Christmas wreath
Christmas decorations are an integral part of celebration.

Christmas brought travel, music and celebration

Christmas was a weeks-long celebration with friends, food, and music. Travel, children and a Christmas Eve candle light service were highlights of a joyful Christmas season.

So this was Christmas: Music, laughter, travel, bitter cold, unseasonable warmth, family, excited children, drive-through light and music display, last-minute shopping with my grandsons, too much delicious food, Christmas Eve candlelight service, new socks, and the wonder of a two-year old.

From the Saturday after Thanksgiving and a long overdue sibling reunion to a cross-country trek from Tennessee, to Alabama, to Dallas, Texas, and back the same way, we logged a lot of butt-wearying miles, ate way too much fast food to save a few minutes of travel time, and  heard “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a gazillion times.

We lost the makings of a good batch of cornbread dressing to some opportunistic ants—store-bought stuffing is not as good as Pat’s dressing, but it served. I found a decent fruitcake—and ate it. The Christmas cards went out—late but still postmarked before Christmas.

We had some cold weather just before Christmas, and I was reminded to be careful of what I wish for. Temperatures in the low teens tend to curtail outside celebrations. But the few days before Christmas turned almost balmy, in the 60s with a bit of drizzle. No snow—no problem.

FAMILY FESTIVITIES

We visited family we had not seen in months, or years. We ate Greek, Italian, Japanese, Southern, and non-descript. We gorged on chocolate, devoured Pat’s homemade pralines, and warmed up with my sister-in-law’s taco soup. Turkey, ham and Cornish hens; beans, cranberry sauce, and squash casserole; chocolate cake, strawberry cake and cherry pie offered ample opportunity to overindulge. So I did.

We wrapped and bagged and stuffed Christmas stockings, and we tore off paper, emptied the bags and dumped the contents of the over-sized hosiery. We watched our grandsons gleefully rip open packages and quickly thank the persons responsible for the gift. Hugs followed. Good manners are never outdated. The little one was overjoyed with each new toy and we were even more joyful just watching his eyes light up.

The weeks before Christmas, as always, came with a full helping of stress, more for Pat than for me, as usual. But we took advantage of the new-age wonder—shopping by internet—to save time and the hassle of fighting crowds. We decorated—inside and out.

The Johnson City Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert was nothing short of magnificent; the Christmas music at First Presbyterian was moving; the middle school band concert—our grandson plays trumpet—was equally enjoyable.

The Christmas Eve candlelight service and communion offered an appropriate finale to two weeks of celebration and festivities. And Christmas Day was a quiet, restful, lazy day with a modicum of football; a bag of orange slice candy (Jordan almonds for Pat); more Christmas music from the Boston Pops on PBS; a 30-minute walk in balmy weather; texts, emails and attached photos from friends and family; a juicy Cornish hen for dinner; and a deep appreciation for the 36 Christmases Pat and I have celebrated together.  We hope Peace and Joy was yours as well.

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