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Christmas Memories 2008

December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve for our family ended with the traditional late night candlelight church service, and the closing song  “Silent Night” that never ceases to amaze me for the intense meaning and beauty the words impart.  Christmas Day dawned with plenty of sunshine as we opened presents, and prepared for our dinner guests.  It amuses me that at my age there is still an eagerness and anticipation for our friends to all arrive, and the bustle to get underway.  I often hear that Christmas is for kids, but I think they must mean kids of all ages.

Outside the ducks, squirrels, and little birds had an early Christmas feast of old muffins and bread I had bought for a song a couple days ago.  I tore them into little pieces, and I can say cranberry muffins are indeed not just for people anymore!  Back home on Christmas when I was a child there was always some special foods that were thrown out for the birds that never seemed to have enough food in the cold of winter, or for the outdoor cats that lived across the road, but came over to find a treat or two.


Inside we used my mom’s old counter-top roaster that she had given to James and myself about three years ago to cook the family traditional ham.  Throughout the year it is stored away, but every December we bring it out to create more memories.


James loves to create wonderful foods, and plans ahead of time how best to prepare a festive looking table.  The art of making people feel comfortable around the dinner table is something that his mom passed down to him, and we aim to foster that same feeling with our gatherings.  Our family in this home thinks that great laughter, robust conversation, and tasty food is a combination that can not be beat.

(Underneath the table cloth is a present I gave James, a glass top for the wooden table.)


Among our much loved group that gathered this year is a spry lady, Wit, (Mary Elizabeth) that plays the piano with verve and panache.  When she sits at the ivories it is only natural to gather and sing.  Her playing even hid the imperfections in my voice!  Also pictured is Sandra, and unseen but heard, were Rolf, Albert, and James.


But the most interesting thing during dinner was when our friend Rolf (who had never met the other people at our home) discovered that Wit’s husband was his pediatrician, and his mom’s obstetrician, back in 1951 at Madison General Hospital.  In fact, Rolf would have been one of the 500,000 children that resulted in a citation for which Wit’s husband was presented for his 50-plus years of medical work with children.

Rolf and Wit discuss the connection.


At dinner was one of James’ prized Spanish students, a former architect, and a great friend who never ceases to inspire others around him.


As the night fades away and the house grows quiet a very light dusting of snow falls on the ground outside.  James has just called for me to come to the window and take a look.  There in the darkness is our bunny rabbit munching on some of the muffins under the bird feeders.  If we knew where he lived we would have delivered it directly to his winter home.  James added that since there was a poppy seed muffin on the ground he hopes there is no drug test for him tomorrow at work!

It has been a peaceful and joyous holiday with friends and family, just as it should be.

  1. Sandra permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:50 PM

    Of course Wit needed two hands for playing, so one of the glasses was hers. But who counts and thanks for asking. peace, sj

  2. James permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:05 PM

    The other question might be–why were you double fisting glasses of champagne at the piano? We loved having you here with all of our friends near. Happy holidays.

  3. Sandra permalink
    December 27, 2008 9:23 AM


    Gregory and James, for a wonderful time Christmas night. Your hospitality and generosity of spirit really made it feel like the most joyous time of the year.

    I can’t think what I most enjoyed: The music, especially James’ clarion tones;the drinks; ALL the wonderful food; the lively conversation, ranging all the way from the world’s current state to a certain upstairs Third-Reichian neighbor; your joy in the evening; Rolf’s erudition; or Wit and Albert’s obvious enjoyment.

    I would’ve written yesterday but I spent the entire day trying to make my little Hell’s kitchen more amenable to future mise en place. The attempt was not a totally dismal failure: After several hours, I managed to put together a multi-layered, over-the-tank shelf that would’ve taken a dyslexic three-year-old all of 20 minutes to assemble–with one hand on a screwdriver and the other on the controls of a computer game. I should’ve known better: The box label clearly warned, ” to axxemble redy, MADE IN CHINA.”

    Oh well: I tell myself only the GOOD memories linger. So thanks again!

    Much love and fond wishes,

    P.S. Re: the photo in your blog: That worried look on my face was a result of my sudden realization that I was going to have turn the sheet-music page for Wit., and I couldn’t spot a single undecorated horizontal surface upon which to set down those two glasses in-hand. Fortunately, Wit sensed my concern and turned the page herself, without missing a beat. (Just my way of saying: Your home was decorated for the holidays beautifully and completely.)

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