accessories for the absent-minded wearer of reading glasses, since she's lost her glasses a lot lately. I've been threatening to get her a "little old lady" gold chain, but I found some which are actually fashionable for the under 70 set. Also there's some really good jewelry deals at one of our local department stores, so I may round out her gifts with earrings or a bracelet. [DH doesn't read my blog, so I am free to say these types of things.]

One evening this week, DH and I have to go shopping for her mom because she needs a new recliner and we're going to get her one. Since she very often sleeps in her chair at night, it's a very important thing that she have a good one.

I guess I am finally beginning to feel a little of the Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Mary's song and more

The timing of my church services for Christmas Eve led me to include Advent 3 with Advent 2 so I could skip ahead to Advent 4 (did y'all follow that?) because I couldn't have an Advent without hearing from the Theotikos, the God-Bearer herself, Mary Mother of Jesus, the prototypical Christian, who experienced 9 months of Advent as opposed to a mere 4 weeks.

I call Mary the prototypical Christian because she is the first to say "Yes" to Christ, although not quite in the same way that others who would come after her would. Her "Let it be" is joined with God's "Let it be" for the salvation and re-creation of us all. Her "Let it be done to me according to your word" is an example for us all, also called to be God-bearers ourselves, although once again, in a way different from Mary, but yet with some of the same struggles and fears.

Inspired by some of my Revgalblogpal friends' answers to the Friday Five regarding favorite Christmas music, as well as a jazz vocalist friend of mine, I am also singing a solo after the reading of the Magnificat and just prior to the sermon, "Breath of Heaven" also known as "Mary's Song" which Amy Grant originally performed. I hope I can get through it without tears tightening my throat and closing off my voice.

The particular phrases from the song that get me are "I am frightened by the load I bear" and "do you wonder if a wiser one should have had my place" and who among us --especially us pastors-- hasn't asked ourselves that question? Yet, Mary will then say in the song, "but I offer all I am/for the mercy of your plan." And later, yet before Jesus was actually born, Mary's hope will bloom full blossom in the Magnificat, where her confidence in God --not in herself or anything else-- will be expressed. Here's a teen-age unwed mother, likely a peasant girl, way low on society's totem pole, whose inexplicable pregnancy makes her even more of a social outcast than she was, who says "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name....He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty."

O God, would that we all could say "yes" to you and your will with the simplicity and confidence of Mary ...

Friday Five

The lovely Songbird posts:

For this mid-December Friday Five, let's explore some Yuletide favorites.

1) It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time?

Yes, life is wonderful ... as for the movie, the first version I ever saw was a made for TV remake where Marlo Thomas played the Jimmy Stewart role and Wayne Rogers the Donna Reed role --well, sort of. Cloris Leachman played the angel. I have never seen this version before or since. Yes, I watch the classic IAWL, but I don't enjoy it nearly as much as The Christmas Story or almost any version of A Christmas Carol.

2) Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new?

Old. And I like it colorized, I decided just the other night.

3) Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge?

With my personal love-hate relationship with the Christmas season, I think I am my own favorite incarnation of Scrooge --Bah Humbug!!!!

4) Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it.

Maybe it's because an elf isn't supposed to be down-in-the-mouth?

5) Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies? The Bumble, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Muppet Version, That Mean Magician Who Tries to Melt Frosty or Your Nomination

How about the faux psychologist in A Miracle on 34th Street?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

blog time lacking

Yes, I have been silent on my own blog lately, mostly because of the demands of the season.

Last night DH and I finally put our tree up and decorated it. So far, the cats have just been sniffing at the ornaments, and have not felt a need to knock them off and bat them around. Pooter likes to scratch his head on one of them, but that's about all.

There were two annual congregational business meetings to prepare for, lots of interesting pastoral conversations in which to engage, as well as the usual worship preparation tasks and so on. There are a few other nagging tasks to get done, like updating one church's website. Tomorrow night is a church-related gathering; Saturday night there's a community oriented Holiday Party.

One thing for which I am very grateful is that I haven't had any snow to shovel. That always adds time to my day when it has to happen.

But I have all of my worship bulletins for the next two weeks almost totally prepared, and I go on vacation from Dec 25 through Jan 1, yippee! Boy am I looking forward to that. But then there will be tons to do to usher in the new year.

Next week I will have some shopping to do, but not much. There will be a simple meal to prepare for probably only 3 people Christmas Day, DH, her mom and myself, Chicken and dressing, green beans or broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, a pie or two. Hopefully we can watch Christmas movies all day and have a nice fire in the fireplace. I will call my family later in the day. I am looking forward to hibernating ...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

Reverendmother from Revgalblogpals writes: "those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." "

She poses the following questions to us blogpals:

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song. I've always liked "Silver Bells". It's lighthearted and fun to sing. I also like "Carol of the Bells" which is fun and challenging to sing --and it's in a minor key! Yes!

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better) There's a choir anthem by John Rutter, I think called the "Candlelight Carol," which is absolutely beautiful, text and music both.

you can listen here if you have quicktime and I did the link correctly

I listened --and I blubbered.

