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Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Christmas Day is kind of a blur, as I remember through the haze of cold pills on top of several generous glasses of wine, but it's a lovely blur. I'm sure if I could remember it all, it would be one I'd never forget.

No, seriously. Ha. Well, somewhat seriously. There were eight of us for dinner at Suzanne and John's annual holiday gathering. We swapped presents and good wishes, and after a hearty meal some of us went walking briskly through the neighborhood looking at all the pretty lights. Fresh air itself is a wonderful and useful gift.

And I only had one glass of wine. It's just that someone kept filling it. And sometimes that someone was me.

Some of our family traditions are inviolable. Everyone knows that I give calendars every year, chosen for the sake of both personality and variety. I try to fit the calendars to the interests of those I give them to, but I try not to give the same kind every year. This year I gave Suzanne a Harry Potter calendar, and so I gave Mom the memories-of-childhood calendar that I usually give to Suzanne.

I'm happy to say that the electronic organizer I gave David went over well, as did the covered sauté pan I gave to Eric. If I hadn't had hints, I wouldn't have known that those were the kinds of things they wanted. I love to give them gifts, but I'm always glad to fill a need at the same time.

I'm not hard to please, but I'm really thrilled with everything I got for Christmas. I've already mentioned the bookcases from John and Suzanne, and they also gave me a CD tower that will be very useful. Eric gave me shelving for the garage, so that my books and records will be safe when the floods come.

And David gave me a wild bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder, because he knows how I love my birds. Even though it was late when I got home last night, the first thing I did was read the instructions on how to fill and hang my bird feeders.

Mom, 1929One of the presents that I will always treasure from this Christmas is a framed picture Mom gave me of herself in 1929, when she was two. This is a photo that's been in the family album forever, but she had prints made and put them in antique frames for Suzanne and me this year. She also gave copies to her grandsons. I can't even express how much having this picture means to me.

One of the things I gave her was a gift certificate to an art supply store. She took painting lessons a few years back, and she has a natural eye and a talent that she hasn't been able to use much, with the eye surgeries she's had in recent times. But she's expressed an interest in getting back to painting, and I hope that this gift will give her the encouragement to do it.

I love this Christmas stuff, but I'm not completely sorry that it's over until next year. Yesterday was wonderful, with everyone in a mellow mood, enjoying each other.

In past years, there has been a kind of tension throughout the holiday season that just wasn't there this year. That's because the relatives who caused the tension were left off all the guest lists. It's sad, in a way, to sever lifelong ties and trim some of the fat off the family tree (if that isn't too mixed a metaphor).

On the other hand, it makes life much more peaceful and pleasant, because those of us who remain are comfortable with each other. There's a lot to be said for associating with people who make life easier instead of harder. And those occasions when we're all together are getting more and more rare, and therefore more and more precious.

It occurs to me that my job for today, to take down the tree, is going to be work. I mean, real work. And it'll create more work once I get it undressed and out the door, because those needles don't come up off the rug with one swipe of the vacuum cleaner. So maybe I'll put it off for a day. Or two.

I really need to get back into a normal routine, though, somehow. I just don't know how that's going to be possible for at least another week or two. I have new bookshelves to stock, and bird feeders to hang, and leftovers to eat.

This next weekend should help, because New Year's isn't a holiday that I spend much time thinking about. I let the people who enjoy that kind of hardcore partying go on about their business. Staying off the highway is my contribution.

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