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Sunday, December 24, 2000

The family came by last night for an informal get-together here at my new place. It's really the first time I've had them over for more than just a drop-in. And I didn't have to do a thing! They brought all the food, and spread it out, and we had a pleasant evening together.

I did, however, spend some time before they all got here trying to get the house in shape. I don't have visitors all that often, and I don't put a lot of day-to-day effort into keeping things in order. So it was probably time to dust and vacuum, even if no one had been coming here.

My problem is that I'm easily distracted from tasks that don't especially interest me, and that would include almost everything involving neatness and cleanliness and whatever else is the opposite of slovenliness. (Remember, you can't spell slovenly without love.)

What was I saying? Something about cleaning? I was sorting the old mail yesterday afternoon when I came across two past due bills, so I stopped working and went through all the bills and got up to date, as much as I could with only one paycheck left before the rent is due.

And I found some record club notices that were also past the time to send back the cards, so I'll have more surprises coming in the mail in the new year. I promise, though, that some time before the next millennium, I'll quit all those record clubs and book clubs and cheese-of-the-month clubs, and everything else that keeps me paying for things I didn't want.

Speaking of which. One other piece of junk mail I almost threw away turned out to be something I apparently agreed to in a phone conversation with some credit card salesperson. For $95 a year, I'm a member of the bank's travel club. Now, I don't remember agreeing to this, and since I don't travel, the possibility that I really bought this membership seems a little remote.

So I sent them back all the brochures and ID cards they sent me, and informed the bank that I wouldn't accept any more such charges. I don't know if this will get me off the hook, but from now on I'm not even going to listen to anyone trying to sell me something over the phone, since I always seem to end up with stuff I'd never buy if I was thinking clearly.

Where was I? Getting distracted from cleaning, I believe. I ran the dust rag over the end tables and the vacuum over the rug, swabbed out the toilet and washed the dishes (not at the same time). I made sure that the table was clear, so that there would be space for the veggies and chips and cheese ball and dips that Suzanne brought, and the cornbread that Mom brought.

ready for company

I think I may have done some other cleaning, too, but it's all kind of a blur. It just seems as if I was busy all day, fussing over the general state of things and making sure that I wouldn't be embarrassed. Then I remembered who was coming. They know me, and they'd find something to laugh at me about, even if the place had been scrubbed and sanitized.

For example, I have no control over the way my amaryllis bulb is growing, and yet it was the source of great amusement. Not that I, personally, was mocked, but it's fairly typical of the luck I have with plants, even when I follow the directions to the letter. Direct sunlight, check. Water daily, check. So why is my plant the one that grows upside down?

don't dawdle, amaryllis

Anyway, it was grand having everyone here. They brought me new ornaments for my first Christmas tree. We watched the football game and chatted about this and that, while munching on all the finger foods. I don't really know how to be a host, so I just relaxed and savored the moment.

Here's my wonderful family enjoying my new home.

L-R: Mom, Suzanne, Eric, John, David

My holiday wish for everyone is that they could have a family as cool as these people around them.

soon to be filled with booksAnd then, when I thought everyone was getting ready to leave, John brought in the big surprise. He had made me two shelf units as my Christmas present from him and Suzanne, and I was suddenly faced with the decision of where they would go.

Since I was caught totally by surprise and hadn't given it a second of thought, and since I was so stunned that I couldn't think as coherently as you know I always do, I stammered and sputtered and threw up my hands. But after calming down and discussing it, we decided that one would go nicely into each opposite corner of the living room area.

I'm still a bit overcome with all this, and grateful for the thought and work that went into the present.

Mom and I are still getting over our colds, so we're going to spend today together. Makes sense, doesn't it? I'll go to her house tonight for a little dinner, and then we'll exchange our gifts for each other. Tomorrow we'll all be at Suzanne's for the big feast and holiday extravaganza. And then it will all be a beautiful memory.

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Then how the reindeer loved him.