I used to say that he’d outlive us all. My father-in-law was a ballsy guy. He knew just what to say to break down barriers, and make friends of enemies. And his humour could reach anyone. He lied about his age so that the army would let him fight in Korea.
But it didn’t take him long to realize that people who weren’t as smart as him were ordering him around. He used to always tell people close to him not to “be a sheep”, his favourite piece of advice, and a good one I think.
He woke up one morning and decided to write a book about all his experiences in the Korean War. Just like that. And he did. I read that book, and could feel my father-in-law in every sentence. He’d be humorous, and then, when you were least expecting it, he’d sucker punch you with what war was really like.
I’m especially glad he wrote that book now, so that my daughter and the one that’s on the way (the moon water must’ve worked!) will get to know the great man their grandfather was, and the super-strong blood that pumps through their veins.
The Elder Moon that happens now for witches across the world always makes me think of him. It’s the time of the winter solstice, and New Year’s is not quite upon us. The Celts called it Ruish.
Going from November 24 to December 23rd, it’s a time of renewal, of beginnings and endings, of births and deaths. It’s a time for remembering where we came from, and what those who came before us helped to build. It’s also a time of creativity. My Father-in-law’s book is evidence of that.
My Father-in-law loved to drink Old Fashioneds. One of my fondest Christmas memories of him is me reclining on the couch, pregnant with my first, reading his book, while he sat next to me sipping one.
So I think it’s only fitting that we witches celebrate this time of year with an Elderflower Old-Fashioned in his honour, and to honour those who came before us. It’s simple to make and great to enjoy, by the fireside or surrounded by those who make you laugh. Delicious!
2 parts Bourbon (or if you live in Canada – Rye Whisky)
1/2 part of St. Germain
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange peel, garnish
In an Old-Fashioned glass (or pewter cup as you see fit) stir the ingredients.
Add ice generously.
Top with an orange twist (or a maraschino cherry as my Father-in-law liked!)
The magic? Well, I think it’s inside all of us as we think about the hard work living was for the generations upon generations that brought us here.
Stir slowly and ruminate on the traits of your ancestors that you’d like to channel at this time. Their creativity? (I get some of my best ideas while kicking back and relaxing. Did they write books, or make music, or quilt? Heck – even mixing drinks is a kind of fantastic creativity!) Their tenacity? Their kindness? Their stubbornness in the face of a challenge?
Then guzzle the Old-Fashioned down. (I wasn’t kidding about it being delicious!) I think we all have difficult times ahead of us. But if you’ll put up with my whimsy for a minute, I think that’s what being human is all about.
What I’ll take from my father-in-law’s example is that we humans, and especially us witches who are brave enough to see it, were gifted with a wonderful birth rite. Strength. I like to think we can take anything this crazy world can throw at us. Let’s raise our Elderflower Old-Fashions to that this Elder Moon.