Well we have been having some very heavy rain squalls here, the kind of weather where you just want to snuggle up on a comfortable couch, with a soft, fuzzy blanket, a good book, a cup of hot cider or tea, a fireplace burning either logs or candles, a good book, and a little dog or two to snuggle next to you.
And maybe listen to Midnight Syndicates haunting Christmas Music. Alright Darklings I know for some of you Goth lovers maybe Midnight Syndicate is too commercial for you, but they are the only ones to come out with a Christmas Album that’s just on the chilly side, perfect if you’re reading a Jim Butcher Dresden File book. Nothing like Harry Dresden to get your adult version of Harry Potter going.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing the Dr. Strange movie, I have to say that Sci-Fi and Fantasy has come a long way in films since the days of Ray Harryhausen and his stop motion process but I still think his Medusa was extremely terrifying or the Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee Dr. Who series. I have not had the chance to see “Fantastic Beasts” or the “Miss Perigine School of unusal children” or what ever that title is, I’m afraid I’ll have to get that on DVD.
Dr. Strange in a word was FANTASTIC!!! And Darklings I strongly, very STRONGLY recommend that you watch it all the way through the credits and a bit past the credits, why? Because it hints of things to come. So I cannot wait for the next one. Cumberbatch or however he spells his name, fantastic!! And I have to admit having the old one as a woman, some may say that is not part of the original background, but that was then, this is now and who is to say that women cannot be powerful---Remember "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". I'd have to say that I liked how they expanded the back story for Strange, so where does he go from there I'd ask and am looking forward to it.
I still have to get my copy of Krampus, a perfect Gothic Christmas movie, just enough to send shivers down your spine. But I don’t think my nieces and nephews would think it as a Christmas movie, they love “A Muppet Christmas Carol” with Michael Cain and when you think about it Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is really a Gothic Christmas story so it is perfect.
I feel that Christmas is both sacred and gothic at the same time when you think about it, the cold weather, the rainy storms, darkness coming earlier and earlier, the sight of seeing lights and getting your hands and feet warm, Christmas is also a good time for ghost stories as well, and then to top it off with Hot chocolate with little marshmallows floating on top.
That’s when both Sis and I indulge in getting flavorful sweet treats for our drop in visitors to try, of course if you’re diabetic that’s not so much fun, so that’s when you have to think of savory as well as sweet, so Colby and Jack cheese bites on toothpicks help, or tiny English tea sandwiches or we hand out tiny pickle forks and that way they can use the forks to pick out what they want without using fingers, and those small sugar tongs help as well.
About this time of the Holidays is when I have my three tier serving plates out several with sweet and several with savory, and the scent of spice cider or lemon/ginger tea floats through the air as it is offered to guests, I have to check to see if it’s a spare the air day or not, and have candles as well as duraflame logs ready.
Lots of times I’ll have the inexpensive tea lights ready but I’ll mix in votive candle holders with scented candles and it will be either Cinnamon/vanilla or a bit more heady Frankincense, I get the Stella Mar candles, Nob Hill Foods offer them, they are pricey at $1.49 each but worth it. So I’ll put a couple of them among the tea lights especially if it’s a spare the air day, or I’ll burn a pillar candle or two of the same scent if I can have a fire, the warm fragrance seems to relax folks, and that is my intention.
Of late I’ve been having acquaintances of my artist couple over who are still dealing with the loss of loved ones from the Oakland Warehouse fire, the Christmas holidays are especially hard, they come over in the evening and find that I have everything (with Betty’s help) set up for a very late tea, Sis plans on coming over after she has seen her last client and we talk, in a comfortable relaxed setting, Sis and I listen and Sis offers advice, or we just let them talk it out. Boxes of Kleenex strategically placed, and my CD player playing instrumental music of a soothing sort, some holiday, some Kenny G, some classical.
We’ve been doing that for the last week or so, and happily when Doyle calls me before he comes home from his office I’ll ask him to pick up a few things, and he knows what I mean, Russian tea cakes, peppermint meringues, lemon cookies, raspberry and apricot thumbprints, dried figs, dried apricots, a selection from Harry and David’s dried fruits such as mango's, and candied Kiwi fruits and pineapple rings, cut into bit size pieces. And in a pinch, the Peteridge Farm entertainment cookies, and shortbread rounds.
But Carr’s Crackers especially the Entertainment collection is just perfect to put savory bits on, however if you know of someone who is allergic to nuts to direct them to the plate that has the Water crackers, the only problem is those folks who are allergic to wheat or milk, then you need to have the dried fruit or bits of veggies for them, I’ve found that if I get really large carrots and cut the thicker half into rounds they make a decent substitute for crackers just put whatever savory you want on it.
Now why am I talking about tea? Well during this darkest time of the year and for anyone who is going through a difficult time of it, it seems that a tea seems to help, nibbling on little things while sipping something warm without it being coffee or hot chocolate, (which I reserve for late at night) seems to help the spirit.
Or just deciding to take it with sugar, cream or lemon, makes it a ritual and forces a person to start to think outside of their misery.
And besides what is more Gothic than having tea while reading a murder mystery, it seems to me that is the perfect solution on a cold winter’s night.
But it seems that the tea solution is working for some of them, they relax, their tears dry, they still are sad, but they realize that they need to get into a positive frame of mind in honor of their lost friends, and they leave on a better note than when they came in.
Sights, Scents, Sounds and Smells add to that warmth and taste and you have a physical remedy to begin to lift one’s spirits, in a way I think tea shops with at least a gas burning fire place and cozy nooks, comfortable chairs –NO WIFI !!! Soft gentle music, perfect to chat quietly or relax after a hectic day of shopping, I think Tea Shops should come back and give Starbucks and Peet’s a run for their money.
Or plan on a relaxing tea, in the afternoon, just you and a book, or a couple of friends to unwind or share discoveries, but it should not be used to plan anything, not a thing, just to unwind and relax and let the mind flow free.