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DONE! Ho ho ho.

We survived another one, the crabby cat and I. She hates Christmas because the house is full of smells and noise, and all her favourite sleeping places are occupied with human beings making merry. And that is exactly why I love the day. But the rest, the pressure, the exhaustion, I am doing my best to bypass, which is only possible, of course, when your children are adults. And even then … my daughter is nearly 30, but I still want her to be pleased with her gifts, to feel special and loved, to sit amidst an increasing mountain of paper, as she used to when she was small.

We all got through with grace. Sam gave me a gift card for four hours at a spa, which is going to feel mighty good in February. Anna gave me what I’d asked for, a big beautiful jar of homemade vegetable soup, a pot of her homemade salsa and other treats, a book of Provencal cuisine from which she’ll make the recipe of my choice, other books. Holly, who knows me well, gave me a Beatles t-shirt and Beatles playing cards. A lovely fundraising calendar of naked women on Gabriola Island, from Patsy. Oh, and my favourite gift, from Anna – a “Pinko bike rider” button to wear proudly on my coat.
And then, Sam went to get the turkey from the fridge in the empty basement apartment, where we’d stored it overnight, and discovered that the departed tenant had set the fridge to its coldest setting, and the 20 pound bird, fresh the day before, was frozen solid. I emailed our guests to delay their arrival an hour, the bird spent some time under running water, and in she went at last, fully stuffed if a bit colder, wetter and later than usual.
In the afternoon, while the roasting bird filled the house with the familiar smell of Xmas and Thanksgiving, we watched “Despicable Me” which I’d rented for just this occasion. Sam however was really sick with a wretched chest cold and went to lie down; Anna went to email and Facebook on my computer, so finally it was just 60 year old me, watching a children’s movie – and enjoying it thoroughly. Highly recommended, even for those of you over eight.
Then time to make the rest: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, green beans, bread sauce, gravy, peas, cranberries. My daughter is a forceful presence with very strong opinions about how kitchens should be run, which is unfortunately not the way I run mine. She took over, did a thorough clean, organized everything, and got us in gear. There was only one meltdown, a tiny clash, shall we say, of tiny personalities, and then, yes, there was the minor accident described below in a note from my Turkish friend, who celebrated his first Christmas dinner with us:
Thanks a lot for having me and sharing the Christmas spirit with me.

I still can’t believe how you cooked all that food. The turkey looked and tasted amazing, so all the other food. Your teamwork was impressive. While Anna and Sam was cooking and preparing food like pros, Beth was drinking wine and experimenting with burning the house.

Yes, there were flames shooting up on the stove, at one point, so I grabbed the nearest glass of water and threw it. I don’t do fire well. As those of you who follow this blog can understand.
Then, guests there, everything ready and the blessed moment, six people sitting down with heaping plates, clinking glasses, good wishes, and an enormous quantity of disappearing food. Stories, laughter, dessert. Sitting around bloated and warm. The clean-up, so fast with my professional team that I didn’t lift a finger. Then the gradual departures, loaded with presents and leftovers, except for the coughing boy who went upstairs to his old bedroom to sleep, as he had the night before. It was weird, he said, waking up on Christmas morning in my old room.
Not for me, it wasn’t.
Today, a slight hangover for me and a heaping plate of leftovers for us both, loading him down with more to take home, admonishments to drink juice and take care of himself, and off he went. Empty house; Xmas over. So I did what any normal red-blooded woman would do on Boxing Day under the circumstances – I went shopping for shoes. I’d seen a pair in my vast size the other day and rode my bike over in the bitter cold to see if they were on sale today. You’ll be happy to hear that they were! And they’re the prettiest and yet most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. At least, they are today. And then a new lipstick almost free with my discount card at Shopper’s, and back to dismantle the hibiscus, put away the cards, take down the stockings, store all the bells and whistles.
Wearing my elegant new shoes, my luscious lips silent, I’m stroking the sleeping cat beside me and listening to the birds settle for the evening. Thank you to the universe for health, family and friends. Christmas 2010 – over and out.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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