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The Guest
Refrigerator Door

These magnets belong to

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book cover

Code to Zero
Ken Follett
(yes--FINALLY a new book!)



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Just say "No" to the Salvation Army.

For those masochistic enough to want to read the on-line version of my Christmas letter, you can find it here.

That's it for today!

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25 December 2001

I bought a double breasted suit
A most conservative design
I bought you useless flowers
And all they did was die

Ironically appropriate lyrics.

We were standing by the light of the half-moon in the black of the cemetery, shivering in the cold, once again gathered around the joint grave of Paul and David. Walt had turned up the volume on the car stereo and opened the windows and Paul's voice cut through the blackness.

I bought you useless flowers.
And all they did was die.

I put the small decorated Christmas tree in the flower holder and filled it with water, replacing it in the hole in the ground. There were already two little figure there--a guitar and a tambourine. Jeri's friend Moon had been there earlier in the day and left them on the grave marker.

Ned opened the bottle of Jim Beam and handed it to Jeri, who handed it to me. I took a small sip. We passed the bottle around. Ned sprinkled a little on the gravestone. I laughed and noted that the amount of Jim Beam that gets poured on the grave is smaller each year. "I have to take it to the party tomorrow," Ned said, "and that stuff's expensive." Practicality has won out over sentimentality.

The group is smaller too. The first year we did this weird Christmas Eve ritual, the crowd was quite large. And Paul was there. We were standing around Dave's grave then. We didn't realize that in a few years, it would be a double grave. A lot of the kids' friends came that year, but in the intervening years, they've moved away or started having babies and you don't want to bring a little one out into the graveyard at midnight on a cold Christmas eve to plant some useless flowers by the grave of people who are no longer able to appreciate them.

Jessica joined our little foursome. She brought an angel to put on the grave, along with the guitar, the tambourine, and the Christmas tree. We stood around in silence while Paul continued to sing in the background. Thank God, we're doing fine, he sang. Well, I'm glad someone is.

We sniffled a bit and we shed a few tears. It's an emotional ritual we've designed for ourselves. But I guess it's getting easier. Sort of.

Our midnight romp in the cemetery followed a long, full day of final Christmas preparations. I managed to get the kitchen clean. Twice. The second time was after I'd made pumpkin pie. I got the pies in the oven and then realized I'd left out the sugar, so getting them out and getting the sugar added was a ridiculous mess. I'm sure the pies will taste good, but they don't quite have that pretty look that I usually aim for.

Walt worked on vacuuming the living room and when I went into that room, the smell was terrible. We finally determined it was the rotting ant bodies still in the bag from the days of vacuuming them out of the freezer. (Now there's a sentence you won't find written too often!) After we removed the bag and took it outside, the smell went away, so I guess that was it. Never thought that thawed dead ant bodies could give off such a vile odor.

In the middle of the afternoon here, it was Christmas morning in Australia and Peggy and I had planned to get together on line and open our gifts from each other. (Strange to oooo and ahhhh when you have to type it!) Another nice ritual that's being established. We did this last year and it was nice to do. The next best thing to being there.

Jeri and I worked on a CD project, which we discovered needs re–doing in part. But I'll work on that in the morning.

Dr. G called and wanted me to get some medication orders started, but by the time he called, I figured the chance of my getting hold of any responsible person at any insurance company were nil, so it will have to wait until the 26th.

In the evening, we joined with Ned and Marta at Marta's father & stepmother's home for their traditional burrito dinner. They invited us to join them for the first time the year David died (1996) when we were feeling decidedly un-Christmassy. It's grown into another nice tradition. This year, 11 month old Isabella kept us all amused with her antics. And after dinner, Jeri was asked to play some Christmas music for people to sing--nice to have a kid who knows how to sight read, as well she should now that she's a brand new graduate of Berklee College of Music.

The news of the evening was that Ned and Marta have made an offer on a house and hope to be moving in after the first of the year. It's their first house and it's all very exciting for them.

And now it's 1 a.m. Christmas morning. There is much I should be doing, and it doesn't feel like I'm sleepy, but I suppose I'll go to sleep anyway. Mostly it just feels empty. There is a hole in my heart that doesn't go away. Life goes on and we laugh and continue as if things were normal, but normal has changed and on days like this, the emptiness just gets accentuated. Things will be fine. Just needed to take a little time out, give a sigh for what can't be, maybe shed a tear or two, and then plunge back into life. There's a turkey to be stuffed and people to be fed.

And out in the cemetery, some useless flowers have already started to die.

One Year Ago:
Moon Flowers

My tip of the week:
Go NOW to Pictures to EXE Presentations
and download some of the fantastic
slide shows which have been
uploaded.  You wont be sorry!

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