Deck the halls!

Already Sirius XM has converted its ’40s popular hits channel to Christmas music, everything from Bing Crosby singing “Winter Wonderland” to Willie Nelson adding his signal voice to whatever.

Winter Wonderland” is a song written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard Bernhard Smith. Due to its seasonal theme, it is often regarded as a Christmas song in the Northern Hemisphere. Since its original recording by Richard Himber, it has been covered by over 200 different artists. The song’s lyrics were about a couple’s romance during the winter season. A later version of “Winter Wonderland” (which was printed in 1947) included a “new children’s lyric” that transformed it “from a romantic winter interlude to a seasonal song about playing in the snow.” The snowman mentioned in the song’s bridge was changed from a minister to a circus clown, and the promises the couple made in the final verse were replaced with lyrics about frolicking.

Though I feel it is early to begin the seasonal buzz (I usually have the patience to wait until November 25th to make it a round month of celebration), I have nonetheless eagerly succumbed to the spell. This morning as I was digging about the bottom drawer of my desk for some exotic printing paper, I found the Aurora® Teddy Bear Aurora World, Inc. Pico Rivera, CA 90660 USA (surface washable all new materials polyester fibres & plastic pellets) handmade in Cianjur, Indonésia Reg. No, PA-4296(KR) 2188258 SEP2018.

Cianjur (Sundanese: ᮎᮤᮃᮔ᮪ᮏᮥᮁ) is a town and district in the West Java province of Indonesia, and is the seat of Cianjur Regency. The district of Cianjur is located along one of the main roads between Jakarta (120 km to the northwest) and Bandung (60 km to the east). The population was 158,125 at the 2010 Census and 173,265 at the 2020 Census; the official estimate as at mid 2022 was 176,368. Because of its location, some of Cianjur’s residents commute to work in Bandung.

I cannot recall where I picked up this plaything. I’ve hung onto it like a child clings to its favourite toy. While it certainly doesn’t compete with the Gund or Steiff teddy bear I purchased years ago from MacLean Young Picture Framers (Klaus and Marilyn LInnenbruegger) on Mill Street it has nicely survived being squeezed into a narrow space in one of my desk drawers along with those private letters and other scraps one keeps forever but seldom looks at again. Its singularity is however now renowned.  It is the only Christmas decoration we have.  We formerly accommodated the limitation by arguing that we weren’t going to be in Canada for Christmas so what did it matter. But even given our change of plans this year we’re not likely to enlarge upon our collection. Besides our neighbours have already begun mounting Christmas decorations on and about their property so we’ll have lots to see. In the meantime I am taxing Apple Music to its limits for Christmas music though I admit for the genunine appeal of Christmas I always return to Handel’s inimitable Messiah.

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel. The text was compiled from the King James Bible and the Coverdale Psalter by Charles Jennens. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

As a matter of record (I am always aware that this blog is by design never estranged from the feature of a common diary) we had a visit today from a family member. He came to chat with us, partly to catch up, partly to inform us of the impending change in his life.  He is a sober, thoughtful man who doesn’t require direction from us but we were naturally pleased to be thought of as approachable. We ended lunching together at the Barley Mow adjacent the Mississippi River in the centre of town. The food – for our entire party – was applauded as the nec plus ultra! I would unhesitatingly refer others to this particular venue.  In harmony with the pub atmosphere I had the fish and chips.  Every particle of the meal was expertly prepared.  The chips were superb; the fish divine; the small salad perfectly composed; the sauces for fish and chips lovely. Everything arrived hot. The service was professional and mature. We weren’t rushed.  The entire meal was a most favourable outing as a result.

The Barley Mow (Roud 944) is a cumulative song celebrated in the traditions of folk music of England, Ireland, and Scotland. William Chappell transcribed the lyrics in his two-volume work The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855).

Almonte Barley Mow

Precedent to settling in the booth by the river we briefly tooled about town, passing by the places which even we haven’t frequented for years, places like my old office building at 77 Little Bridge St next to Baker Bob, our former residence at 4 Laura Crescent and the new townhouses and century-old dwellings on Coleman’s Island. The short detour was sufficient to remind us that Almonte has an inexpressible attraction. It was no small serendipity that the Barley Mow sports the municipal address of 79 LIttle Bridge Street. When I came to practice law in Almonte almost 50 years ago I recall having seen the stone building (then known as “the Ironworks”) which now houses the Barley Mow languishing in a regrettable state of disrepair.

We asked a long-standing friend of mine to join us for luncheon.  She was as always an incomparable dining companion, gleefully contributing vigour and animation to our hitherto demur conversation. Another serendipitous encounter was with Stephen Brathwaite who has been a driving force in the improvement of Almonte for many, many years. His demeanour was as usual vibrant and enlivening, coloured with a waggish flavour. His presence at the Barley Mow completed the authenticity of our luncheon worthy of the restaurant’s history, endurance and achievement.

I am so charmed by our reunion today at the Barley Mow that I am persuaded to subscribe to the outing the character of our first Christmas celebration of the season.  Certainly the stormy weather today and the draughts of snow and beer (albeit non-alcoholic) made for a festive occasion.