women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

- Gustav Holst

Twilight comes early these dark December days and I find myself asking:

Where did the day go?

How can an eight hour work day leave me with so little to show for it?

I get up in the morning with every intention of cranking a lot out of the ol' sunflower mill and before I know it, the sky is darkening, I am listening for my dear husband's "Honey, I'm home" and it is time to make dinner.

The truly frightening thing is how often I wonder:

Where did the week go?

Or the month?

The year?

And in a very few weeks, as we turn our calendars to 2010, I can ask myself:

Where did the decade go?


Now that's scary!

I have spent much of yesterday and today listening to Christmas music on line while I work on my many current projects and the above hymn is my absolute favorite carol.

It is so plaintive and haunting; so stark and simple. There is the same spareness about the song as exists in a silvery field of frost. A sigh of wind. The elegant lines of bare trees. It feels like plainsong.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

The song lacks the robust rejoicing of "Joy to the World." It doesn't have the gravity of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." And for majesty, it is hard to beat the "Allelujah Chorus" (even if it was composed for the Easter section of the Messiah).

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

The lyrics tug at my heart. Though surrounded by splendour unimaginable, the mother's kiss is all that matters. Not the angels and archangels, not the cherubim & seraphim. The mother and her love.

A baby knows its parents instinctively. And, as long as there is love surrounding him, that is all that matters. That is enough.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

We give our hearts.

We give them every day.

We give them when we kiss our beloved's cheek on our way out the door in the morning.

We give them on our lunch break, when we put a dollar in the red kettle and say, "Merry Christmas" to the kind-hearted soul swinging the bell.

We give them in the afternoon, as we hold a friend's hand and ask, "What's wrong?"

We give them in the evening, when we offer our encouragement to a new knitter, just starting her first sweater, lace shawl, or sock.

And when we tuck our children into bed.

We don't have the riches of the wise men. We do not have the livestock which the shepherds tended (well, MOST of us don't - I know some of you raise sheep.)

But we always and evermore are in possession of the only thing that matters. Our loving hearts.

And that is enough.

Just to spread the joy around, I will be giving away a free pattern (of your choice - Spruce excluded) to one commenter a day through Christmas, randomly chosen by Mrs. Claus (just me - don't get too excited).

I'll announce the previous day's winner in each post this month, If you are the winner, email me your preference at susanpandorf@comcast.net and I'll email your pattern right out to you.

Doesn't that sound like a lot of fun?

Yesterday's winner is: Nebraska Knitter. Email me, girl...

Now aren't you glad you left a comment?


Anonymous said...

Your writing is so beautiful and makes you take time to read slowly and thoughtfully. At the end you are relaxed and go aaah. Thank you.

A 30-something femme createrix said...

I look at my son, who is 7 and over 5 feet tall and I all too often wonder where the years go, lol. I still remember holding his whole little body in the crook of one arm!

Heidi U in CT said...

Such a wonderful holiday message. Thank you for sharing!! I saw my nieces today and couldn't believe that they are 20 and 19!! I remember when they were born!!! Now they're looking at jobs, school, and the future! Scary!

Anonymous said...

this post made me so melancholy for a number of reasons, I couldn't stop reading, and then re-read it again.

What I am reminded of and miss this time of year:

...my parents.

...tucking my kids in at night after singing a song about "Pretty Little Ponies"...(the song title escapes me~

*Note to Self; google Pretty Little Ponies.

What I don't miss:

..."Hi Honey, I'm home!" because we work together 24/7 now. :O)

thank you for the lovely words~

Many Blessings,

Pat said...

That's my favorite carol. There's something so basic about it - everything that matters. Guess I'm not one of those triumphal sorts.

With the number of patterns you create, I don't see how you can worry about accomplishing enough! I have a question about the photo of cat and chart below - I've never seen that kind of chart. Is it a different convention? Or are all the dark squares missing stitches, as in the charts I'm used to?

Happy Holidays,

vickib said...

You're not kidding.The older I get, the faster the time goes. Kind of sad, really.

Kathleen said...

I'll say. The last few years have flow by and left me here holding my knitting. Thanks for a beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

That is one of my favorite carols, too. Thanks for posting it.

Kristen said...

I know I feel the time passing too quickly. There aren't enough hours in the day and there is so much to be done. *worry* *fret*

kaykatrn said...

That is the chilliest scene from Mr Holst. That is what winter is all about. That and to make you appreciate spring!

