Our celebration of Christmas kicked off on Tuesday evening with what seems to be a new tradition; dinner with KC Keefer and Nancy Barlow. This was the second year for what I hope becomes an annual event.
Lively conversation, a few laughs, and good food shared with friends is an excellent way to kick off a holiday such as Christmas. On Christmas eve we continued with that theme, this time with pizza and a house full of family and friends, and friends of friends and friends of family.
In spite of years spent in a valiant effort to overcome what passed for family traditions in my childhood home (a bizarre blending of the Adams family and Norman Rockwell), normal during the holidays has proven to be quite elusive. I blended my wife’s family holiday rituals with a bit of the sappy celebrations that appear in grainy black and white Bing Crosby specials but there finally came a time when, with a very deep sigh, I resigned myself to the fact that normal and I will most likely never be close friends or even acquaintances during Christmas.
|From Acme Newspictures/My Inwood|
So, on Christmas morning, as I am an early riser, I plugged in the lights on the tree, started the coffee, sent a few emails to friends, engaged in some on line discussions with others, and spent an hour or so attempting to organize the latest pile of notes and printouts for the final assault on the current book project. Then my dearest friend and I turned attentions toward the holiday, opened a few packages, and enjoyed a breakfast amply sprinkled with thoughts of the grandchildren.
It was mid morning when she turned her attentions toward the cooking of a most delightful Christmas dinner that filled the house with enticing aromas, and I again slipped into the world of stock swindles, murder, various forms of mayhem and malfeasance, cronyism, sabotage, and arson that has consumed a great deal of my spare time and thoughts this past few months.
One aspect of crafting a book that I find to be quite enjoyable is the research. As an example of the fascinating discoveries made, please consider the intriguing blog My Inwood, the initial source for this photo and the story behind it.
By late afternoon, it had become increasingly difficult to concentrate and so, after closing out the project, I let the mind wander through memories of more than a half century of Christmases.
My first memories of Christmas aren’t very pleasant. As it was the year before my little sister was born, it would have been 1962. I spent that holiday suffering through the chicken pox.
For at least the first dozen Christmases or so, with the exception of 1962, attendance of midnight mass was mandatory for everyone with the exception of dad. Before 1966, if he was home on leave, he played grumpy chauffeur and had a beer down the street until church was over as mom never learned to drive (long story, don’t ask).
After 1966, he stayed home or played grumpy chauffeur. When we lived in New Mexico, church was one block down and one block over, so we walked.
Still, on occasion a dark shadow would tinge the twinkling lights with a hint of grey. A few years ago my mother passed away on December 1, and my little sister nine days later.
My stroll down memory lane where my son was still a little boy gleefully scurrying down the hall on Christmas morning came to an abrupt end with a knock on the door. It was the man my son had become and his family, just in time for a delicious dinner of roast, potatoes, carrots, buttered rolls, and a pumpkin cream cheese roll with whipped cream.
We closed out Christmas 2014, my dearest friend and I, with a movie after a half hour spent talking with my oldest sister who lives in Texas.
Life is good. It could always be better but it could always be worse. So, I will file away another Christmas for next years stroll down Memory Lane, and turn my sites on what promises to be a most interesting new year.