VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS
December 26, 2000
It was a lovely Christmas. One of the best weve had, all things considered. In the morning all the kids pitched in, as usual and we got the tree decorated and the house arranged for company (move dining room table to family room, move hide-a-bed from family room to living room, find enough chairs for all, etc.)
The kids went off to their annual Christmas party while my mother and I got the table set and decorated.
The 24½ lb turkey went into the oven at noon and filled the air with the nice aroma that I love about a house on Christmas day.
The family kind of staggered in at unplanned times. Walts mother and sister planned to be here at 3:30 and didnt arrive until 4:30. I had tentatively planned dinner for 6, but at 5, his brother called to say they had napped, overslept and were just then leaving the house (with the hors doeuvres) and wouldnt arrive until after 6. Then Audra, Pauls widow, called to say she probably wouldnt come in until about 9 and that she would have a friend with her (no problem, since Olivia, who had said she would come, was having car problems and had to cancel at the last minute). The whole afternoon was one of adjust, adjust, adjust. Fortunately adjusting is one of the things I do best.
While we were waiting, we had a funeral. (What? This surprises you? Doesn't everyone?) We had the ashes of the family dog, Toby; Ned and Marta had the ashes of their cat, Ernie, and we put them together with the ashes of Ned & Marta's dog, Bert, who was buried some years ago. We topped off the "cemetery" with our leftover grave marker (what? doesn't everyone have spare grave markers hanging around?), which we removed when we put Paul and Dave in the same grave and had a new marker ordered. Hey--'tis the season to be jolly! Might as well have a couple of funerals.
Dinner preparations kicked into high gear after most of the folks got here and there were 3 guys working fast and furious in the tiny kitchen at the same time--Walt, carving the turkey; his brother making gravy; and Ned whipping up a mean batch of mashed potatoes. Now thats what I like to see--men doing all the work!
We took time out to watch the start of Monday Night football. The kids friend Jason Fisk plays defense for the Titans, who were playing the Cowboys. We had to sit around waiting for Jasons brief bio to come on the screen. Everyone cheered. It was kind of an emotional moment for some of us, as we realized how excited David, who was Jasons good friend, would have been to be watching that. Those moments are always going to be hard.
Dinner could not have been better. The turkey was moist and juicy, the stuffing--my own invention this year, with dried cranberries added--was one of the best, my mothers Waldorf salad was a big hit, and I didnt burn the rolls this year. I even remembered to use the warming drawer in the oven so that it all got to the table hot. What more could one ask? I also decided to go with lots of candles this time around and it was quite nice to sit there with everyone being lit by the light from the candles instead of having the overhead light...
After dinner, Jeri played Santa in distributing gifts. I know there are different ways of handling gift-giving. Some families just pass out piles of presents and everybody opens at the same time and it must be pandemonium. In our family everyone goes in turns so we all get to see who gave who what. There are always a lot of laughs, more than usual this year, as Walts sister had just moved into a new house, so was cleaning out a lot of junk and ended up gift wrapping some of it for each person (I had a lovely box with some earrings in it, which I had left at Tahoe when we were there over Thansgiving, for example). It makes the gift giving last longer, but we certainly enjoy talking and lauging about the things we receive.
The long evening ended with pumpkin pie and then everyone packing up his or her respective autos for the drive home. I had planned to stay up and get some cleaning done, but that idea was easily given up when the lure of sleep just proved to be too much. I figured theres always "tomorrow."
Unfortunately, "tomorrow" comes with a healthy dose of reality, including the mountain of tapes to be transcribed, the Breaking Barrier transport I forgot to do, and Defending the Caveman, a show playing in Sacramento, which I have to review tonight!