It's Christmas Eve day and the stockings are hung by the fireplace with care - and that's about all that got accomplished this season. The holiday cards are not all done and most are still scattered on the dining room table awaiting personal notes, addressing or stamps. Not a single gift has been wrapped - in fact, there is still a bit of shopping to be done. No gifts have been shipped to individuals in other cities yet. Thankfully, Uncle Amazon (and other online vendors) were very helpful in getting some packages delivered. We never did get the lights up on the outside of the house, but I did manage to get some in the big windows in the living room and dining room. I never found the old rolled-up red vinyl to turn the white pillars on the porch into over-sized candy canes. I did manage to get my collection of rustic holiday village buildings set up around the living room.
The big shock to family and friends is that we didn't put up a tree this year. Actually, we haven't had one the past two years either. Last year we were in San Francisco having Christmas with my sister. Two years ago we were leaving right after Christmas to spend New Year's with our friends who were living in Puerto Vallarta. Trees were an inconvenience in those years. This holiday it just seemed like a chore that would take too much time and energy. After all, hunting down and killing a tree, and then determining which of the 600+ rocking horse ornaments would make the cut for display, is a lot of work
Last weekend we were on the incredible boat of friends Anne & Jon, watching the Christmas Boat Parade, and I mentioned we didn't put up a tree. Anne seemed a bit stunned. A couple days later she stopped by with a fabulous bottle of champagne and a large gift bag. From the bag she pulled a little nine-inch tall tree, in a green and red basket, all decorated with miniature garland, tiny ornaments and tiny gingerbread men. She said we had to have a tree. It suddenly felt much more like Christmas around our house.
We certainly aren't "bah, hum bugging" Christmas this year. We've just had a lot going in recent months, personally and on the professional front. We've gone to several great holiday parties in both Portland and Seattle. The 50+ Christmas CDs are on constant "rotate" on the stereo system. I had a wonderful, and hilarious, Christmas breakfast yesterday with my weekly "koffee klatch" gang of Don, Ron, Steve and Myra. Tess, the seven (and a half!) year-old daughter of our friends Tim and Kristin, is in the kitchen right now making cookies with Ed (The warm snickerdoodles are fan-frickin'-tastic!). Christmas Eve will be quiet - Ed and I will enjoy crab cakes and champagne in front of the roaring fireplace of gas-logs that we bought the house as a Christmas gift last month. Tomorrow his entire family will arrive for a big Christmas dinner and later in the evening we will have another celebration with our friends Shawn and Greg, their daughter Lily and the rest of their family. On Monday my college fraternity buddy Greg, and his kids, - visiting from San Diego - will come over for breakfast. Monday night is our annual ham and latke Hanukkah-fest, and Boxing Day, dinner with friends Mary, Kate, Lisa, Bev and whomever else may stop by. Over the weekend there will be the calls to, and from, friends around the country
So, maybe this Christmas is not the perfect Martha Stewart holiday celebration, but we will have the opportunity to spend some wonderful time with those most important to us - and for us that's what the holidays are all about. That, and reflecting on the wonderful holiday times we spent in the past with the four dear friends - Sharon Nixon, Brad Hall, David Coyle and Glo Raineri - we lost to various illnesses in the past nine months. They, and their families, are in our thoughts this holiday season - as are our friends Carol (whose aunt passed away last week following a fall) and Marc (whose brother lost his battle with cancer this week).
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a joyous Solstice and best wishes for whatever holiday you may be celebrating at this time! (People need to get over the overly PC stuff - there's enough room for the holiday celebrations of all beliefs.) Thanks to all the design professionals and friends, from around the world, who have sent cards, e-cards and wonderful holiday messages.
Hugs, Jeff (and Ed, too!)