Gateway: Living

Make sure to carry your friendliness and good cheer into 2018

Carols are sung, gifts exchanged, families gathered and gone home, decorated trees removed, or scheduled, such as our friends Bart and Cindy, who have festivities including tree removal on Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night, Jan. 6, has been celebrated as the end of the Christmas season since the Middle Ages. The Feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men, or Magi, arrived in Bethlehem to behold the Christ child, is the traditional reason for this date.

During these 12 days, the normal order of things was reversed, traditional roles relaxed. Masters waited on servants, some men dressed as women, and women as men. A Lord of Misrule (from pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia) was selected to lead the festivities.

Some traditions for this time were adapted from pagan customs, including the Roman Saturnalia.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Twelfth Night parties were popular with drinking, eating game playing. A special Twelfth Cake, the forerunner of today’s Christmas cake, was baked, with all members of the household given a slice.

Traditionally, it contained both a dried bean and a dried pea. The man whose slice contained the bean was elected King for the night; a Queen was found with a pea, and they ruled that evening. Even servants were recognized by all, including their masters.

Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night,” or What You Will, was written to be performed as entertainment on Twelfth Night.

Traditional Carnival season begins after Twelfth Night and lasts until Mardi Gras.

Jan. 1 means time to move on and look forward to a new year, a new slate to write on, new dreams to dream, and for many, the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions.

No, I haven’t made such lists for many years, but rather, when I put up my new calendars, look forward to possibilities.

I do note the regular scheduled meetings, rehearsals, family birthdays and other known occasions to plan for, but take time to marvel at all of the white spaces waiting to be filled, as I know they will be!

The blank days of January are especially welcoming, a month when many of our usual activities aren’t scheduled, but we seem to fill them with the ongoing game of catch-up after all the busyness of the holidays.

We do use the “inside” weather to do some planning of projects and spring garden, and wonder what Mother Nature has in store for us these next several months.

Are you interested in hearing or sharing tales of Sasquatch? David George Gordon, author of Field Guide to the Sasquatch and Sasquatch Seeker’s Field Manual, shares information at the Key Center Library from 2 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 19. He uses and recommends what he calls “citizen science for such adventures. He wants those in attendance to tell their own stories or experiences about Sasquatch.

Presented by Washington Humanities. Call 253-548-3511 for more information.

My eternal hope as the end of year holidays draw to a close is that the friendliness and cheer we’ve just experienced can be carried forward into the new unknown year. To look people in the eye and smile, share a friendly greeting, be willing to listen and share what others are feeling and experiencing without making judgments, to be open to new experiences and knowledge, and to be more caring about concerns of those we hear about, whether or not they are personal friends.

May we all experience more ups than downs, and learn from all of them, and enjoy writing some new things on our personal blank slate of 2018.