Alleluia! Merry Christmas! Today is the Solemnity of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ in Bethlehem, as described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Today is the First Day in the Octave of Christmas. And today is the First Day of Christmas.
“Christmas” is a compound word originating in the term “Christ’s Mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. By the early to mid fourth century the Church assigned the date of Christmas to December 25th, most probably to agree with the date of March 25th as that of the conception of Jesus (the Annunciation); in his work Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus (c. 130–202) identified the conception of Jesus as March 25th and linked it to the crucifixion at the time of the equinox, with the birth of Jesus nine months after on December 25th at the time of the solstice. In the Early Middle Ages, Christmas Day was overshadowed by Epiphany, which in the west focused on the visit of the magi. The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066. By the High Middle Ages, the holiday had become so prominent that chroniclers routinely noted where various magnates celebrated Christmas. Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention. The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form. In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas, and celebration of the holiday was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. Christmas fell out of favor in the United States after the American Revolution, when it was considered an English custom. In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas (popularly known by its first line: Twas the Night Before Christmas). The poem helped popularize the tradition of exchanging gifts, and seasonal Christmas shopping began to assume economic importance. In 1843 Charles Dickens wrote the novel A Christmas Carol, which helped revive the ‘spirit’ of Christmas and seasonal merriment; superimposing his secular vision of the holiday on the existing religious basis, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as decorating the house, putting up a Christmas Tree (a German custom dating from the 18th century, which made its way to England during the reign of the German Hanoverians, and had reached the United States by about 1870), family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. Since 1969, Christmas is one of only two Solemnities that are celebrated with an Octave (the other one being Easter). It is worth noting that in the secular world, Christmas ends today, but in the Church, the Christmas Season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year will be on Sunday, January 10th. Today is also a Civil Holiday, with no mail delivery. Today is also the First Day of Christmas, with a Partridge in a Pear Tree; we shall be keeping a count of the Days of Christmas in these Daily Updates until Twelfth Night.
Last night, when I was about to go to bed, instead we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas at 7:00 pm. (And worth staying up a little later than usual.)
I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, posted to Facebook that today is Christmas, and put the flag out before we left for work. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, said the Eighth Day of my Holy Family Novena, and said the First Day of my Epiphany Novena. When we got to work we signed the Early Out list. Today was the first day of the two-day Heavy Business Volume Days for the Christmas holiday, and today was a Paid Holiday, for which we got paid time and a half for our hours worked today (more anon). Richard was first on Macau Mini Baccarat; when they closed his table, he changed Blackjack cards, then became the dealer on the Shoe Blackjack game in our High Stakes area. I was the Relief Dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and a Blackjack table; when they closed Richard’s table, I just broke Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and the Blackjack table; halfway through our shift they made the Mini Baccarat table into a Macau Mini Baccarat table. We did not get out early; they could have let me out early, but not both of us, and I did not want to get out early, go home, take a nap, then drive back to the casino to pick Richard up, so we took our names off of the Early Out list. The Full Moon arrived at 5:12 am. And on one of the breaks we took together in ADR 1, during the every-half-hour hot seat drawing by Santa and an elf, Richard won a Casino jacket.
On our way home we stopped to get Pepsi’s for Liz Ellen, at her request. Once home I read the morning paper, then got together Liz Ellen’s monthly package of stuff, and made a CD of the juggling and hooping photos and videos that I had taken on my phone. While I was doing that, Michelle came over. Liz Ellen and I then went to Cash Magic and played video poker; I lost $20.00, which I think means I am only $10.00 down for this trip. (Better than usual.) We then went by Wal-Mart, but they were closed (everything seems to be closed, save for the convenience stores). When we got back I uploaded photos from Liz Ellen’s phone to the computer (she had photos from last Christmas I had not seen, plus the Christmas photos she had taken thus far this season). We then researched music editing apps for her phone, and I found https://mp3cut.net/, which is a free online music editor, which should work out just fine for her needs when she gets home to her own computer. (Until the other day, she did not know that you could edit music files; she has music files from her juggling and hooping programs she would like to edit.) Our New Orleans Pelicans lost their away game with the Miami Heat by the score of 88 to 94 in overtime.
