Well, St. Lucy’s Day was exactly a week ago, but when John Donne wrote this poem, one of my all-time favorites, in the time of Cromwell’s Commonwealth, England still used the Julian Calendar rather than the Gregorian, and so the shortest day of the year fell on the Feast of St. Lucy, my late grandmother Helen Lucy Eugenie’s baptismal day (her birthday was December 2). I miss her still, 13 and three quarters of a year after she died, more than I know how to express. But at least I can talk to her daughter Alice Anne Eugenie, my mother, every day.
Today we recalled my first “acting” gig—when I was in First Grade and played “Joseph” in the Nativity Play at John S. Armstrong elementary in Highland Park, which used to be a very special place to live in Texas. The part of Mary was played by Liebe Wetzel who really did go on to have a career in show business, having founded a puppet theatre in San Francisco. But the truth is that today (Sunday 21 December 2014) is really the shortest day and longest night:
A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day
POETJohn Donne 1572–1631