Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Christmas Report

If all had gone to plan today we’d probably be somewhere in Kentucky right now. It’s a long story. I’ll get to it by and by.

But we had a lovely Christmas here, just the four of us.

Christmas Eve we had our Odd Number of Kinds of Fish dinner – popcorn shrimp, spaghetti with clam sauce, and a Caesar salad since that has anchovies in the dressing. Apparently this is called La Vigilia, though when I was growing up we just called it Christmas Eve dinner. You’re supposed to have seven kinds of fish, but some people have fewer and some have as many as nineteen, which is rather excessive. As long as it’s an odd number the Italian saints are satisfied, I suppose. My dad – the only person in my immediate family when I was a kid who enjoyed eating fish, ironically enough – used to say that one is also an odd number. But we go with three these days because we can find three we like.

For those of you who doubted me when I said that I cannot actually get my iPhone to take decent photographs, well, now you know.

We also had fresh homemade biscuits, and for dessert we had the French Silk pie that I made earlier that day. There were gifts exchanged – a custom from my side of the family, where Christmas Eve is the big holiday – and then we mostly hung out. Lauren’s friend Nolan came over after that and we had a very nice time together.

Christmas Day I continued my tradition of getting up long before anyone else. I’m not sure why this happens routinely, given my general preference for night over day, but this is the one day of the year that I don’t mind so much. It’s quiet, and I can sit by the tree and think about things. Eventually people filter on down.

We decided to have a Christmas brunch, though since it was early afternoon by then perhaps “linner”? “Dunch”? Who knows. But we had bacon that needed to be cooked and a fresh box of eggs, and what more do you need? It was good food shared with loved ones and that’s all that mattered. Conversation largely focused on biology for some reason – bacteria, parasites, and the symptoms and progression of rabies, for the most part – but we had a grand time and even learned a few things. You have your holiday topics, we have ours.

Eventually there was dinner again – ham, potatoes, green bean casserole – and if it sounds like we are a group that thinks from one meal to the next, well, you’re not wrong. Kim decided to make a bourbon glaze for the ham so I looked through the cabinet where such beverages are stored and came back with two bottles that we inherited from my parents, a nearly empty one with a tax sticker from 1978 and another more full one with a tax sticker from 1976. What can I say? We weren’t tee-totalers, but we weren’t really big drinkers either. They made a nice glaze.

Yesterday we started the day preparing for our Second Christmas, which by rights was supposed to be our First Christmas (there will be another next month which will either be the new Second or the Third depending on how you count – we do this holiday up right) except that the worst winter storm in decades pretty much shut down the entire eastern half of the United States on the two days we could have driven to Tennessee so we stayed put and had our own Christmas here (vide supra).

We’ve had three years in a row of Christmas at home now, in this pandemic decade, and we’re starting to create our own traditions for them, which is a nice thing. We’ve discovered we’re a pretty relaxed group that way, and that’s lovely.

But we had plans to be in Tennessee today, so yesterday Oliver and I went off to do some final errands and ransom his now fully operable laptop from the repair shop. This was when Kim texted to let us know that Lauren’s cold was in fact Covid.

The rest of us have all tested negative since then, but rather than take a chance on exposing the extended family we are staying home. It was a sad decision, but the right one. Lauren feels fine – it’s a mild case, fortunately, as one would expect in someone fully vaccinated – and she has gone back to her apartment, where she has more space to rattle around and can cook her own meals without worrying about us.

So we’re here, with a few days of found time to hang out again. Perhaps we’ll keep working on the Christmas card, in the fond hopes that it will be out in January. There’s also a puzzle we’ve been meaning to start. There are books to read and I’ve got a pot of gravy and meatballs simmering on the stove. We’ll see what happens. It would have been good to see everyone, but we’ll figure out a time to do that later.

Merry merry, joy joy.

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