As a child, I remember hearing the carol Good King Wenceslas and wondering who are these people? and what does this have to do with Christmas? As it turns out Wenceslas was, in fact, the Duke of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), where he was revered as a benevolent monarch and devout Christian. As you may recall, in the carol, the kindly king set out to feed the poor on the day after Christmas.
December 26, the second day of Christmas, is celebrated as the Feast of Saint Stephen. Stephen was Christianity’s first martyr, and the New Testament book of Acts, chapters six and seven, recounts his story. December 26 is, of course, also known as Boxing Day and is a bank holiday in Great Britain, Australia, and in some Canadian provinces, as well. Although opinions vary, most scholars generally agree that the name Boxing Day is derived from the custom of “boxing up” the holiday feast leftovers to give to one’s staff. Today, in the UK, Boxing Day has evolved to be a shopping day as well as a time to give gifts to friends and service people and, I suppose, staff, as well.
The T&C family Boxing Day tradition is to enjoy dessert with our good friends, the Rs. Although we met only four short years ago, our families “clicked,” and we have spent many, many Sunday nights together having supper and enjoying one another’s company. Because the Mister and I have usually hosted family over Christmas Eve and Day, the Rs are kind to invite us to their lovely home for a bit of a respite. This year it was especially fun to venture out in the crisp and beautiful snow.
Each year, we choose a theme and then secretly draw names for a gift exchange. In the past, we have had to find gifts that began with the same letter as our intended recipient’s name. Last year’s theme was movies; this year’s was books. I received a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated as well as a copy of an Henri Nouwen devotional guide; the gift I gave was Tight Lines: Ten Years of the Yale Anglers’ Journal. I think it was a hit. I was enchanted by the arborvitae in the birch pots that Mrs. R had placed in the dining room. I love the woodland look, the perfect complement to the old Spode (I think) bowl.
The Rs’ daughter played a few carols for us. She is a student at Clemson, where she is studying history and French, and will be leaving in a few days for her second semester abroad. She will be in Belgium as well as in Paris. I am sure Mrs. R and I will need to go check on her at some point this spring. (Oh, how I wish!)
Thanks, dear Rs, for a wonderful evening and a great tradition!