Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Doesn't Get Much Better Than This - Part Two

Letters make the best Christmas presents.

Especially when they are from your 24 year old son who is making his way in the world. He shares a 1920's house in historical Flamingo Park, West Palm Beach, is finishing his engineering degree, has a catch of a girl friend and loves Jesus. He's got the whole package. The world on a string. He's lassoed the moon!

What more could a mother ask for? What else would be on her Christmas wish list?

Absolutely nothing. But I got it anyway!

It wasn't the handkerchief or Stephen Sondheim New York City musical tickets gifted me that made my Chrsitmas morning. It was the note in a little red envelope that brought the holiday glow everyone longs for. The "this is what Christmas is all about" revelation amongst twinkling lights, candles and shiny wrapping paper.

It read like this:


The more people I meet and know, the more thankful I am for you. Thank you for being so loving and caring. I don't know how you did it. People always assume that as a middle child of five siblings that I might have been neglected. But never once have I felt so. 

I love your adventurous spirit and your appreciation of the little things. Thank you for being the best mom ever.


Merry Christmas to me!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Doesn't Get Much Better Than This - Part One

Of all the Christmas scenes that come to mind, I think the fireplace hung with stockings and garland is the most iconic of all.

The experience was never realized here in my modern Florida Mediterranean stucco home. Prior to this, we lived in a string of apartments and a duplex. None possessed a fireplace. Only my childhood California ranch home did. That was my last Christmas with a burning fire to roast chestnuts over. Well, not chestnuts really, but tangerines, yes.  Dad would peal a juicy tangerine and throw the rind into the flames predicting an imminent roasted citrus scent to invade the living room. The fruity flambe was intoxicating.

But my daughter in Virginia got the goods, mantle and all, and decorated so beautifully this Christmas.

She started a new Advent tradition as well. Instead of a calendar with little windows to open, like the one I had growing up, she gave her kids Advent books - one each day to read.

Usually the boys rough and tumble their way through their day, driving my daughter crazy. But something unusual took place one day.

It was a Christmas miracle!

The boys were sitting quietly in front of the glowing fire poring over their day's book, engaged in an heated, yet civil, adult-like conversation about Santa's  descent into the chimney of every little boy and girl in the world.

"Why do you think Santa doesn't mind getting dirty from all the fire places?"

"Maybe he loved playing in dirt as a boy?"

This unprompted event sent mom running for the canon camera, so as not to miss this rare moment of sibling harmony around the family hearth.

Snap away, young mommy. This warm picture will burn in our memory for years to come.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving and Stargazing

A friend modeled this grand idea of cooking everything ahead for Thanksgiving to preserve one's holiday cheer and emotional stamina for the actual day. So, Monday night I chopped up the 5 pound butternut squash and started my soup recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook. It's a decades old book, but so chocked full of delicious recipes from 2 New Yorker girl friends and their gourmet food shoppe.

photo credit -
Still exhausted from the day, postponing cooking was quite tempting. Forcing myself to face the skillet, I sauteed chopped onions in butter with 5 teaspoons of delectable Pendy's curry powder for 25 minutes.

While the squash was boiling in chicken broth I took the dog for a walk on this balmy 78 degree November night. The silky breeze felt lovely against my face and bare shoulders. A walk down the curved sidewalk and I felt the great desire to lay on the dewy St. Augustine lawn and look at the glittering stars.

The tiny orbs were abundant and bright. I tried to count them and noticed the familiar constellations. I randomly wondered:

If Orion unbuckled his belt, would the stars fall down? 

A sirius-ly odd thought. I had no clue where it came from. (I hear the reader begging 'Stop!') There's the little dipper, looking like the teaspoon I just used for curry. There's the big dipper that I will use to ladle my soup.

Oh, that I could rest here all night!  By now every star was twinkling ferociously, like rubies and sapphires set in silver. What energy in those stars! A million leaping molecules making them burn and shimmer.

Surely some of that energy could be redirected to this tired woman facing the marathon cooking day of Thanksgiving. Squinting, I stared past the stars imagining the inky depth of the universe, though it appeared a one dimensional backdrop. Could I have a little bit of inertia God used to create the great expanse? Just a 1/4 teaspoon of the power He employed to speak it all into existence?

Pass the energy, please.

Back to the hot kitchen (AC out again) and my potatoes, green beans, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad, and pies.

Just a little stargazing with my Turkey Day cooking, thankful for the strength to cook and love on my family this Thanksgiving.

Daughter, April cooks her first turkey; all with 3 kids under 6. She looks perky!

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