Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Quiet Birthday

The rainy season has descended upon northern California. It's about time, too. November was mild, gorgeous and moisture-free, a repeat performance of beautiful October in these parts. Mid-December brought us temperatures of degrees in the high twenties that reminded me of mornings back in New Jersey. Frosty mornings, crunchy lawns, scraping ice off wind shields and temperatures rising to no higher than 50 degrees during the day felt quite chilly to me. After living in California for over 29 years my internal thermostat has changed radically. Fifty degrees in a New Jersey winter would be cause to drag tee shirts and shorts from summer storage--almost. I've become quite thin-skinned over the years. These days, I freeze to death while shopping at the local Safeway year round. Admittedly, it feels good when the temperature outside hovers around the 100 degrees mark but I digress.

Today is my husband's 55th birthday. This blows me away because he was about a month shy from turning 19 when we began our relationship. We're not doing anything terribly special to celebrate. A birthday two days after Christmas is not the best time and more often than not, my darling dear gets sick just in time for Christmas and his special day. This year is no exception. He's been in far worse shape in previous years, however, so relatively speaking, he's doing okay. It's been a soggy day outside and a cozy, lazy day within. We've been enjoying a nice fire, reading and recovering from the Christmas swirl of parties, merriment and lack of sleep. Miraculously, I got Christmas Day and the following two days off from work. My husband called in sick to his work today and wisely so. I took the Christmas tree apart in the afternoon because it was literally raining needles. For the first time in our lives, it crossed our minds--fleetingly--that an artificial tree might not be such a bad thing after all. Merely thinking such a thought is sacrilege in my house and it was only a fleeting thought but...

I prepared a birthday dinner (with husband's help because he couldn't stay away from the kitchen helping with dinner if his life depended upon it) of Cornish game hens, stuffing, gravy and asparagus. It all turned out beautifully and the truth of the matter is that my husband has evolved into a superior cook and I often think some great, deceased chef has taken over my husband's cooking abilities...yes, he's that good! Back in the days when we were young and carefree and never gave a thought to what kind of food we ingested, I always made a German chocolate cake from scratch for his birthday. Ah, how time alters that which we ate in a blissful, guilt-free state. This year I made him a sugar-free, trans fat free, cholesterol free pumpkin pie. Are we getting old, or what?! It was good though and one does what one must.

It's back to work for the both of us tomorrow morning as we wend our way towards the end of this year. I wonder what the new year will hold for us, our family and beautiful planet Earth in general? I can think of lots of wishes I'd like to see come true. It will be here soon enough and time will tell.

Haven't Played in a Long Time

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1. Which of the following generally costs you more: a normal trip to your barber/hairstylist, your usual lunch at your favorite restaurant, the most recent amount you paid to fill up your gas tank, or your biggest single contribution to a single charity in 2005?  A normal trip to my hairstylist; cut plus tip

2. What drink -- alcoholic or not -- do you drink entirely too much of?  Wine, particularly red

3. Did you receive a Christmas card from anyone you didn't send one to?  Alas, yes  Did you send them a belated card in return?  Alas, no

4. Take this quiz (if you haven't already!): What is most important in your life?

Love is most important in your life.

A high love concentration indicates that you want love in your life. It is very important to you and something that you strive to attain.

Life Piechart - QuizGalaxy.com

5. Before taking the quiz, which of its categories (career, love, money, health, family or fun) would you have said would be your answer?  Love

6. Do you believe in soulmates?  Yes  Do you think that there are at least one out there for every person, that there is a single "true" soulmate for every person, or that there aren't soulmates for everyone?  I believe there is more than just one soulmate for each of us.  Some people are not blessed with finding even one.  They're out there somewhere but you have to cross paths at the right time.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Sounds of Christmas

"How can you and Dad stand listening to Christmas music day after day?" my son asked recently. "They're the same songs over and over again." My answer was simply, "because I love to hear them." He's right, of course. Christmas music is repetitive and predictable and there lie the secrets to their enjoyment. The are the same; unaltered and constant and I look forward to hearing them all over again at the end of each year. They are so familiar to me that listening and singing along to them gives me great comfort and a source of continuity of Christmases past and present.

The key element to appreciating carols and holiday songs is knowing the words. I have been part of choral groups on and off ever since the fourth grade. I've sung in many Christmas concerts and practiced hundreds of carols again and again. They are indelibly ingrained in my cerebral folds. My son has never been in any singing group. We do not attend church where seasonal hymns are sung at Christmas. He never learned any carols or holiday songs at school either. God forbid he should learn a Christmas song there! How quickly times change; school was where I learned all my Christmas music.

As my mother did before me, I start playing Christmas music in our house on December 1st. I suppose my son has been listening to these songs for so long that he hears them but doesn't really listen to them and probably tunes them out for the most part. For the first 42 years of my life, my family gathered around the piano to sing songs before or after dinner (sometimes both) on Christmas Day. My mother sat herself down in front of our old upright and played one song after another. This wonderful, much looked forward to custom died ten years ago when she did. No one else in the family plays and we haven't sung together since. My son was only seven then and just beginning to be part of this joyous, good-natured raising of voices. This was one of my favorite parts of Christmas and I've missed it a great deal.

Christmas is a time to envelope and cherish one's family. It's a time for special meals, fancy desserts and gifts from the heart; an opportunity to let everyone in the family know how much they are loved. I have always loved Christmas and married a man whose enjoyment of the season transcends mine. I don't believe Christmas is just for children. I enjoy gift giving and receiving as much now as I ever did as a child. Do presents, Christmas trees, glitterydecorations and perhaps eating and drinking a bit more than usual have anything to do with the birth of Jesus? No, they don't but all these things are very much parts of a whole of what is still important to me to continue to experience and celebrate the Christmases I knew and loved as a child. I realize, of course, one has to be blessed with happy memories of past Christmases to feel this way and I have been. The holiday is more of a familial experience for me than a religous one. Is that so terrible? I think not.

Welcome Christmas! Bring your cheer!
Cheer to all who's far and near!
Christmas Day is in our grasp!
So long as we have hands to clasp!
Christmas Day will always be!
Just as long as we have we!

"WELCOME CHRISTMAS" Dr. Seuss and Albert Hague

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I send you my wishes for a happy and healthy new year.