December 15, 2002

FOTS and Fireplaces

"Yuletide" for "Christmastime" is a term derived from the yule log, which in olden days was a huge log used as the foundation of the holiday fires. Bringing the yule log in was, as recently as the 19th century, as much a part of the pre-Christmas festivities as putting up an evergreen tree today. "Yule" can be traced back to the Middle English "Yollen" (cry aloud) and is thought to date from early Anglo-Saxon revels in celebration of the discovery (after the winter solstice) that nights were becoming shorter.

Back in the Sixties we lived in a green-brick "rambler-style" house in Northern Virgina, on a corner hillside lot. The downstairs part of the house was originally a semi-unfinished basement, with a fireplace in the finished half. That was the family room, and it's where we celebrated Christmas. It had a big two-foot deep hearth, and that was where we put out the waxed paper with the flour for Santa to step on, along with the cookies and milk. One of the amusing memories I have is of a Christmas morning when I went downstairs (finding a ribbon barring the entrance to the room) and saw a white blur race across the carpet. It turned out to be a lilac-point Siamese cat which had some humongous registered name but whose disposition quickly earned him the nickname Damn Cat. Fortunately, mean as he was, he knew enough to stay away from the many roaring fires we had in that room. That's just one of the memories of that room; I won't go into the window-breaking I resorted to one day after school when I had no key except to say that, in retrospect, what in the world was so important inside the house that it couldn't have waited a couple of hours till Mom or Dad got home?

Posted by Linkmeister at December 15, 2002 08:49 PM

testing, testing.

Posted by: Linkmeister at December 15, 2002 09:15 PM

Um, need to pee? Oh, yes, that's important for girls to get indoors, not boys. Was it winter? That's important, too. Big dog growling? Chased by neighborhood thugs? There could be important things leading you to break the window. However, I gather that none of these were the reason.

Posted by: bunny at December 16, 2002 04:35 AM

Testing fine from work...

Posted by: dan at December 16, 2002 06:31 AM

testing from here ...

Posted by: kd at December 16, 2002 09:16 AM

I hate tests.

Posted by: shelley (the cynical one) at December 16, 2002 12:08 PM

i loooove tests.

yes, i am a dweeb.

btw, i had never heard of leaving out floured waxed paper for Santa to step onto. i'm guessing this is to make sure he showed up?

Posted by: deborah at December 16, 2002 07:43 PM

Ooooh. Finally I can get into the comments! I felt*sob*...excluded.


Posted by: Jen at December 18, 2002 04:44 PM