There's nothing cheesy about it ... I think as a musician I have played or sung so much cheesy Christmas music in my life that I have developed an immunity. It goes in one ear and out the other, and doesn't usually bang into any brain cells on the way.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire. See #3

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. No. I like the parallel song which comes out of the African American tradition much better, "Children, Go Where I Send Thee."

5. A favorite Christmas album. Hmmm ... I have a soft spot for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas and the Harry Simone Chorale vinyls I have [Y'know, vinyl? Back when we recorded music by making grooves on giant discs made of thin plastic that had a tiny hole in the center?]

Friday, December 01, 2006

Preparing ...

Despite the dire predictions of every one of our local weather forecasters, I think my community has missed the Winter Storm bullet. The winter storm warning for our county has been cancelled, which means the anticipated snow accumulation has dropped below the 2" parameter.

Nevertheless, I am glad we prepared. [Besides, this IS Michigan, and who really knows what IT might do.] Yesterday, we went to Home Depot to buy 400 pounds of bagged topsoil to put in the back of DH's pickup so that she could drive on slick stuff more safely than otherwise. [We like topsoil for that purpose because we'll use it next spring to build up the flowerbeds next to the house.] We stack it over the rear axle so she can get better traction. I went to the grocery store to make sure we had a good supply of milk [extra for hot cocoa], bread, eggs and yesterday I made two good sized batches of soup with plenty leftover. These are all things that can be cooked on top of the stove in the event we lose our power [we can light the gas burners with a match, but, alas, not the oven.] We have plenty of firewood. I forgot to buy de-icer, but I think that will be OK --this time.

Secretly, call me an eeejit, but I'm a little disappointed that I am not getting a snow day, even though it is my day off anyhow. I think it is holdover from my childhood in East Texas, where even an inch of snow was cause for celebration because we got out of school. [Really. Just an inch. Because We Don't Know How To Drive On That. Don't believe me? Just look at some of the current footage on the weather channel from the Dallas area and you'll see what I mean.]

The entire snow cover on the front lawn would be used to make a snowman --we had to work very efficiently and carefully to have enough snow to accomplish what we wanted. If the snow were a little deeper, my mother would make snow ice cream [eagle brand condensed milk, vanilla extract, sugar mixed with snow scraped from a "clean" surface --yum!] One of the things that amazes me about Michigan is that no one I have talked to up here has ever made snow ice cream.

Even now as I write, I glance out the window hoping for snowflakes instead of raindrops. Even if I have to shovel.

Of course, I have a Special Dread of Icestorms, also a holdover from my youth. I remember the great Dallas Ice Storm of 1979, when we lost practically every tree we had, when we were without electricity for five days [thankfully we had gas heat, gas hot water and gas cooking] and we played cards or read by candlelight or hurricane lamp light. When we ran out of lamp oil, my brother-in-law and I went out to various stores [most of which were not open] searching for some. We eventually found some in a place only he would have thought to look --at a Headshop! There we were, standing amidst the drug paraphanalia, black lights and psychedelic posters, buying every bottle of lamp oil [scented, of course!] the aging hippie owner had. I saw some of the odd things on the shelves --interestingly shaped glass or metal tubes, pipes, ornate clips and so forth. "Richard ... what is this?" I would ask. He said he'd explain later ... but he never did. Just as well. I remained a "wise" virgin, I guess.

Throughout those very quiet days --little traffic, no electrical hum, no chain saws yet-- ever so often you'd hear a sharp cracking noise like a gunshot, and you knew another tree limb had bit the dust. A potent reminder to stay off the roads --most of which were impassable anyhow--and be careful.

Surely Advent is intended to be something like this. A careful watching and preparation for only God knows what, something both joyous and terrible, awful and awe-filled. A willingness to go into new places and different kinds of experiences in order to be better and more fully prepared.

"Jesus is coming. Look [be?] busy."

Advent Friday Five

From Songbird of revgalblogpals:

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:

1) Do you observe Advent in your church? Yes indeed, wreath, candles, liturgy and hymns.

2) How about at home? Yup --we just "observe" Advent by watching it pass by way too quickly because we're so busy. Most years, we're doing good just to decorate for Christmas. But I understand the season's theme of longing very well, since I long for Winter Solstice as well as for Jesus, because the days begin lengthening after Dec 21 and my seasonal affective disorder starts improving almost immediately.

3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn? I love the John Ness Beck anthem, "Every Valley", based upon the Isaiah text --"and every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain laid low, and the crooked made straight, and the rough places made plain, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of our God has spoken it..."

4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.) We in the GLBT community often take special delight or ownership in the pink or rose candle --we think it's God's little joke shared with us, a kind of Divine Wink that we really do belong in the church, although not everyone is "in" on the joke. It really is the "joy" candle for many of us.

5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?Let us know in the comments if you play. I've never seen a truly funny one, but I can think of a few I could design. "21 Days At The Mall: Lord Jesus, Come Soon --And Get Me Out of Here!" That one should go over well with our retail workers, God bless 'em.