SOMETIMES A LIGHT SURPRISES
I've got candles.
Jenny is on the couch watching the first and only good Harry Potter movie (Hagrid is telling Harry you are the boy who lived).
The dog barked all night because we had guests.
Yes, I said guests. Probably my first guests in a century or so. I read a piece today by Jennipher Phipher not-so-Strange, a friend of mine (who spells her name funny), about fruitcake and hospitality and the coming of the kingdom. The Fruitcake Piece.
Something like that. Fruitcake, anyway.
Made me decide to invite somebody over. Jenny says, "what did you do that for?" She meant, do I really need to help clean up the house?
We ate well. My soup and brownies with cranberries. Mad Housewife Red. Bread Edwin made. Catherine even ate some of the soup.
Harry just met Ron Weasley. It's true you really have the . . . the. . . scar. Wicked!
We talked and talked and talked. Then we talked some more. If you know Edwin and Jennifer, you know.
Jennifer hates Flannery. We love her. She hates Salinger. She only read my ironic Salinger mediation because she loves me. Jenny pipes up and says she hates Flannery too. I say it's because she had a bad teacher. You cannot really be in this family and hate "Good Country People."
We talk about Advent. About some guy named Craig, I think, who does apologetics. Do people still do that?
Friends in England. What Edwin and Jennifer did at Tolkien's grave.
How Catherine had her first crush on Edward, the son of my friends in Oxford that they stayed with. She wrote him a long letter when she left. She says, "we only had ten or eleven hours together!"
Two Guadalupe candles lit on the old trestle. Mickey Mouse puzzle as hot pad. Herbal tea. The children are drawing and coloring with Jenny. Elizabeth takes video after video off the table and toddles over to her sister to show her. Then takes them back and puts them down. Jennifer says that the baby is imitating her. Because she never really cleans house, just picks things up and walks around with them and puts them back down where they were.
I start talking with my crazy Italian accent, lots of hand gestures, and Elizabeth starts imitating me. She is also good at making elephant noises. These things will surely come in handy in the fullness of time.
We keep trying to come up with Flannery stories that Jennifer and Jenny will like. They aren't impressed. Then, we talk about manic-depressive William Cowper, Jane Austen's favorite poet. We sing as much as we can remember of his loveliest hymn:
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
The last verse explains the "sometimes" of the title. Cowper says that "Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit shall bear;/ Though all the fields should wither,"
and lots of other bad subjunctives occur too, he (we?) "cannot help but rejoice"?
"It's pretty to think so," I say. Edwin gives me that look like, Oh Joe quite pretending to be agnostic.
But, I'll agree to this, at least. Sometimes, really, a light surprises. Elizabeth dances to my harmonica playing and gets angry because she can't make the same sounds when she blows. We drink more wine. Catherine tells me what she wrote in the letter she left at C. S. Lewis's grave. Edwin keeps talking until the door of his van shuts. As he should. I'll miss him when they move to Kentucky.
Fortunately, I think we solved some problems. First, we finished half a big pot of soup (too good to describe). I invented a new dessert, even though Jennifer couldn't eat it due to fear of losing a filling. We downed a bottle of Mad Housewife. Jenny and Jennifer now know at least ten more reasons why they are wrong for not liking Flannery. Children danced and Catherine drew and, at one point, explained, what happens when someone is pregnant but can't take care of children (it's called adoption). Which then reminded me of my other friend, Jennifer Phifer Strange. By the way, girls, can we get some new names?
Anyway, Advent rolls on, heading for hell or kingdom come and possibly a lot of snow this weekend. And tomorrow is my brother's birthday. Noelito, as we called him. It's dark December. And there's nothing more depressing than Xmas cheer. The fields really have withered.
But sometimes a light surprises.
I blow out the Guadalupe candles.
Harry and Ron save Hermione from the troll.
Five points each for Gryffindor.