Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Friday, November 20, 2015

Snarls Dickens? When Holidays are Hard to Face

Grumpy Cat as Snarls Dickens, by artist Jewel Renee
This morning I opened the high kitchen cupboard above the refrigerator for the first time since I put away the Christmas cards I bought last January. I thought I'd get the cards down and begin to address them this weekend. I hope to get my annual Christmas letter written before I leave for Arizona for Thanksgiving.

Peering into the cupboard, I took stock of the few ornaments stored there, and once again regretted having brought so few. When I sold my house in NE Washington late last year, I gave away nearly all my Christmas decorations, keeping only a fluffy Santa that a Peace Corps friend had mailed me when I was so far from family in distant Seychelles, and a couple of other trinkets. I thought I'd have no room to store anything. I was right. I really don't. But there's a handful of ornaments that I now wish I'd kept.

For some reason, I forgot to rescue a circa 1960s Norman Rockwell coffee table Christmas book, which I inadvertently left behind. Year after year, I'd dig it out, and reread some of the holiday stories and find myself infused with the spirit of the season anew. I could use such a dose of good cheer this year.

Last Christmas was the first I'd celebrated with my son and daughter-in-law in the 25 years they'd been married. I'd always been in another country, another state, another city.

"I can't believe we're finally all together," Mari Lou had said that afternoon, as she and Steve made certain her mother, Maria, and I were seated comfortably at El Torito. Some might think a Mexican restaurant is an odd choice for Christmas dinner, but we'd all agreed we were still weary of turkey and stuffing from Thanksgiving. I remember savoring a chicken tostada and a strawberry Margarita. On Christmas a drink should be red.

Later we drove to Long Beach to revisit Daisy Avenue, with its annual Christmas Tree Lane. We concluded the evening with dessert at my new apartment, Coco's Pumpkin Harvest Pie, and glasses of sparkling
cranberry juice.

This year Mari Lou won't be with us. Losing her at the onset of her favorite time of the year, not long before Halloween, has devastated all three of us. Nonetheless, we plan to spend Christmas together once again.

Christmas still can be magical, I remind myself. As I compose my Christmas letter, I'll count my blessings. I'll banish old Grumpy Cat, and think of all those Christmases from long ago, when I couldn't wait to wake up on December 25. I'll get my letter written and the cards mailed, thankful that I still have friends who will want to open them. I'll remember the Fezziwigs and the Crachits and will honor Christmas in my heart.

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