A small wave of new promo stuff about Downton Abbey has appeared. Just enough to serve as reminder that many Downtonless months still stretch out before us, much as endless tasteless courses parade through a formal dinner, when what one really longs for is the delicious baked Alaska still to be served.

I was a late arrival to the Abbey. I DVRed it simply because I’m drawn to all things Edwardian, including even WWI. It seems ill-mannered to have a favorite war, but I do. The depths of tragedy are so touching even in their horror, while details of perseverance and personal triumph sing their songs of hope.

A single detail I learned of about that war fascinates me above all others. I read somewhere that people living in England, going about their everyday lives, could hear the battle of the Somme taking place across the Channel well into France.

How that must have terrified mothers with sons so nearby, yet so entirely out of reach and going through unimaginable hell. Sweethearts wracked with fear and worry, imagining the other half of their hearts alone among thousands as they fought to return to them. Even men unable to fight, tortured by the feeling that it should be them…that they were in the wrong place. And soldiers across the water, beyond the white cliffs practically at home, yet farther from the lives they had known than they had ever been. A living and dying opera, its songs shouts of courage and cries of pain, its players heroes in the making. The kind of bottomless tragedy only life itself can write.

You’d think I would watch every episode of Downton Abbey as soon as it aired, but no. I let the entire first season sit there until a few days before the second premiered. When I did watch it I fell in love with it, and watched the second season as fast as it unspooled.

I fell in love with Mr. Bates along with Anna. I worried about Lady Mary, even as I condemned the reckless mistakes she graced her way past. I felt sorry for Lady Edith, an overlooked China cup caught between two delicate porcelain sisters. I even wondered if there might be a hint of something more between Carson and Mrs. Hughes. And, above all else, I waited for the Dowager Countess (she of the wickedly funny one liners) to appear.

Now I have to wait too long. It’s bound to be worth the dredged up patience, though. I expect the highlight of season three to be the highly anticipated arrival of Cora’s mother, in the form of Shirley MacLaine. Maggie Smith’s portrayal of Lady Violet is one of those priceless gems of acting that are all too rare. The very thought of watching her go toe to toe in a sharp tongued verbal deathmatch with the character I imagine to be a worthy adversary is enough to make sure I’m watching from scene one. In fact, I would pull the story from my TV months ahead of their time…if only I could.

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