Tuesday, December 31, 2013



Catching up with the Old before the New turns:

Chris and Caro and I just opened and admired and chatted and laughed, in that easy way of family or old friends, enjoying the contents of the stockings like little kids. We opened our presents to each other, and were pleasantly surprised and delighted, all around.
One last unexpected item, Chris handed to me in an envelope, and it WAS a surprise---I hadn't thought of it in a while.   And, true to his imaginative self, he'd even skimmed through Sweetpea's movie shelf for just the item he wanted.  It tells a story in itself. 

 I've long wanted a board fence to enclose the far back of the arbor, and something so frivolous and thought-of-maybe-twice-a-Summer was just a passing fancy, but Chris Never Forgets.  Moire non of the fanciful silliness we got into regarding decorating the fence, and having a big gathering to get all the grandchildren into the Tom Sawyering of it, and how we'd buy out Sherwin Williams and it would become a Mural for The Ages.

 After about an hour, I came down to cook bacon---glass-bacon we call it, for they both like their bacon cooked to a shattery finish, to crunch into little shards---to go with the gorgeous lemony Danish coffee-cake Caro had made before dawn.  Remembering the tee-ninecy, sumptuously-sauced potatoes from Christmas Eve, I put them in a pot and gave them another quick simmer, to remove some of the butter and sour cream and cheese, drained them, and took it all up with big square Christmas plates and a pitcher of tea.


I’d heard more clatter than Santa on the roof from up there, and knew it was Chris setting up a new little table in the sitting room---it’s just a folding stand, maybe 2’x 4’, with a top which rolls up like clattery marimba keys.   It’s just the cleverest thing---a camping table (as if) and we set it with a cotton cloth, plastic plates,  whatever-glass we’d brought with us, and last night’s cheese ball in Tupperware.  Caro had been busy with her immense new wok, and had made the most golden scrambled eggs and some little sausages, and she’d cut a fresh pineapple and set out a dish with a bit of Brie, Lil and Ben’s marvelous fruitcake just-arrived-in-the-mail, and more of their glorious candied figs.

Just look at the layers of tender crust and lemony filling and icing.


What a feast, and what a wonderful time---we recounted the fun of Christmas Eve, laughing at the long mis-communication between Chris and Sweetpea, as he was wearing the earphones to her new little boombox, trying to get it all connected, and she was showing him her two new FROZEN Princess dolls from Caro. 


Look at these, Ganner,” she said, waving two Barbies in the air like semaphores---and he answered, “Almost got it!”


 These are the Princesses, Ganner.”


Yes, I can hear it now,” he’d say, nodding and bobbing the pouf on his Santa Hat.


They’re the ones you and I saw in the movie!” she shouted.


It’s moving right along!” he’d say enthusiastically.


The rest of us were about to burst from laughing, and we started getting into the conversation, shouting out, “Three O’clock!!”  


Egypt!” and just cackling as they kept talking at odds.


We also reminisced of our own childhood memories, of books and visits and bbs and bikes, of do you remember the night the two ladies both caught their hair on fire at the cantata, and the time Mrs. Smith  fainted into the poinsettias?


We sat at that sunny table, so oddly plastic and plain for a Christmas brunch, and talked for more than three hours.   We were all in easy chairs, in our comfy clothes, with the ease of a day to spend together, and that was a marvelous gift, in itself.


There was no scurry to get the dinner on the table hot, no bring more chairs, no run-up-and-get-the-Pink-Salad, no FORGOTTEN THING.  I kept thinking of the folks timing the turkey, stirring the last-minute gravy, side-stepping two little boys chasing each other past the rattling good china cups all stacked for coffee-with-dessert, and hoping that THIS year, everything will get onto the table hot-all-at once.   


I miss those times mightily, the  preparation and all the happy confusion and family closeness that those things have brought all the years.  But what we experienced yesterday, on that quiet day, was also a blessing, just to sit and talk and remember, with folks who share so many of the same memories, amongst the scattered wrappings and leftover Christmas lights.    




Patsy said...

Hi! Hope the New Year will be a happy one for us all.

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Rachel,

How wonderful to hear the relaxing time you spent with your friends and family on a Christmas day. Opening your presents, finding a charming surprise from Chris and having the most delicious breakfast. It sounds just perfect. Most people spend their Christmas morning in the most frantic manner of preparing for a big lunch, fretting about their relatives and stuffing the turkey.

In one year, I was cooking for a big Christmas lunch and the gas ran out in the oven. Panic stricken with the thought that my Christmas party could end up eating ham burger, crisps or chicken curry from Indian takeaway shop, I had to hire a taxi and take the turkey in the roasting tray to Gordon's house with a battery operated hairdryer in my hand blowing the foil-covered bird to keep it warm in the taxi and eventually, I had to cooked the whole turkey in Gordon's kitchen.

I said I wouldn't do a big Christmas dinner again with the imagined fear that my oven might run out of gas during the preparation.

But what you had was complete opposite to most people on Christmas morning - having a leisurely breakfast/brunch, opening presents from the loved ones, saying thanks for their kind thoughts and yes, remembering all those memories and sharing irruption of laughter, smile and warm emotion in each other's hearts.

Wishing you all the very best for 2014. Happy New Year.

Best wishes, ASD

Beverly said...

It sounds like a perfect Christmas morning, and it certainly will be one to add to your treasure trove of Christmas memories.

My son and grandson get here at 2:30 Christmas afternoon. I first thought I would so miss Christmas mornings together, but I have learned to enjoy the quiet intimacy and the anticipation of their afternoon arrival.

Our tradition for Christmas dinner is lasagna - always prepared in advance. Such a delight because all we have to do is heat it and prepare the accompanying dishes. Very easy peasy.

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Good morning Rachel, I spent the last 10 minutes reading and admiring your Christmas morning and your previous post of the most fabulous stories and food. I love the warm welcoming photo of your wicker chair and gifts all around. Christmas breakfast looks so delicious and your relaxed morning of memories brings a big smile to my face. The communication between Ganner and Sweetpea is adorable. I LOVE the way you write so much.

The note about the fence really gave me a chuckle. I received a similar note from Bill saying I will get a back splash for my kitchen. Something I have wanted for a long time. We have great husbands!!!

The car is packed and we are leaving in an hour to visit our oldest children who live in TN. It is 2 1/2 hours from here and we will be there overnight. We have not exchanged Christms gifts with them yet. The sun is supposed to shine by then. I am sitting here with wet hair so I better get going. It is 13 degrees this morning. The high is in the 30's. I am wearing my cute black fur lined boots. It snowed in TN last night so I will be prepared. We love visiting Brett in his 1930's home and it will be so pretty with the snow.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year full of laughter, love and blessings.


Kim S. said...

What beautiful memories y'all are building! Breakfast looks and sounds delicious - Caro's lemon coffee cake is amazing looking.