Siege Diaries 12/24/2021

Well, it wasn’t quite what we wanted, is it? A month ago or so, we were anticipating a holiday season not much different than “normal.” Things were all opening to full capacity, the decorations were going up, the parties were being planned. Now, even though we’re not in full lockdown, case counts are spiking and the cancellations are mounting, and my FB feed is full of darkness about how horrible 2021 has been.

That has not been my experience.

That is not to negate the darkness, but instead, to look to the stars–because, in my experience, it’s the darkness that makes those lights shine brighter. This is why we see beauty in the night sky.

I have lived the past four months like a malnourished dweller on a frozen tundra, who, searching for food, stumbles into a small inn, warm with the smells of cinnamon and warm bread, and welcoming faces around the tables. I have always been conscious of where I have been and where we might have to go again. But in those moments–those SCA events (particularly seeing friends in person again, and seeing some of them recognized with great honours), concerts, some short trips, visits to museums–I drank deeply, slaking first my thirst, but then fortifying myself should the darkness return again. I will cherish those precious moments even more so, and use them as a shield against whatever is to come–because they proved that this darkness is not endless, that even now, lights shine, and will guide us through.

I know I have been fortunate, and that makes the gratitude even stronger.

This is not 2020. It has not been months since I have seen friends, heard live music, or gone to a restaurant. It has been days. And that is something. If in the coming weeks I must continue to once again curtail things, I will, because I choose to hold fast to that promise of better days.

Back in those brighter days, a friend shared a link to a jeweller (Rickson Jewellery) on Etsy that was making some spectacular rings–dragons and phoenixes. I was tempted enough to dive into her site. There I sat while doing the temperature screenings at the Museum, looking at the rings, and having a plan just explode in my brain. One of the other things she offered was the ability to encode a favourite melody on a ring.

I don’t have a favourite melody per se — but I do have a favourite musical monogram: DSCH (or D – E flat – C – B, to name the actual notes), the motif that Dmitri Shostakovich encoded into several of his works. I’d thought about seeing whether I could get a pendant made with that somehow–but here was another idea: A ring!

Initially, I thought I’d want silver (much less expensive!). But as I brought the idea up with the jeweller, I started to realize that I wanted gold–the rings I wear on a daily basis are all gold. And maybe–garnets for the musical notes? Yes–she could do that, and gave me a quotation. It was genuine extravagance–until I realized that in my jewellery box I had numerous gold items I was not using. A bracelet and a chain from my mother’s collection, the former which I had never worn, the latter worn only a handful of times. Single earrings. A ring missing a stone. A heavy 18K ring whose stone had been chipped. And gold was fetching a high price right now–I had found a gold buyer who listed their prices on their website, and weighing out my stones on a tiny scale I had, I had an idea of what I would be getting. By the time I was done, I had over twice what I needed for the ring.

It took ten weeks. Tuesday, I drove almost two hours to pick up the ring in person. And it was well worth the wait and the drive. There is only one of these in the world, and it is definitely my precious.

And because holiday bling is wonderful, here is an amazing set of temple rings I received last week. These are much more of a west Slavic/Baltic style, but were based on an example found in Novgorod (reflecting that city’s multicultural nexus), so I of course had to have them.

And yesterday I finished up the scroll for my friend (will not share until it’s safe in her hands; I’ll be shipping it later today). There was also a quick pop into the Antique Mall to pick up a couple more holiday presents, some of which will be accompanied by the small additional batch of buckeyes I’ve just made. I’ll be taking a bit of a crafting break, although I think I may return to working on the piece based on a mosaic at Chernobyl, now that I’ve decided on a different approach for it. I have other projects queued up for the next ten or eleven days as well.

But today, soon, the annual Christmas eve liturgy will begin. The Grinch, A Christmas Story, shrimp, “The Shepherd”, holiday lights, getting the cats stoned, and then finally the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. Although there have been additions and tweaks to the ceremony (it used to involve pad thai, for instance) , I have been doing this now for at least fourteen years, probably longer (Facebook memories trace it back to 2007, before which there was no FB.)

And Christmas will come tomorrow, all the same. Fingers crossed that it will be just a little more convivial than last year.

Welcome Christmas, while we stand…