Monday, January 09, 2006

Christmas 2005...and the Surrounding Days (Part 1)

We managed to get most of the boys' gifts wrapped in the weeks preceding Christmas week, so things were slightly less frantic than usual. J was off work the 22nd & 23rd, as well as over Christmas weekend. We did last minute shopping and hung out with the kiddos. I wanted to do some baking, but ran out of time. I had made some chocolate rum balls for the Uppity Book Women cookie exchange & some cappuccino truffles for faculty thank you gifts, but that was it.

We had our traditional pre-Christmas fondue dinner on the 23rd. The boys got to have cheeseburgers, which Boot made on the George Foreman grill he got for his 13th birthday. After they went to bed, we settled in on the couch with cheese fondue, hunks of French bread & salads. I have finally found a recipe that won't clump. I think part of the key is using Gruyere & Emmenthaler rather than trying to substitute plain old Swiss cheese. I think the other part is adding the cheese very, very gradually. Whatever the reason for the success, it was delicious!

We spent much of Christmas Eve day wrapping for each other & finishing the boys'. I hung out in the study listening to This American Life, a holiday program featuring both Christmas & Hanukkah music (wrapping gifts to klezmer tunes is fun), and some bluegrass Christmas tunes on public radio. J ensconced herself in our bedroom watching action or zombie flicks.

Once the wrapping was finished, I started our Nochebuena feast. I ran out of time to make the yuca with mojo sauce, but we did have puerco asado, black beans & rice, and fried plantains. Which was plenty. The next time I make Cuban food, I'll do the yuca. One of these years, we'll have to spend Nochebuena in Miami with my family.

We all got changed into church clothes (I wore a black cashmere sweater with black taffeta ball skirt & sparkly jewelry, which was fun) & walked to the Presbyterian church for the 7:30 service. We met Rachel & her niece, Rebekkah, there. Since Rachel & I hadn't seen each other in ages, we chatted a little during the pre-service music. Boot, who thinks he needs to micromanage everyone within a 50-foot radius these days, was quite displeased with us. He wrote his mother a note saying that since I am in seminary, I should know better than to talk during church...and then proceeded to write notes to her throughout the actual service! At least he wasn't getting cell phone calls from his dad in the middle of the service. Pie, on the other hand, was just about perfect. The sermon was good, the music was good, the candlelight was beautiful. Afterward, we walked home & found a gift basket waiting for us, from Rosemary & Brent. It was full of all kinds of delightful gifts, fairy notecards & a Sierra Club calendar & a little Tomi Ungerer book about cats, among other things. They are so thoughtful!

We opened our Christmas Eve gifts. Pie was bitterly disappointed that he got pajamas, even though we always get sleep clothes as our Christmas Eve gift. I guess he had forgotten. He won't wear them, so we are giving them to the son of one of J's employees. They have very little money & I know they can use anything we can spare. We bought gifts for other children of J's workers this year, too. Things are bad for so many people, financially. Boot liked his boxers, especially the Snoopy ones. J thought her nightgown, a soft cotton one, was just right. And I was utterly bowled over by the glamour and beauty of mine. J got me a stunning smoky lilac set (long gown, robe, short gown & panties). It's soft & silky & dripping lace and sparkles.

After opening our gifts, we headed out for the 11 o'clock service at the UCC...and unexpected adventure! The boys were so sleepy that when we got to the church & 2 little girls offered to share their bedding with Pie, he snugged in happily. Boot remained sitting, but only half-alert. I was the liturgist and halfway through the sermon, the pastor went into a coughing fit & couldn't get it back together. He asked me to come finish & I did! It actually went quite smoothly & I got a lot of compliments afterward. People were astounded to discover that I had never seen the sermon before & that I had never been in the pulpit before. Luckily, he recovered enough to do communion. However, after that, it was all me. It was a lovely service & we went home tired & peaceful.

Before going to bed, we put gifts under the tree & filled stockings. Then, I got our breakfast casserole cooking in the crockpot before heading to bed in my luscious new gown.

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