12 Delights of Christmas

Yesterday was the Twelfth Day of Christmas – the last day of the liturgical Christmas season;  today is Epiphany.  The days of Christmas definitely had their delights as far as I am concerned.

  • The Blue Christmas service at my  church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Houston, was designed for people who might be grieving, bereft, or just grimly stressed, and was reverent, thoughtful, beautiful and holy.
  • Everybody in Houston got what we wanted for Christmas:  RAIN!
  • An owl in a university tree:  when my Rice Alum friends Becky and Marc and their son Beto came to town, we walked around the Rice campus and located one of the Screech Owls that roosts in the trees outside the West entrance of the Library.  The treetop was swaying in a stiff breeze.  Becky commented, “For the owl that must be just like sleeping in a hammock.”
  • My dear friend and former colleague Ola gave me P. D. James’ Pride and Prejudice murder mystery, Death Comes to Pemberly, for Christmas.  What a joy to have an enjoyable  and distracting book to pick up and read over the holidays!
  • My friend Kristin came from Washington DC to stay a few days.    She nested in my guest room a.k.a. the better half of my living room.  She enjoyed turning on the lights in the Christmas tree at night and when she had to get up early a couple of mornings for meetings.  Not many guest rooms come with a full-size Christmas Tree!
  • I like my tree too.  According to my friend Bethe, whose family came from Poland, a Polish Christmas tree is one so decorated that you can’t see any tree. After upgrading to a 7 1/2′-footer this year, since I now live in a condo with high ceilings, I have a Texas Christmas Tree: bigger than it has to be, with spots of local color and lots of elbow room.

  • Another friend, Lila (and there’s a theme here:  I am wonderfully blessed with friends!) is recuperating from surgery and, being an industrious person, itching for constructive things to do.  She’s proofreading the dark fantasy novel I just finished.  Wow!  Proofreading a book is a long and detailed job, and almost impossible for the writer of said book, who is much too close to the story to see the typos.
  • I read the novel too as a prelude to the last editing pass.  I only caught about 20% of the glitches Lila did, but I found a slew of structural fixes to make, and I enjoyed reading it.  It’s a dark fantasy set mainly in the 1880’s Nevada and Utah Territories.  Now, on about the overall fourth (and in places six or seventh) draft, I think it really works.
  • New Year’s Eve was a delight with Kristin and Lila and Lila’s husband Jim and my friend Eileen and her husband Gene at their home in Friendswood.   They live in a residential air park and just being there ups the quotient of fun had by all.  Jim made eggrolls, Eileen made Chinese dumplings and hot and sour soup, we greeted the New Year on Bermuda time, and everyone got home before midnight and before the local revelers hit the road.
  • I made a pecan pie from a recipe in the November issue of Southern Living Magazine.  The Holidays are a grand time for modern takes on traditional food;  and  Southern Living, when it really connects with a New Southern recipe, hits it out of the ballpark.  I was wondering about some of the recipes in the December issue which tilted toward more avant garde fare.  My eyebrows shot up at the recipe for Sweet Potato Latkes in a section of new Hannukah food. But a good friend and colleague assures me that sweet potatoes make for extremely tasty latkes. Mazel tov!
  • For those of us who didn’t have to go out of town, the holidays mean time for home improvements if desired.  I tackled a stack of memorabilia, some of it from Mom’s house when we sold the house, and the rest of it remembrance material from my adult life.  This was all stacked in a corner with some full plastic tubs holding up part of the stack – meaning no way to assess the contents of said tubs without taking down the stack.   That problem is no more.  I integrated a small file cabinet and four plastic storage cubes into the stack and now it works (and looks!) much, much better.
  • New Year’s Day came with a morning of crystalline coolness and clarity. I was driving back from Church and saw a hawk thermalling over Greenbriar and Rice Boulevard.  I had my car’s sun roof open.  While parked at a red light I saw the hawk’s  flight feathers shining at the edges of its wings and its red-tinged tail glowing in the sun.  The hawk thermaled higher and higher.  What a great good luck sign for 2012!

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