Toward the end of the last several years, I heard a lot of people talking about how glad they would be to see the year go, how the next one had to be better. I’m not hearing that this year, and I don’t think it’s because 2018 has been all lollipops and rainbows, or even candles and saffron buns. No. I think it’s that there has been a slow realization that we are living in a dark time. That positive change is not going to come all at once with the turning of the year. We all knew that, I think, but…there’s knowing, and there’s knowing.
When you know something is wrong, identifying it can be such a relief. A lot of my friends with disabilities and other health issues have talked about this–how happy they were to get a diagnosis, how others didn’t always understand that and would be upset on their behalves. But upset is a reaction for if you thought nothing was wrong and suddenly got the news that something was. When you know something is wrong and now you know what…well. You can find coping mechanisms. You can begin to plan. Maybe you can even fix it–which is much harder when you don’t know something is wrong in the first place.
And here we are in the dark of the year. Santa Lucia Day has come around again. And the reason I started doing these posts twelve years ago (!!!) is that Santa Lucia Day is a holiday that comes before the solstice. Firmly and canonically before. We light the candles, we make the lussekatter, knowing that there is more and deeper darkness to come.
And we do it anyway. Because this is what we do. Because this is who we choose to be for each other.
There’s often a song in my head for Santa Lucia Day, other than the traditional one, and this year it’s Case/Lang/Veirs “I want to be here” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dskj0nqnIIY). “Not bracing for what comes next” sounds good to me…especially because I feel like being present with each other, just that, gives us the strength to deal with what’s next without having to flinch from it. And don’t we all need to hear that the hungry fools who rule the world can’t ruin everything? They can’t. There is bread, there is hope, there is work to make things better. Even when all we can do for a minute is be here together.
I kept the idea of making lemon curd from last year. That strand of caring for someone else that helped with caring for myself ended up working very well for me, and I’m looking forward to continuing with it. This year I’m about to try the result of kneading the dried blueberries into the saffron bread instead of placing them on top. I’m hopeful. But I’m also willing to keep iterating. I’m willing to keep trying to make things better, acknowledging setbacks along the way, acknowledging that the path to better is not always smooth.
The other thing I tried this year: last week there was a different saffron bread. This one was savory, stuffed with olives and tomatoes and cheese and prosciutto. It worked on the first try, not perfect but good, and I now have another means of sharing with others, another bread of light in a dark time. Not a replacement. Just another angle to try, and we need all of those we can get. And…maybe having the blueberries protected in some dough will keep them from falling away. It’s worth a try.
Sometimes the people we love are faltering in the dark, and there’s not that much we can do to help except be there and bear witness. Sometimes there’s more. We can stumble on wanting so badly to help. Sorting out which situations are which takes practice.
We’re getting a lot of practice, these dark days. We are here. We reach for each other. We learn how to do it better, and sometimes we fail, but even when we don’t, we have more darkness to get through.
But we do it together. And that makes all the difference in the world.
I bake too much for myself every Christmas, and I do it on purpose, knowing that these cookies will go to that dear one, that this bread is for another, that the experimental fudge (…stay tuned…) for yet a third. Because we don’t light the candles for just ourselves, we don’t sing to just ourselves. That’s not how any of this works.
Thank you for being the lights in my darkness, this year, next year, all the years. Happy Santa Lucia Day.
2007: https://mrissa.dreamwidth.org/2007/12/12/ and https://mrissa.dreamwidth.org/502729.html
2006: https://mrissa.dreamwidth.org/380798.html — the post that started it all! Lots more about the process and my own personal lussekatt philosophy here!