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December 25, 2000

It was very cold, the wind was blowing. The cemetery was black as ink and off in the distance the light of flashlights could be seen bobbing about. We parked the car and made our way cautiously across the graves, careful not to step on somebody’s poinsettia. When we arrived at the kids’ grave, there was a small group gathered. A bottle of Jim Beam sat on the grave marker and in the ground were two metal flowers made by Jeri’s friend, “Moon.” One flower had a cigarette stuck between two petals. “Moon said you probably should take the flowers home,” Jeri said.

As we have for four Christmases now, we stood around the grave, sang silly Christmas songs, passed around the bottle, poured some on the grave and wished we didn’t have to be there. "Merry Christmas, guys," we said. "We love you..." And to think -- some folks just go to bed on Christmas eve and let visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. Sounds nice. I’d prefer it, to tell you the truth.

For those who have been following my “not quite with it” preparation for Christmas, where we stand now is that the living room has been dusted, skepticism from Alameda notwithstanding. We have a tree. It is actually in the aforementioned dusted living room. Decorated? you ask? Uh.... not quite. Not at all, in fact. But hey--company won’t be here till late morning anyway. We have plenty of time.

And as we could not get a bushy tree, but had to make do with a silver tip, which has lots of empty spots on it, we won’t need to put up as many ornaments as usual. Easy. I’ll just do it while I’m cleaning the bathroom, baking the pies, stuffing the turkey, and rearranging the whole house so we can put the dining room table in the family room. No prob. Simple. We do it every Christmas. You know, I’ve been “distracted” at Christmas before, but never like this year. It’s like I’m watching someone else go through all the preparations.

I did get a little decorating done, though. See these guys? Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, done in papier maché, which Olivia brought me from Mexico. Great guys.

[2009 note:  Photo deleted by Yahoo in the blitz]

They’ve been in the middle of the dining room table ever since she gave them to me. But they don't go with the turkey and trimmings, so had to be moved. I decided to move them to the coffee table and then to make them look more Christmassy, I added the poinsettias. That’s about it for decorating right now. (BTW, you may notice Kermit in the background. He’s wearing a black armband, which he’s been wearing ever since Jim Henson died.)

Can you tell my brain isn’t really engaged tonight? It was a fairly good day, though. I did last minute shopping in the late morning and finished wrapping packages. Good Bev. At 3, Peggy and I had Christmas together. We both logged onto Instant Messaging--3 p.m. California time Christmas Eve, 7 a.m. Perth time Christmas morning. Cold here, pushing 100 degrees there. It was our first cyberchristmas. We each had gifts from the other, so we opened them together. It was the next best thing to being there.

When my cyber Christmas was finished, Walt and I went to an open house at the home of our friends Larry and Steve. It was also Larry’s birthday, so I brought him a CD of Steve Schalchlin, since he’s enjoyed Steve’s songs when he first heard them live here in our living room back in October. It was a very small gathering, but of some of our best friends in Davis, so it was a lot of fun.

We stayed until 6 and then stopped back at home to get some warmer clothes. Jeri and Tom had arrived just five minutes before, having driven all day up from Santa Barbara. It was so good to see them again, especially Jeri, who lives so far away you can’t just take the day off to drive over and see her. Tom, 6-7 hours away, isn’t exactly close either, but somehow he seems a lot more accessible than Jeri does these days.

The four of us drove over to the Wilson’s, who are Ned’s in-laws. They have a bean burrito dinner each Christmas eve and this was our second year to be invited. Very nice dinner with the two families blending. We also met Louise’s new dog, Laura (it stands for some longer AKC registered name. Louise raises chows and Laura is 4 months old, a roly poly little bear of a dog with a busy purple tongue. Walt and I were falling asleep after champagne (at Larry & Steve’s) and margaritas at the Wilsons’ (I only had a bit and switched to water).

So we came on home and napped a bit before going out to the cemetery. The bazillionth hour of classical Christmas music accompanied our snoring. Now all have gone to bed and I'm left with the task of finding the Christmas gift I bought months ago, which I hid in September so the recipient wouldn't stumble upon it while visiting the house. It's very embarrassing. It's such a great gift and it's driving me nuts trying to remember where I put it. It will give me something to do while the pumpkin pies are baking.

It is 1 a.m. as I write this, so with luck, I should be able to get some sleep around 3:30 or so. I’m thinking back to past Christmases, where we would be going to midnight Mass, and then coming home and sending the kids to bed so I could finish wrapping packages to put under the (already decorated) tree. In the morning we’d wait eagerly for the sounds of the kids waking up and all come down to sit around the tree and open packages. Never did we realize that all too soon there would only be three kids and that the traditions of former years just didn’t seem to work any more.

Sometimes it seems like I’m just going through the motions out of force of habit. I know we will have a good time with the relatives on Christmas day. But I’d give anything if the door would come bursting open and we’d find Paul and David standing there. That’s what I really want this Christmas.

Merry Christmas, guys. We miss you so much....


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created 12/24/00 by Bev Sykes