This poem came out of the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from rix_scaedu and aldersprig. It has been sponsored by rix_scaedu. This poem belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis.
Shaeth had not given much thought
to holidays for his new religion,
until Glenta informed him
that it was nearly Winter Solstice
and he had better come up with something.
"Do drunks celebrate the solstice,
and if so, how?" Shaeth wondered.
"With grog, if we can get it," Trobby said.
"Can't we get something nicer?"
Eshne asked. "Grog is cheap and awful."
"Hard to argue with that," Trobby said.
It was the bottle angel
who saved Winter Solstice
by teaching everyone about
mulled wine and cider,
with an explanation of
winter warming spices
and how they aided health.
Glenta wanted an evergreen,
so Shaeth had hacked down a spruce
and set it up in the temple.
Eshne decorated the tree
with rings and discs of colored glass.
Trobby added long garlands of hop flowers
while the bottle angel perched
atop the tree and watched.
The artist Denore warmed his hands
around a cup of hot cider
until they were limber enough
for him to sketch.
The minstrel Prell
sipped her mulled wine
and picked out a tune on her lute.
"It's strange," Trobby said,
and both of them nodded.
"What's strange?" Shaeth asked.
"Having a holiday without
yelling and fighting," Trobby said.
"There's no fighting in temple,"
Shaeth said. "I'm through with that."
He was serious about enforcing the rule.
If he had to follow rules,
then so did everyone else.
"We know," said Prell.
"It's just ... new to us."
"We like it," Denore said.
"What do you like best?"
Shaeth asked them.
"A cup of comfort," Trobby said,
nodding at the cider he'd just refilled.
"Having somewhere warm to stay,"
Denore said as he drew a portrait
of the bottle angel on the tree.
"Spending time with kind people,"
Prell said, plucking a chord.
"Then sing about that,"
and Prell did.
* * *
Grog can mean cheap liquor, or more often, a drink made by blending alcohol, spices, and a carrier such as water or soda. Here it's kind of a combination: cheap liquor stretched out with carriers and made more palatable with flavorings, served on festive occasions. It's based on a barrel of beer, cider, or wine and left open for people to dip their mugs into.
Mulled wine is a traditional holiday beverage. Mulled cider may be made with hard or sweet cider, or a combination. Hard cider has around 4-8% and wine has 8-14% alcohol content. Heating alcoholic beverages -- or even just exposing them to air -- allows the alcohol to dissipate. The longer the cooking time, the less alcohol by volume remains, although it never ALL goes away. Holiday drinks can vary greatly in potency depending on the strength of the alcoholic ingredient(s), amount of dilution, and duration of heating. Starting with a low to average vintage and cooking it off, the actual content of the temple beverage is probably a point or two under the low end for unmodified liquor of its type.
Mulling spices overlap with warming winter spices used for flavor, comfort, and health support. You can bundle your own spices for mulling hot beverages.
Hops are used for making beer; the flowers turn into small dried cones with a pleasing fragrance. This seemed like a better fit for Shaeth's temple than the customary popcorn garland.
Bottle ornaments include such things as rings or wreaths.
Alcohol can spark arguments on holidays. This is stressful for people in recovery and for relatives of addicts. Solutions include avoiding each other, not serving alcohol at all, or setting rules such as no fighting and a limit on drinks. Different solutions work for different people.