The Bar Chronicles: #21, ‘Lighting’ the Christmas Tree…

Bar Night 2

Evenings with friends for small talk is one of Life’s enduring pleasures. Add some beer and holiday revelers at a local pub, and the gathering gets even more festive.

Tonight, our favorite watering hole, Caverly’s Irish Pub, was no exception. The pub was packed. Not a seat at the bar, full tables and the darts were flying. We smartly took the solitude of the back room and huddled there, six of us around a wobbly table. It was quieter, but not by much, after all, it’s the holiday season.

Tonight’s toast seemed a bit more special with Christmas and year’s end upon us. I watched reflectively while glasses clinked, friends smiled and well wishes were spoken. It was a nice moment.

As is always the case on Bar Night, there was something new to learn. Tonight, appropriately, it pertained to Christmas and the traditional Christmas tree lighting. Not just any lighting, mind you, but one that involved real candles.

Tree With Candles

Some of us spoke woefully of lights not working, trees too tall and tree allergies but lighting a tree with real candles, now that was something worthy of our attention. At least it was for me, as one who is clueless on traditions around the world.

Apparently, in German homes, lighting real candles on a tree is a time honored Christmas tradition. One of us spoke excitedly about doing it on his tree for his wife who is a bona fide German, and we always try to make wives happy, don’t we? So, candle up the tree.

It seems risky, but then with risk comes reward and the result is a stunningly beautiful tree. Here is the pictures to prove it, not of our friend’s tree but that of a German family, in Germany.

Lighted Tree

One beer seems to be our limit lately but we do make that one last a couple of hours, long enough to talk ourselves tired. It was time to go but not until I recited a favorite holiday poem, ‘The Night Before Christmas’.  The group ‘demanded’ it and after some arm twisting (I made up that part), I delivered it ‘flawingly’. A dart thrower snapped the group picture and we headed home, remarking on an enjoyable evening, steady on our feet and yawning a bit. The 21st is in the books…

BN 21

‘Happy Christmas to all…’

Steve

srbottch.com

The Bar Chronicles, #9: Christmas Memories

“You got to remember, it was right after the depression and a coal miner’s family didn’t have much at all”

Christmas, a time for goodwill, reverence and seasonal brews. This month’s parley took us to Carly’s Bar, on Winton Rd North, a true tavern bordering neighborhoods and businesses where we enjoyed idle talk, brotherhood and beer.

Carly’s touts itself, on their green and yellow neon sign hanging over the entrance, as ‘the place to be’. Beer choices were primarily standard fare, no speciality brews, and my favorite, Guinness, was served only in cans. Acceptable, but I do enjoy watching Guinness pour from a tap, its distinctive thick frothy head landing atop a dark chestnut-brown body. I can almost taste it now.

We had the back room to ourselves, not fancy but quiet. A giant bag of Skinny Pop popcorn in the middle of a round table satisfied our snack craving and the crumbs we left on the floor were enough to fill the tiny belly of the house mouse.

With our usual toast, we wished each other good will and kicked off the evening with general talk of health, family and mundane ‘man talk’.

But it’s the holiday season and our second and last round of ale found us recalling early Christmas memories. The stories were personal, told with a smile and enthusiasm that brought us back to a special time and place, albeit briefly.

Tales of a terrible Christmas tree, boxes of nails and hardware in a Christmas stocking, and a fruit ‘bucket’ for the family had us laughing and humble at the same time.

While it was well-intentioned, the thin white artificial tree my dad brought home was not festive, at all. But we adjusted to it out of respect to him. It lasted for two years before finding the curb. I vowed never to have an artificial tree but now have two of them. They’re almost real but haven’t quite developed the evergreen scent, yet.

The box of nails one of us found in ‘his’ stocking on an early Christmas morning ‘sneak peek’ was such a disappointment. “Nails and hardware, for me? Why?” Dismay quickly turned to delight with the realization it was an adult’s stocking. His dad would love it.

Life in the coal mining towns was difficult. The Great Depression sapped people’s energy and resources. And while Christmas was a time for giving and receiving, a simple ‘bucket’ of fruit to be shared by all often sufficed to lift the spirits of families. When the fruit was gone, the bucket lived on with practical uses.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family. I wish our group and readers who follow The Bar Chronicles a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Steve

Srbottch.Com