I rise early, the scent of balsam strong draws me to turn on the Christmas tree lights in the still silent house. My first real Christmas tree will have a shorter display time than the artificial ones of my past 56 Christmases and I want to absorb it all while I can. I sit down where I can see the reflection of lights on my window out to a just-waking city.
We’ll take a cup of kindness, yet, and look back on the past few sparkling days.
We have been simply having a wonderful Christmastime. My love and I enjoy Christmas Eve services, along with my son, from the front row of a packed sanctuary at our home church where we met and fell in love. Next, his sons and other extended family join us at home for a pre-ordered take-home meal of Ginger Beef, Almond Gai Ding, Lemon Chicken and nine other dishes. A wonderful selection to grace our Table for Ten. We make history in our home with a new family union: his, mine and ours. After, we all gather round O Tannenbaum and exchange kindness and laughter, giving and receiving, blessing and absorbing. We laugh through memories of favorite Christmas movie moments from Home Alone 1 & 2, Elf, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, The Grinch (animated and Jim Carey version), It’s a Wonderful Life, and more. We debate which seasonal games to play but there is not a jigsaw puzzle in sight.
A Pirate gift exchange could get out of hand but everyone laughs at the gifts and very little actual stealing happens. The air-inflatable Homer Simpson Santa is informally voted best gift for future practical jokes on certain roommates who will remain unnamed to protect the perpetrators. Some wild rounds of Crokinole ensue, insuring that re-matches will be necessary for years to come. Gluten-free white chocolate cheesecake and Christmas baking (from Tina, my sister-in-love) plus a little homemade chocolate (from me) tops off the night.
Christmas morning we all rise slow, and brother Brad presides over the making of Norwegian pancakes in our third almost annual Christmas brunch. Toppings include Summerland Sweets fruit syrups or good old Aunt Jemima; selections of peaches, raspberries, strawberries with whipped cream, or brown sugar and cinnamon. Some lazy day visiting, Crokinole and learning new card games (Five Crowns, Wizard, Quiddler, Things) and lovely music from the recently-tuned piano. A little reading, a couple video games, some NFL highlights and an afternoon catnap in the sun for the patriarch and everyone is prepped for turkey dinner.
The evening meal is crowned by a perfectly browned Butterball turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and fabulous mashed potatoes with turkey gravy. Chocolates, candies, pecan tarts and mints top off the feast.
We laugh ourselves hysterical Christmas night watching Home Alone 2, a standing tradition in Henry’s Christmases past. We go to sleep giggling and chortling over the various reactions to movie silliness even more than the ridiculous theatrical antics.
As we put on our nightcap and crawl into bed with visions of happiness all in our head, I find my Christmas card from my love on the pillow – words of affirmation, the best gift of all.
We sleep in heavenly peace.