Cody arrived about 3:00 pm, and we did presents and stockings. Matthew called me about 3:45 pm, and we passed the phone around so that he could talk to Richard and Michelle. Michelle noticed that my phone was not right, and when I took out the battery to check it, it was swollen (more anon). We then ate Christmas Dinner, and at 5:45 I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is the Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (died c.33), and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!). It is the Second Day of Christmas, with our gift today being two turtle doves. It is Boxing Day in Commonwealth countries, the day when one historically gave Christmas boxes to tradespeople and employees. And tomorrow is the first day of Kwanzaa, a relatively new holiday celebrating African-American values and culture. Before we leave for work we will say our goodbyes to Liz Ellen, who will be gone on her way back to Kentucky by the time we get home from work. Tomorrow is the second day of the two-day Heavy Business Volume Days for the Christmas holiday. We will work our eight hours, and in the afternoon I will go over to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. I will then go over to Verizon and see if I can get a new battery for my Galaxy Note 4. And I will do my best to go to the 4:00 pm Mass. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing a home game with the Houston Rockets tomorrow evening, and I will report the score of the game in Sunday’s Daily Update.
On this First Day of the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!), our Parting Quote comes to us from Vic Chesnutt, American singer-songwriter. Born in 1964 in Athens, Georgia, he was an adoptee and was raised in Zebulon, Georgia, where he first started writing songs at the age of five. When he was 13 Chesnutt declared that he was an atheist, a position that he maintained for the rest of his life. In 1983 at age 18 a car accident left him partially paralyzed; he was in a wheelchair, with limited use of his hands. After his recovery he left Zebulon and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. The poetry he read there (by Stevie Smith, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, W. H. Auden, Stephen Crane, and Emily Dickinson) served to inspire and influence him. Around 1985 Chesnutt moved to Athens and joined the band La-Di-Das with future member of the Dashboard Saviors Todd McBride. After leaving that group he began performing solo on a regular basis at the 40 Watt Club; it was there that he was spotted by Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who produced Chesnutt’s first two albums, Little (1990) and West of Rome(1991). In 1993 Chesnutt was the subject of filmmaker Peter Sillen’s independently produced documentary, Speed Racer: Welcome to the World of Vic Chesnutt, which was shown on PBS. He also had a small role as “Terence” in the 1996 Billy Bob Thornton movie Sling Blade. Also in 1996 he was exposed to a wider audience with the release of the tribute album Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, the proceeds from which went to the Sweet Relief Fund, a non-profit charity that maintains a financial fund from which professional musicians can draw from when in need of medical care or financial needs. The album consisted of Chesnutt covers by famous musicians including Cracker, Garbage, The Smashing Pumpkins (with Red Red Meat), Madonna, R.E.M., Soul Asylum, and Live. Chesnutt recorded with many other groups and artists. He made two albums with fellow Athens group Widespread Panic (WSP), under the name of brute. Chesnutt wrote “Aunt Avis” and co-wrote “Blight”, which are often performed live by Widespead Panic. “Aunt Avis” appeared on WSP’s album Bombs & Butterflies, and Chesnutt made a guest appearance as well. The 1997 video for “Aunt Avis” was directed by Billy Bob Thornton and featured Chesnutt. Chesnutt’s 1998 album The Salesman and Bernadette was recorded with alt-country group Lambchop as the backing band. He was also a supporter of medical marijuana, which he said helped with his medical problems. He contributed the track “Weed to the Rescue” to the 1998 Hempilation II charity album, with proceeds going to NORML, an American organization dedicated to marijuana legalization. The album Merriment in 2000 was a collaborative effort between Chesnutt and Kelly and Nikki Keneipp, with Chesnutt writing and singing the songs, and the Keneipps playing the music. The 2005 album Ghetto Bells featured famed guitarist Bill Frisell, whom Chesnutt met in 2004 at the renowned Century of Song concert series at the German festival RuhrTriennale. Ghetto Bells also featured the legendary eccentric lyricist and composer Van Dyke Parks on accordion and keyboards. In the winter of 2006 he recorded North Star Deserter at the Hotel2Tango in Montreal. It was released on September 11, 2007 by Constellation Records. The record included contributions from Constellation artists Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, as well as Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto. He also appeared as a guest musician on Cowboy Junkies’ 2007 album Trinity Revisited, a 20th anniversary edition of their classic album The Trinity Session. In 2008, Athens, Georgia based Elephant 6 collective recording artists Elf Power collaborated with Chesnutt on the album Dark Developments, released as performed by Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power, and the Amorphous Strums. In 2009 he worked with many of the same contributors to the album North Star Deserter to release the album At the Cut in September. Later in 2009 he recorded the album titled Skitter on Take-off which was inspired by the his two previous albums. In 2009, he sang on the track “Grim Augury” on from the album Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley, Sparklehorse, and director David Lynch. He died from an overdose of muscle relaxants that had left him in a coma in an Athens hospital (died 2009): “You know, I’ve attempted suicide three or four times. It didn’t take.”