Monday, January 02, 2017

The Holidays

Christmas morning at our house,
as interpreted by Prisma. 
The holidays are just about over. Tomorrow I'll be taking down the decorations and cozying up the house for winter. I'm also going to start on sending some cards and letters. I always make a good try at that in the first weeks of the new year.  Later in the week, I have a something special coming--I'm attending a knitting retreat as a regular old student, not as teacher, staff, or photographer. I'm really hoping it will be lovely. Sometimes I like it better when I'm working and not just relaxing, so it will be interesting to see if I can turn my mind to engage in a different way--to receive and experience rather than facilitate so others have a good experience.  Wish me luck.

Looking back on the last couple of weeks, though, we had a lot of fun. It's the first Christmas since 2012 that Eric and I have been home for Christmas. In 2013 we were in California for Annabelle's baby blessing and a hotel-room Christmas morning in Bakersfield, CA.  2014 saw us in Arizona for Johnathan and Kristen's wedding and an Airbnb rental house Christmas morning. 2015 put us in Utah, spending Christmas morning at Jeff and Ashlyn's, seeing the joy of our little granddaughter's Christmas morning glee.

Sara and her boyfriend arrived a few days before Christmas. We decorated the tree together, went on excursions, did some shopping, watched movies, and spent lots of time just visiting. They were both resting up from the most recent college semester, and were happy to man the couch and remote control for hours at a time, and it was just great. There's a different rhythm to life when kids are home for respite. I like making sure they feel a little bit spoiled. I know others will have different views on this, but I admire the independent spirit my kids have when they leave home to go to school. They've all gone far away, and been very plucky and determined, with a strong desire to make a go of it with the minimum amount of help from us. It makes me happy to be the mom again for a few days and make their breakfast and let them indulge in whatever they need to gird their loins for the next round of grown-up battles. Hopefully it teaches them what home really means, so they can aspire to make their own future homes places of sweetness and peace.

I got to go see a wonderful Christmas concert with two dear friends. Mark O'Connor is wonderful and I highly recommend you go see him if you get the chance. Some of his music will be familiar to you, but it's worth rediscovering.

On Christmas Eve, we went back to a tradition we started years ago and indulged in a Fogo de Chao fiesta of glorious Brazilian meats. Oh my word. So good. We also got to explore Baltimore's inner harbor for a few minutes. The ice rink was closed, and there were very few people about--it was a bit bleak, frankly, underscored by the fact that we ran into many struggling souls who asked for help. I had a slightly Dickensian feeling of awareness of how very blessed I am.

Christmas Day itself was very quiet and relaxed. We got up, went to church, came home, opened our gifts, which, with just 4 of us and all of us adults, went very quickly. Church was so fun. It was marvelous to be among beloved friends on Christmas day. It's usually a day mostly spent with family, but to feel the larger embrace of community was glorious. We went to a local mental health facility hoping to do some Christmas service, but just missed them serving Christmas dinner. We were disappointed at the miscommunication, but we took the opportunity to go explore downtown Annapolis for a lovely hour. It was a beautiful, mild day, and many people were out as well, so it felt very friendly and festive.

The afternoon and evening were spent pleasantly video-chatting with far away family, including missionaries in Canada (Andy's sister) and Argentina (our own Evan).

Eric made his traditional prime rib roast, and I filled in with a few side dishes and we feasted again. I honestly don't need to eat meat for the foreseeable future. I'm pretty sure I've satisfied my protein needs for quite a while.

The week after Christmas brought more relaxed hanging out, a wonderful dinner with friends, and a few more excursions, including my first and very overdue visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. What a sacred and sobering afternoon was spent in those halls. I'm grateful to know more details of how this tragedy developed, and was so relieved to find out about so many stories of the people who tried to help. I'm glad for the stark contrast between evil and good, so that I can make sure to be on the right side.

On Friday, Sara and Andy flew back to the west. I was happily distracted by an evening out meeting up with a Facebook friend from Australia. It was our first meeting in person, and I enjoyed it very much. I also discovered a new bookstore and spent some Christmas gift money on a couple of books on my TBR list.

And now, it's time for 2017. The passing of time doesn't really bother me, but instead makes me inevitably more grateful for the experiences I've had in the past. I hope that my future will be built on lessons from days before, but not weighed down by feelings of failure.

Here are the photos:
The big tree. I do love having a giant, 12-foot tree.
It's just so grand and festive. 

Mark O'Connor and his family band. So good. 

Festive Annapolis. Loved being here at this time of year. 

A day out with these lovelies. 

They are so fun. 

Andy claims his museum. 

The train garden at the Botanic Gardens. 

This Capitol model and the Mt. Rushmore model are made entirely of
plant materials. Cool!

Visiting the temple lights with all the people. 

We always love it when little elves come to visit. This one
perched on Sara's shoulder. 

Bad selfie at Fogo. 

The men, reveling in their full bellies. 

The Constellation on Christmas Eve. It was a bit foggy and

No ice skating, so we had to settle for heart sculpture shenanigans. 

The Christmas morning stairs pic. 

Sara standing next to her most artistically wrapped gift. 

A sunny afternoon in Annapolis harbor. I love that town. 

Shadow play on the water. 

Almost everyone on Skype at the same time. Only one daughter in law is missing. This picture is pretty much my whole
world in one frame. I love it. 

Adventures in Lefse, which is a Norwegian potato bread.
It is so good and I will definitely be making this again. 

More "scandinavian" fun. Mom's gingersnaps. I could eat these every day,
I think. 

Cemetery gate at the Holocaust Memorial. 

One of the most poignant rooms in the Holocast Memorial.
These are the shoes of the people who died in the camps. 

Sunset on the Capitol. DC is a good town.  

Total coolness on the streets of DC.

A perfect sunset over our local trail. I love that this is less than a mile from
my house. 

Third wheeling with these two. 

It was such a good visit. 

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