A bit of miscellany on this first morning of the New Year:
We have been in and around Kentucky for the past couple of weeks; Lord willing, we'll be back in New York early this coming week. It was a white Christmas in Sturgis, though unlike New York, the snow has the good sense to come down in a quantity of an inch or two--enough to make a few snow angels, throw a few snowballs--and then go away. You could say I'm less than thrilled about returning to the Frozen Apple.
We also visited the Jefferson Davis memorial, which was closed, of course, since it was Christmas Eve. This is the plaque out front. I constantly marvel that Kentucky, a border state in the Civil War, was the birthplace of the presidents of both nations involved in the conflict. On a related note, Audra's relatives in Sturgis gave me Ken Burns' PBS documentary on the Civil War on DVD; it was instantly considered a masterwork on the War and still retains said status. Very much looking forward to once again viewing the very thorough, balanced, poignant take on the War.
Having depleted my supply of Tito's Vodka just before leaving for Kentucky, I took advantage of my time here to replenish the "medicine cabinet," as it were, with some Four Roses bourbon, complete with a couple of tumblers. Seminary is often made bearable, survivable really, when one has good friends over for a shared meal and libations to follow. As this, my favorite bourbon, is mostly unavailable outside its commonwealth of origin, I'm grateful for the chance to have some within reach.
On my way today to pick up said bourbon, I passed St. Brigid Catholic Church in Vine Grove, KY. The communities around here are quite strongly military, being just a stone's throw away from Fort Knox, yet there's still livestock and crop farmers around in this very rural, very blue-collar area. As such, I always like to see historic, traditional Christian churches in areas such as these, and especially those whose builders had the good sense to make a church look like a church (and any overt devotion to the Celtic saints never hurts, of course).
Also out front is the crèche with Christ present; we have recently begun to introduce Nativity traditions such as the empty crèche prior to Nativity and an altered version of the Advent wreath (six red candles with one large white one in the middle to reflect our liturgical colors and preceding Sundays). It was surprising to see such an aware, Catholic community doing those things that are Catholic during Christmastide; it's refreshing and too seldom seen today; kudos also for being active enough in such a small, rural community to be able to run the school shown in the background.
Tonight we stayed up to greet the new year--all except the oft-smiling Laura, that is, who went down mercifully easily tonight. The time with grandparents has been bittersweet; we're not sure if this will be the last Christmas season in Kentucky for us for a good long while. If were are placed as a clergy family following seminary, the holidays are largely booked and travel is often right out (though the girls may all get away from time to time when the wee ones get older).
We spent a wonderful evening playing card games (Uno, and Phase 10). I grew up playing Uno and the rummy game Shanghai with my mother, aunts, and grandmother, and consider the activity to be one of the lost treasures of visitation and company. A classmate of mine from South Dakota speaks of long, winter evenings where snowed-in families were automatically bound together by this pastime. Hope and Kate stayed up the entire time; we were shocked not to find them collapsed in a heap in the back play room before calling them in to watch the ball drop (and watch their perplexed faces at why so many people would pay to stand in a public street, in the cold, surrounded by all that noise and light...yeah, we're anxious to leave NY). The sparklers were, of course, wholly on a whim and just too fun not do do. And, yes, we were all outside without coats. 50 degrees, on New Year's Eve. God bless the South.
Could not pass up the $3.15 mini-bottle of Maker's Mark at the liquor store check out; my father-in-law and I split it at midnight in a toast to the new year. May our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ continue to be with us all, making the good confession with us as we seek to proclaim His death and resurrection in quiet godliness and dignity (yesterday's reading in 1 Tim., cf. 1 Tim. 2.2). Blessed civil New Year to all.