Thursday, December 26, 2019

Happy Boxing Day

Don and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, be it Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Festivus. We had Christmas brunch with friends and then went home to take a nap, since neither of us has recovered from our two-week driving trip to Oklahoma, which was most productive and we were happy to see millions (yes, millions) of relatives, though after living in Arizona for 35 years I can no longer tolerate cold weather. I'll tell you all about my Oklahoma trip soon, Dear Reader, when we aren't both bloated from too many cookies and latkes. Today I feel I might as well talk about Boxing Day. Boxing Day isn’t much celebrated in the States. In fact, I never heard of it until I was a teenager. For me, December 26 is the day that Good King Wenceslas looked out.

Until I was about ten, I thought that Good King Wenceslas looked out upon the feets of Stephen. At the time, I supposed the reason that Good King Wenceslas was looking upon Stephen’s feets was that Stephen was barefoot. Since the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even, it occurred to the King that Stephen’s feets were very cold. And so, moved by the poor man’s plight, the King had his goodly page bring him flesh and bring him wine, and bring him pine logs hither. Then page and monarch, forth they went together, through the rude wind’s wild lament, so that they could bear them thither and see him dine.

I did eventually discover that Stephen was not yonder peasant, but the Saint upon whose feast day Good King Wenceslas looked out. That realization took some of the joy out of the story for me, for the the thought of the actual Saint Stephen’s broken corpse lying under a pile of rocks doesn’t comfort me much. I loved the idea of poor cold-footed Peasant Stephen standing in the king’s toasty footprints and receiving an armload of pine logs and meat and wine for Christmas dinner, and to this day, I am warmed by the image of this act of compassion.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

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