Day 255: Christmas Day Eve

So many interesting things have occurred this Xmas weekend...most in the lovely town of Cambridge. Cambridge, MA...home to extreme intellectual snobbery and all kinds of funky cafes that overcharge you for unpronounceable beverages. I hate to say it, but I love the town. Sadly, our trip o'er the world has shown me that I often love the intellectual centers that boast self-consciously funky stores and an extreme mark up on well-labeled organic products. Claire, of Berkeley, CA, obviously hates such places.

Cambridge Event #1: In an attempt to take better advantage of the lovely town of Boston before we evacuate for Northern Nowhere (aka NewHampshireLiveFreeOrDie!) we attended a play at the ever experimental American Repertory Theatre (ART). The show playing was The Importance of Being Earnest. An appropriate comedy for a family outing, one might say. Except all the characters were played by two men, the sole actors in the company Ridiculusmus, and the homosexual undertones were passionately highlighted.** The play started out as normally as one could expect in such a performance; awkward exits to go change were ignored by the audience, and the costumes were carefully, if quickly, altered. AS the show went on, however, things derailed quickly. Eventually, it was just one guy holding a bunch of hats and talking in numerous voices, while the other played the main role wearing just a banana hammock and waving a pink frilly skirt around when he was meant to be playing his female counterpart. It was hysterical; disorienting but certainly entertaining. The play did undoubteldy accomplish its goals, however, as we walked out feeling cultural and superior to anyone who had stayed home that night.

Cambridge Event #2: Christmas Carols and sermons on Christmas Eve. As a non-religiously-affiliated-but-Xmas-celebrating family, we tend to go to some kind of Church-y service on Christmas Eve. We like singing carols and lighting candles is the basic gist of the evening. This year we tried something new. We went to a Swedenborgian Church. Swedenborg is a scientist from the late seventeenth/early eighteenth centuries, whose work in the sciences of the day gave him many mystical experiences, prompting him to spend the last 27 years of his life writing prolifically on religion. he is most easily qualified as a Christian mystic, I guess, meaning he sort of ran with the Christian ideas away from orthodox theology. His lessons were quite nice, all kinds of find your inner light, be responsible to the world, and this world is heaven or hell for each of us type stuff. He influenced all the Emerson, Thoreau type people, apparently, so he is respected in this aforementioned area of intellectual snobbery.

We went to his Church; gorgeous church with white walls and dark beams. Very New England, especially with the only understated stained glass I've ever seen in my bright primary colors for this Church! Nice carols, nice people all around; general New England puritan non-religious church service type fare. Except for the main message, delivered not by the pastor, who could not be with us that Xmas Eve, but by some dude approximately my age. When he started talking about the "magical magic" of Christmas as a child, I held my editor's tongue. When he began describing at length the process of picking through gifts under his tree WEEKS before Xmas, I ignored my inner tendency to mock his overachieving Harvard self. However, when he started lighting a match every time he said the word "light" (in a speech about sharing your inner light with the world, this was a considerable amount), it took all my self-control to avoid eye contact with my suddenly vibrating family and keep it together. Seriously. No wonder the world doesn't really take people my age seriously.

Happily, there were more carols afterwards. We also got to ring the big Church bell on our way out. Another task checked off the life list.

But that was it for Cambridge. We are now in New York with the small beings, who are currently refusing to be lulled to sleep as they talk about presents, and Santa and all good Christmas-y things. I am writing my way through a food coma to start some "real work" and thinking of how lovely it is at this time of year to think of everyone gathered together in warm little houses all over the country. I also like to think that everyone without such luxuries is also getting a little extra attention this time of year.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Claire and Lara are so happy to be sharing a little bit of it with you.

**In the play, the character Algernon has a convenient imaginary friend who is frequently about to die so he can leave his family to go party. This friend is named Bunbury, apparently a word known during Wilde's time as an alternative name for homosexual. I did not know this fact, and felt it should be shared.

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