Happy 2011. This is the year that I turn 60 and I have three grandchildren. I think that endows me with certain inalienable rights among which are the right to rebel against certain absurdities. Why we do things is sometimes more important than what we do.
For example, there was this young priest who took over his first parish in northern Minnesota - or maybe it was Saskatchewan. After he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Midnight Vigil, he noticed a certain growing resentment on the part of his rural parishioners. So he went to his deacon and asked him what the trouble was.
"Well frankly, Father, many of us are having trouble getting used to your new ways. We aren't used to these shorter rites." The priest asked him to explain further and the deacon explained, "Well, many of us missed the way the old priest used to bless the church at midnight during the Christmas Eve Vigil."
Bless the church? The young priest had never heard of this, so he went to to see the old priest in the retirement community which was now his home. After an hour or so of discussing various parishioners, their children and cattle, the old priest asked, "And how are you settling in, young man?" This was the opening he had been waiting for and the young priest asked for an explanation of the rite of blessing the church during the Christmas Eve Vigil.
After staring at him blankly a few moments, a smile dawned on the wrinkled old face. "That old church is so cold and drafty!" He explained. "Even in mid-summer I got cold. But Christmas Vigil was the worst! So before I began to celebrate Eucharist, I used to go over to the radiator and warm my hands!"
Or there were three generations of women who passed on family traditions faithfully. As each one got older, her daughter would take over the task of preparing the Christmas Dinner for the extended family. Each mother carefully taught her daughter all the family secret recipes. As the youngest daughter was being inducted into the mysteries, she was told, among other things, that it was important to cut off the end of the Christmas Ham before putting it in the oven. "Why?" she asked, bringing the proceedings to a screeching halt.
"Because you'll ruin it if you don't." Said her mother. "Isn't that right, mom?"
"I don't know," replied the grandmother, "That's just the way it's done."
"But why?" asked the rebellious daughter. "Let's go ask Great-grandmother." So they went out into the living room where Great-grandmother sat in state, knitting, of course, and asked her why it was so important to cut off the end of the Christmas ham.
"Because" she told them, "my old wood burning stove was so small the whole ham didn't fit in."
So back to being almost 60. I'm old enough to start asking why and stop worrying about the "Right way." Well, maybe I've always been a little that way, but I'm going to be a lot MORE that way from now on.
Beginning with knitting. Why do we pull from the center? It's a neat little magic trick that goes wrong about as often as it goes right. But why do we do it? I just spent 40 minutes trying to find an end that didn't come out of the center smoothly. I'm done. The only reasonable reason I can think of for pulling from the center is if I'm knitting with a double strand and only have one ball. Otherwise, I'm knitting from the outside from now on.
If I want magic, I'll buy a Fushigi.