Debbie W said...

That's my favorite Christmas hymn, too

Chery said...

I have seen that love: my son's second daughter has been 'gone' for 9 years, since she was 14 months old. She is back! It's a joy to see my son and granddaughter connect again. That is love.

Leslie said...

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is also my favorite Christmas carol. I'm glad you posted about it because it reminds me to fetch out the Christmas music before our guests arrive.
Thank you for your lovely column today.
- Leslie

Lolly said...

Since I'm up and I'm here, I'll leave a comment. Not sure if this will count for 12/8 or 12/9.
Merry Christmas!

islander said...

it all started with a Saturday yarn sale and now I find myself reading your blog to start my day. Holst is a musician for musicans, sending us out into the universe only to find home an family is where we are grounded.
thanks especially for your thoughts today


greta said...

so TRUE!
Blessings to you in each moment,
as they fly by....

Arly said...

yes, the days , weeks, years go by quickly encouraging us not to waste the time that is remaining.

old lady said...

It seems time is slipping away faster every year. Somewhere I read time goes faster each year - think of your age as a fraction. When you're 5 that year is 1/5th of your life. 20 is 1/20th. As you age what you're living is smaller - hence time (seems) to be going by faster. But yet - it's still 24 hours in a day. But it seems to be slipping by...

Lise said...

Thank you for sharing your musings on such a beautiful hymn. From now on, I will hear it in a whole new way.

I remember that every once in a while my mother would write down every little thing she did in a day, and then we all understood where the time went, even when there wasn't as much tangible "stuff" to see.


Donna Lee said...

It's only when we give our hearts that we get to feel them.

Unknown said...

Your writing always moves me. I get all teary-eyed. Even the way you describe a pattern is pure beauty. We have so much to be grateful for. Wow.
I didn't know the lines by Gustav Holst, but I do know his Jupiter from the Plantes, and I love it so much. It's such a beautiful and grand piece of music.

Madeline said...

Where does the time go indeed! I love the yarns in your 12/7 post. Berocco Ultra Alpaca is wonderful, affordable, heavenly stuff. I like your muted colors. Must be the snow/sleet storm that is making those rich shades comforting. But then the pizzazz for New Year's Eve is nice!

Susie B said...

I love your writing. I know what you mean--this year has flown with a new grandbaby and kids moving back home. The love between a parent and child is so very special and a wonderful thing to see.

ikkinlala said...

I don't think I've ever seen or heard that carol before.

Anonymous said...

Very gloomy today. Lots of snow. The sunflower and blue sky on your blog is nice to see.


Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful carol, one of the real joys of the season. While I'm Jewish, I love Christmas music and know and sing it as much as possible. Why not -- it's beautiful. Hope you know the Personent Hodie as well as Let All Mortal Flesh. Happy holidays.

PenCraft said...

You always find such lovely lyrics and poems. How do you do it?

Diana - NYC said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely words and thoughts with us -- as well as your yarn stash. It is a delight to visit your site.

andrea said...

I too wonder where the years in 2000 have gone....

rachelanderson on rav said...

What lovely thoughts. Thank you.

Unknown said...

The same Holst who composed "The Planets" wrote a Christmas carol? Must go listen to that one. I always liked "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which is also a bit melancholy to start with.

For time passing, I suddenly realized that my furbaby GSD will be five years old soon. I was there when he was born -- seems like yesterday!

Happy holidays --
Liz (arcadienne on Ravelry)

joyknits said...

Thank you - that's one of my favorites as well. Of course I'll have the tune stuck in my head for the rest of the day ;)

Miss Bea said...

The year has flown indeed! Lovely post.

Unknown said...

I came across your blog when I was searching for mehendi based patterns on Ravelry. Your patterns are gorgeous!

Kaz said...

love reading your blog it certainly makes me think about things

Suzanne said...

I spend my weekends thinking I will get so much accomplished and then the next thing I know it is Monday and I am back at work.

We had a snowy rainy day and that Sunflower is a nice bright flower to look at.

Rabbitknitz said...

What a lovely post. Sometimes contemplation is better than exhuberance; a little downtime is good for reformatting the psyche.

Anonymous said...

Even were you not haveing the give away I would've commented on this. It's thoughtful and in accord with the time. Thank you. It is also one of my favorite hymns.
on ravelry, alwysknit

Emma said...

The *text* for In the Bleak Midwinter is actually by Christina Rosetti. It's a favorite of mine, too!