My Christmas wish list this year was a request for sensory stimulation, rather than stuff:
- my eyes would love photos of any of you, to refill the frames we already have
- my ears would enjoy hearing your favorite music and your children singing
- my nose would appreciate a bouquet of flowers or a fragrant plant
- my tongue looks forward to a taste of something you like
- touching your hands or receiving a hug is all I need to feel your love; so glad we’ll all be together!
Lucky me! Sean drew my name and granted all my wishes. He sent a beautiful Christmas bouquet, above, pleasing both eye and nose, then started cooking and occasionally, singing. Shelby gave me a book of her expert photos and Lilli and David supplied new photos of their children. Our family room display is now up-to-date. Best of all was seeing everyone in real time.
Sean played to all our tastes by grilling beef and swordfish steaks and serving them with yummy sauces*. Leslie made her famous guacamole and a tasty new dish of roasted cauliflower*. Everyone pitched in–Shelby with Crab Quiche, Lilli with mashed potatoes and lots of dishwashing, and David with Aunt Karen’s Brussels sprouts. Leslie brought champagne and chocolates. Steve kept the knives sharpened, the candles lit, and the tables set. Uncle Joe came from California with well-chosen gifts for the kids and showed readiness for his upcoming role as grandfather. Stephen and Thomas helped make Christmas cookies that everyone enjoyed.
Mabell and Fernando Gomez, Margot and Nina’s Abu and Abuelo, came for Christmas Eve, bringing more flowers, food, and hugs. After we all feasted on Florida seafood and smoked tenderloin at mid-day, they went on to see Leslie’s sister in Miami, while Sean and Shelby’s family flew to Houston to be with the Eidsons. Warm hugs all around! Fifteen people were here on Christmas Eve; nine for turkey dinner on Christmas Day.
- Nov 29 – a holiday concert by the Dreyfoos School for the Arts in West Palm Beach
- Dec 16 – Nina and Margot and several other family members joined me in Miami to see a great new production of “The Nutcracker” by the Miami City Ballet.
- After the ballet, hearing the Beethoven Symphonies David cued up for Beethoven’s birthday
- Dec 17 – singing with the choir of the First Presbyterian Church, Delray Beach
- Dec 20 – Stephen accompanying me in “The Drummer Boy” with rhythmic and creative drumming, Thomas keeping time to “Jingle Bells” with my new snowflake made of bells.
- Dec 24 – Violet playing her ukulele as we sang “Silent Night”. Singing hymns with Steve, Joe, Lilli, and Violet at First Presbyterian’s Christmas Eve Service and saying this prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
- December 21, Winter Solstice – Steve and I took the four Eidsons on an airboat ride in the Everglades Conservation Area. Shelby had found Mack’s Fish Camp online and it lived up to its billing. Marshall Jones, our guide, is a fifth generation denizen of the Everglades. The camp began in the 1930s. I liked that he had read Everglades: River of Grass and knew his Florida history. Marshall took us to a hammock island and showed how such places were partly built on mounds of discarded seashells and pottery shards. Stephen and Thomas were fascinated. Marshall let Steve and Sean drive the boat and took us to a place where Sean could have fished all day. The sunset was a stunner. We’ll be back!
- For ten days the weather was perfect for swimming, biking, playing golf, swinging, and watching for butterflies. The two who stayed extra days even made it to the beach.
- Since Violet had entered the Palm Beach Post Holiday Coloring Contest, we took her to West Palm Beach one evening to see Sandi, a 600-ton sand sculpture that was the feature of the contest. She danced to the flashing lights and led all of us to the Glow-in-the-Dark miniature golf course to play a round.
Indoor fun: Thomas drew pictures; Stephen and Violet played chess; Margot and Nina drew and lettered with Aunt Shelby; Granddad and Violet worked on Sudoku. Four of us played the “Apples to Apples” game. We read classic books like Ferdinand and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. I found a book entitled A Family Christmas that Lilli gave me when she was thirteen and newer ones that my grandchildren enjoy.
In truth, there were a few things I hope to forget, such as broken wine glasses and flight delays. Sadly, I heard that my piano teacher colleague and friend, Frances Hollans, passed away on December 10. On a happier note, my exercise routine paid off in kitchen comfort. If I weigh in at the Fitness Center on January 3 without having gained a pound, I can share in the raffle proceeds. Throughout December I received over a hundred cards, many with photos of weddings and babies. I feel grateful for experiencing such a loving and joyful Christmas and thankful to all those who came to be with us.
*Bonus: recipes from my wonderful son- and daughter-in-law
Sean’s Sauce for Swordfish Steak: Finely dice 1/4 of an onion. Sauté in small pan with a bit of butter or oil and salt and pepper. When onions are translucent, add 1/4 C butter. After butter melts, add juice of one lime and 1/4 C white wine. Add salt/pepper, if needed. Then you can use your immersion blender if you want to. Finally, add finely diced parsley. Serve warm.
Leslie’s Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Lime: 2 heads cauliflower, cut into large bite-sized pieces, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, pinch of salt, 2 T olive oil, 3 T Veganaise (Vegan mayonnaise), Juice of one lime, 3 T chopped fresh cilantro. Preheat oven to 450º. Put cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and toss with curry powder, olive oil, and salt. Roast for 20 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. While the cauliflower roasts, mix the Vegenaise and lime juice in a large bowl. When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, toss it in the bowl and add the cilantro. Taste for seasoning and serve.