The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
The discarded Christmas trees lying beside the road say it all: Christmas has come and gone. Inside the house we are still sweeping up spruce needles, putting away wrapping paper and finding homes for new possessions. On top of the piano a thoroughly picked-over box of chocolates offers a dwindling number of pink-cream-filled confections. The fridge gradually empties. A turkey carcass lingers waiting to be made into soup, while a few onions swim listlessly at the bottom of a jar of pickled herring. What about the remains of that cheese log? Throw it in the compost? I vote yes. And don’t offer me one more clementine.
In the Cove we are both relieved and sorry that December is over. The Women’s Institute Christmas Potluck on the first Monday of the month featured the best casseroles each woman had to offer, plus generous desserts and agreeable conversation. Later that week the Christmas Concert came off without a hitch, with carol singing, choirs, tinwhistles, guitars, recitations, a stepdancer, a homemade skit and of course, Santa; and lunch. All those rehearsals and cookie-baking for such a brief shining moment.
The next week the Advent Open Houses began. How wonderful to stroll through a star-filled night, with Orion in his full glory, to a neighbor’s place and walk right into the house without knocking. Make yourself at home! Have some cider. Look, Bill’s getting off the couch to make room for you. Stay, stay! What’s the hurry? Food and friendship are the best companions, and there’s no such thing as too much togetherness during the Christmas Season.
All those open houses, then Christmas Day itself…and we immediately started planning for our New Year’s Levee. Levee comes from French lever meaning “to raise.” It came into use in the time of Louis XIV when that noble personage held court in his bedroom (men only) first thing in the morning. “What a jolly idea,” thought other kings, and so the custom spread.
Three hundred fifty years later here on Prince Edward Island, a levee is a New Year’s Day reception held by the lieutenant governor, the premier, the military, city mayors and more to mark the start of another year. Women are wecome, too. Maybe you get a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Here in the Cove we are right in step with tradition but our levee features a veritable smorgasbord of tasty treats (it seems everything we do here involves eating), followed by an inter-locking of arms and a soulful singing of Auld Lang Syne. The soft light of the midday winter sun streaming in through dusty windows adds a mellow and memorable glow. It’s winter, it’s a New Year, and here we are all together again.