Until recently I thought my gentile half was only Protestant, but my mother has informed me that we have at least one stealth Catholic way up there in our family tree, by way of her father, who was an Englishman. I still choose to think of my maternal ancestors as joyless Pilgrims in buckle hats ordering me back to work. The Pilgrims believed the commemoration of Christmas, which is not mentioned in the Bible, to be yet another popish contamination of true, sober Christian faith. In fact it was my illustrious Pilgrim forebear William Bradford who first forbade the public celebration of Christmas in Plymouth Colony, of which he was the governor. He said that those who wanted to keep Christmas could do it decently in their own homes rather than making a vulgar show of themselves. My Pilgrim ancestors had the right idea!

I don’t know what my paternal ancestors were doing in 1620. Maybe they hadn’t become Jews yet and were back in Europe having the kind of vulgar, drunken celebrations that scandalized Bradford. And my Catholic forebears are back there somewhere, and I hope they had a good time. And I hope you do too. Happy solstice, Small Peculiarteers!