We had a small but happy Christmas.
Lucy was finally well enough by Christmas Eve afternoon to help decorate the tree. The Charlie Brown tree I’d dragged home from the back acres was so skimpy that we laughed throughout the trimming. Just putting on the lights caused the poor branches to sag and we decided against hanging any of our breakable ornaments. Still, with our papier-maché star on the top we were pleased. Perry Como sang “Joy to the World” and the dogs wagged their tails. A tree in the house!
With no fireplace or mantel yet, I planned that we would hang our Christmas stockings on the staircase. However the old brass holders kept slipping off the stairs and thudding to the floor. Farm girl solution: I zip-tied the stockings to the balusters.
I had hoped we would get to the 5 PM candlelight service at church but I was still mucking stalls then. As it was, DH and I didn’t get to bed until midnight. We could hear Lucy coughing hard.
A normal Christmas in our family starts early. When Jon was small he was always so excited he would wake us at 4 AM. Though we are early risers by nature, I had to decree that 6 AM was the earliest any festivities could begin. This year, with Lucy sick, DH and I were drinking tea and coffee before she came down, yawning, at 7. For our family this was nearly a noon start.
Snow falling, a fire, carols on the stereo, and presents — it was a beautiful Christmas morning. We missed Jon and Amanda but the mood was still festive. We each received several books. Lucy got a pair of Target sneakers to replace her old ones with holes; DH got some khakis for work. I led them both to the basement to show them the project I have been working on for them behind the tarp (I’ll write about this when I finish it this week).
There was a lot of good-natured teasing over the titles of the used books I’d put on my Christmas list. “How do you come up with these?” DH wrote on one package. I explained that it was a fabulous study of a man hanged in Connecticut in 1777 — in fact, I’d actually anonymously corrected the entry about him on Wikipedia. As I was speaking, I caught a glimpse of Lucy’s face. I wasn’t sure if her expression was fascinated or appalled.
Meanwhile we received photos from Jon, Amanda, Ami, and Judy in Connecticut. The new family had broken in Ami early to one of our traditions, reading aloud on Christmas Eve. I always read a version of the Nativity story, Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.
By his early teens, Jon was in charge of reading aloud The Night Before Christmas. He had asked for a copy of “our” edition as a baby gift.
Ami may not have followed the plot in every detail.
But all of the photos filled me with joy, particularly this one.
Then I was busy preparing our Christmas feast, boiling and mashing sweet potatoes, kneading up a batch of whole wheat buttermilk rolls, roasting the turkey, preparing the stuffing, baking a pecan pie. Our friend Mike was our only guest this year, but the traditional meal is a big part of our Christmas.
As we were clearing the dishes afterward, I asked Lucy to take the annual photo of Mike and “Sis.” (My name is too difficult for Mike and sixteen years ago, when I discovered he had no family, I adopted him into ours.)
I thought Mike looked a bit tentative in the first shot, so in the next one, I tickled him.
Although my chest was tight, I was starting to cough, and I was in bed by 7 PM, it was a merry Christmas. I am so lucky.