Saturday, November 28, 2009


"The hunting, the outdoor life, guarded the colony's health better than all of the apothecary's drugs. Champlain well recognized the necessity of keeping the men too physically tired for quarrelsome moodiness. To that end he established the Order of Good Cheer, l'Ordre de bon temps. A chain ceremoniously conferred on the day's best hunter encouraged rivalry; a formal dinner, with proper toasts and allocutions, roused the ready gaiety of the Frenchmen at meat. Poutrincourt, an excellent musician, led the choruses."

"We had always twenty or thirty savages, men, women, girls, and boys, who beheld us doing our offices. Bread was given them gratis, as we do here to the poor. But as for the Sagamos Membertou and other Sagamos, when any came to us, they sat at table eating and drinking as we did; and we took pleasure in seeing them as contrariwise their absence was irksome unto us."

An e-mail I got today from my brother, Joel, got me thinking about the order of good cheer. I think some of you that check in on my blog from the frozen north need to revive l'Ordre de bon temps. I think about it a lot. This time of year I am always reminded of those days when the crushing weight of winter seemed to be bearing down on me, as the calendar kept marching on. The cold, the dark, and the lack of fresh green smells. This is why the ancients dragged evergreens into their homes during yule and hung a sprig of mistletoe over the door. Your home becomes an enclave of resistance trying to wait out winter's invasion. I remember too the sense of being confined, besieged by the frigid temps and the knee deep snow. Life became a gray loop- TV, eating, school, TV, eating, school- monotonously repetitive and unstimulating. I gained weight. Maybe I was weak, and you guys don't share my attitude toward winter, but I think l'ordre de bon temps would make an awesome gathering for a local church family. Get together for games, eat pineapple,Bobberball Tournaments, and for goodness sakes invite the savages- because their absence should be irksome to you. Christians living in right relationship to God and to one another are just as foreign in America today as a party of bearded, merry Frenchman on the banks of the Penobscot River in 17th century Maine.

1 comment:

The Fredricksons: Brian, Britney, Salty, and Jerry said...

Excellent insight and what a wonderful idea!

This post moved me. Hard to do for someone like me who lacks a blood-pumping organism.