I hope you basked in the warmth of loved ones? company, ate well, and were pleasantly surprised. I have seasonal photographs, with thoughts on Joseph Ratzinger, McKinley Morganfield, and turkey stuffing.

I?m losing patience with the carefully-multicultural ?Happy Holidays? and ?Best of the Season?. This particular feast day?s context is religious, and there?s nothing wrong with that even if you?re not, either as a matter of faith or heritage. The multiflavored citizens of Vancouver pitch in gleefully and I?m not sure the proportion of unbelievers is any higher, really, than it was back in the Old Days in the Old Country.

Children love Christmas for its own sake and it?s a fine thing for them, having something to anticipate. I?m pretty sure, looking back, that my own childhood feelings had a decent amount of enjoying-the-family mixed in with the gift-lust. On that note, our extended family didn?t have much travel energy this year; and Grand-Dad, who was supposed to join us from Saskatchewan, is snowbound on his farm. So it?s our first time doing this just as a nuclear family, and the first time I?ve taken on the turkey myself.

There?s that religious context. When I can, I try to watch the Christmas-eve Papal mass from St. Peter?s; simply for the sense of occasion. And I remember some decades ago, the very old Pope Paul, unable to walk but seeming to radiate serenity.

Last night, I ended up shaking my head at the current occupant of St. Peter?s throne, and I couldn?t help thinking of Muddy Waters. Benedict is supposed to be the spiritual leader of a billion or more souls; his deadpan mumble offered nothing to the spirit, and the leadership on offer was in the style of an Associate Deputy Chief of Staff chairing a quarterly review. And no-one seems to have felt that the watchers, numbering possibly in the hundreds of millions, were owed inspiration.

I saw Muddy Waters live a few times, the last not long before his death. He was old and seemed older; was helped onto the stage and performed sitting down. The music was fine as always. And at the end of the show, of course they played Mannish Boy; suddenly Muddy lurched up out of his chair and found the strength to bust a few moves and his hollering of ?I?m a MAN!? moved into frightening territory, could his body take it? Then he stood with a vast serene grin, waving at the audience. He was a man, and sent the people home happy; something the Pope apparently feels is beneath his pay grade.

Right at the moment the Church of Blues looks to me like a better long-term bet than the Church of Rome.

The turkey came out just fine, the stuffing (bread, onions, butter, sage, nutmeg) maybe a little better than that, and Lauren?s pudding was a triumph. Just one dinner guest standing in for the extended family, that was OK too. And the chilly air outside full of slanting sun. Worship a moment of winter light on a small green plant, or worship everything. In between it?s just distractions.