Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
By Fred Owens
The lyrics were written by Charley Wesley, the melody was composed by Felix Mendelssohn. It is one of my favorite Christmas carols, mainly because you get to say Hark! ..... Hark! is a word rarely used in conversation or written prose. Like Hark! the postman cometh. Or Hark! the dishes are done so we can sit on the couch and watch TV. Now we only get to sing Hark! once a year.
Christmas at our House
I suggested to Laurie for Christmas this year let's not go any place or spend any money. She agreed to that plan. We, mainly her, made cookies last week, one batch of walnut puffs and one batch of rosemary shortbread. The rosemary shortbread cookies take finely chopped rosemary from the bush right out the back door and the rosemary just adds a hint of flavor. Quite delicious. We, jointly, went to Home Depot and spent 49 dollars on a five-foot noble fir, chosen for its shape -- not being too wide, to fit in the central place between the kitchen, dining room and living room. It is a prominent position for the tree, but also a high-traffic area. We decorated the tree with ornaments stored in the garage, many ornaments having a story from Laurie's folks. Laurie spread out figurines and Christmas knick-knacks around the house, with garlands and lights. Once again we could not fix the light on the angel that goes on top of the tree, but up the angel flies and she is beautiful.
This Friday we are going to Ann's house for an evening party. She is from Switzerland and she is famous for her chocolate mousse. Her cookies are outrageous and enormously complicated and made just so, she being Swiss. I keep a low-level of enthusiasm for her treats however and especially avoid comparisons about these things. Just saying "oh, how tasty!"
Laurie's two daughters will be home. Mariah lives in a cabin in the backyard, Shannon just moved back from a year in Hawaii. Shannon is going to nursing school in Santa Cruz in January. I am convinced she will make an excellent nurse. Shannon and Mariah are both tall. Laurie is tall. Laurie's four brothers are tall. It runs in the family. They are all good-looking, smart and kind.
I saw my son Eugene this Friday. We ate lunch at a cafe in his east Los Angeles neighborhood. We had a warm conversation and I will see him again in the off-week again between Christmas and New Years. Eva, my daughter, has a lovely home with her wife Lara in Seattle, which is a fine place to live but too far away. Their child is Finnegan, a boy 18 months old now and about to be joined by a new child, a new grand child for Laurie and me, expected to arrive in mid-August. This is very joyful news.
For Christmas music I play the piano. I can play O Come Little Children, which was my mother's favorite and has only three chords. Otherwise we play Ann Murray on Pandora. Sometimes we play Dean Martin or Perry Como. Sometimes Brenda Lee, Connie Francis or Elvis. Sometimes Mahalia Jackson.
Decisions. Jerry Barajas was my barber. He worked at the Mesa Barber Shop until he left last month to a new shop that is not so conveniently located. I called him and told him I would get my next haircut at his new place. But not today, today I have a 10:30 appointment at the Mesa Barber Shop with some guy I don't know. The Mesa Barber Shop is so handy. The used book shop is right next door. And after I cruise the used book shop, then I walk across the street to the Mesa Cafe for the noon meeting of the Kiwanis Club. And Jerry was my barber. It was all perfect. A man needs a good barber to feel right. And I'm superstitious --- I don't let people touch my hair unless I trust them. I trust Jerry, but now what do I do? Stay with the shop -- and the barbers there are all pretty good -- or go with Jerry?
Silence. Laurie and I were having morning coffee and reading the newspaper. I said to her I'm not going to say anything until I say something that you haven't heard me say before. She said fine. Long silence while I tried to think of something to tell her that's new. Okay, I got one, I told her. I don't think they should shut down the government. We have the government because we need it, you know, libraries and cops and things. Laurie agreed. Another long silence. OK, here's another one I haven't said before. I'm going to buy new boxer trunks at Macy's and get them after New years when things are quiet......You're not going to Sears? she said. Everything is marked down at Sears.....Yeah, because they're going out of business. It's too chaotic. What if I want to return the boxer trunks and the store is closed. I'm going to Macy's.
Another long silence, but a pleasant, almost happy silence. You know, thinking of new things to say is good.
Merry Christmas to all of you,