Tuesday, December 25
There’s always something nostalgic, exciting and even sad (yes, sad!) for me over the holidays. Mostly, it’s the past that makes Christmas sometimes melancholic. Part of my problem is I’m a traditionalist. I miss the way things were. I know that families are supposed to grow, and that is fine, but I miss having my sister to myself and sitting up at the top of our steps waiting to come downstairs to see all the glory under mom’s gloriously sparkling tree. I miss the intimacy of just us. Husbands and girlfriends come along, changing the dynamic, and, well, it’s just not the same. That is not to say that I am not welcoming of these people and our different traditions, I just miss the old stuff.
This year, I woke up at 7:00 a.m., which felt like 4:00 a.m. to me! I was still adjusting to the time difference. I got dressed up and my mom, my brother and I went to Christmas Mass. It was a nice service, but I missed my church – which is a cathedral with a gorgeous choir. This church reminds me of a JCC. It’s a community center with an out-of-tune singing group. Not very warm, not very holy, but it gets the job done.
After Mass we all had breakfast. Dad made us scrambled eggs with cheese, maple bacon, and I had half a gluten-free bagel with cinnamon apple jelly. I then made a cup of Yogi Tahiti Hazelnut Vanilla tea. After breakfast, we gathered around the tree and I was given the job of Santa, I passed out gifts to my family. We’ve pretty much tamed down over the years, now that we’re adults. My favorite gifts were Whole Foods gift cards, one each from my siblings, and a standing pig sommelier holding a bottle of Seresin “Leah” Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand. A wise find from my mom, found at Whole Foods in Fairfax.
My favorite gifts that I gave were the University of Oregon golf stuff and polo shirt for me dad and Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses for my mom.
I took a nap after we opened gifts, snuggling on the sofa with a teddy bear that my dad had given to my mom. The teddy bear had a pouch, that was emptied earlier, containing a beautiful diamond ring. Our dog, Cricket, napped right below me.
Later in the afternoon, my brother’s fiancé came over, who I met for the first time. And then our family friends, Quin and Searcy came over with their adorable daughter, Anabel. They have joined us for Christmas for the past three years – a warm and welcome addition! They seem like cousins, more than friends, and we always have a good time chatting with them, catching up.
We started dinner with lasagna. Dad and I enjoyed the gluten free brown rice pasta version I made the night before. It was very good! We enjoyed a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir with it, poured in mom’s new glasses. The next course included Tuscan pork with rosemary pesto on the grill, brussel sprouts sautéed in white wine, garlic, olive oil and butter, green beans steamed and topped with garlic and olive oil. It was delicious! We poured the coffee and had spumoni ice cream with mom’s home made Christmas cookies. She had made a gluten-free batch for me and dad.
We sat for hours around the table laughing and even having some seriously dark conversations about serial killers, stemming from a conversation about gun safety. There were great highlights of funny stories, especially when my sister and I decided to embarrass my brother with stories about some of the goofy things he did as a kid, initiating his fiancé into our sibling relations, following the precedence my brother set any time my sister or I would bring a date home.
When it was all over, when all the plates and glasses had been washed, dried and set on the dining room table, we sat around for a little, winding down. My brother was the first to go to bed, as he had to work the next day, my sister and her husband soon followed, as they were getting an early start to drive back to Chattanooga, and then my dad. My mom and I scratched backs for thirty more minutes, watching a repeat episode of Jay Leno.
Before I went to sleep, I texted my cousin, Cindy, in Seattle to let her know we were thinking of the Jorgensens in Seattle, and that I would call her later. She texted me back with the same sentiments.
After that, I settled into my warm bed and said my prayers. It was crazy that another Christmas came and went. You wait all year for this end-of-year tradition, of the homecomings and the time spent just hanging out around the table, around the tree. And before you know it, the moment is gone, it passes you by and you are approaching another New Year. If you are lucky, you are able to count your blessings and feel good about all of the good things that have happened in the past year. You can smile just for getting the chance to see your family together, around the table, around the tree. Especially when your family has been dismantled, with members in different cities, even across the country or globe. The gifts become insignificant, the kinds you have to unwrap. And you realized that the real gifts are the blessings and the opportunity to be together. I thought of all of this as I was falling asleep. And I thought of the families separated this season, especially the families of soldiers serving in Iraq and all around the globe. Peace on earth is the best holiday wish and I consider all of the things I would like to do in 2008 to truly make a difference.
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