Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas cheer

Merry Christmas to you all!

today was truly a red letter day, actually as was yesterday. three days of baking aside, we still had cookies to bake yesterday so we started early, nagging the Grandma and negotiating her down from an arrival time of 4pm to 12:45pm. while waiting for her, we knocked out the sugar cookies (4 c of flour worth). Grandma arrived and it was time for the pecan puffs. there is no explaining it-the puffs are always better when she makes them. we managed to finish the puffs by 3:30pm and had time for a small rest before dressing for church.

after lengthy discussion we had decided to attend the 5 o'clock service at Westminster Presbyterian over the late Eve service or the Christmas Day service. Westminster is a delightful church with a spectacular music program and a progressive minister. [sad that it has to come to this but they have gone so far as to state explicitly in the program that all are welcome, regardless of denomination, race, nationality or sexual orientation.] the service was charming and given the year we have had, we all found ourselves reduced to tears at one point or another.

from church it was off to renew another tradition-Christmas eve dinner at the Chinese place. (more accurately, it is the Chinese Garden I but we have never referred to it as such.) several years have passed since we ate there and many more since we spent Christmas Eve there. they immediately recognized us, scolded us for our long absence and pampered us shamelessly. we dropped Grandma off at her place and returned home to wallow in one middling quality Christmas movie after another.

this morning we woke leisurely. Grandma arrived about 9:30am and we made mimosas, scrambled eggs and biscuits for breakfast. afterward, we started the turkey and opened presents. Santa still brings us stockings (with a lot of help from various family members)! after opening gifts for each other, it was time for our 4th annual Great Cookie Drop.

the Great Cookie Drop is probably my favorite part of the day-a perfect melange of family, thanksgiving, surprise and love. after a weeklong baking frenzy, we take the cookies to those who serve and safeguard our society instead of being with their own families on the holiday. this year, we baked 5 lb of butter worth of cookies: Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies and pecan puffs. the cookies are bundled into wrapped boxes, weight varying according to anticipated head count. this year we expanded for a total of two fire stations, the enormous central police station, and both arms of TSA screening at the airport.

the first couple years, we were greeted with confusion and surprise, though never suspicion. although we always have to break into the police station, TSA used to be my greatest concern. who knows what they might think we intend? we half expected to get arrested the first year we went to the airport. these days, there is no concern. there is little confusion at our visits and much, much joy. sure, we still have to break into the police station-no one is ever at the front and the back is closed off by automated fences-but they are always glad to see us. once we made our cookie drops, we headed home to finish the turkey and dine quite well.

after supper, it was time for our annual viewing of A Child's Christmas in Wales. the evocative words, the beautiful imagery-just stunning. (don't worry, we did not forget our other favorite. we watched the original 1952 version of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors with Bill and Kelly before they left for Ireland. we hate being away from them, but Joanie McCarthy deserves special Christmas visitors as well.) after the movie, we enjoyed a festive carpool to take Grandma home. once home again, we watched the end of a few Christmas movies and the last of the Vikings/Ravens game. finally, there were hugs and general agreement that THIS was the best Christmas to date before everyone trundled off to bed.

peace to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

second service

we have been quite busy enjoying the holiday so it has taken a few days to post this but we thought you would all like to know about the following.

in the early (and late!) days after the accident, Mom received an incredible number of teddy bears and other stuffed animals, cards and we all received more support than one would think possible. as she has continued to heal, we had debated what to do with all the bears. they are all very dear to us, Mom especially, and have provided incredible comfort but the time has come to move on. after great discussion, Mom decided that we should take the majority of the bears to a local shelter. to that end, we searched online and eventually discovered Safe Haven.

Safe Haven is an amazing place. it is one of only two shelters in Tennessee that keeps the family together. they work to get people back on track and back in a home of their own. when we arrived, there were no adults in view but we were greeted by three sunny children who guided us to the right place. it turned out that one of the kids belonged to Bruce Newport, the executive director, and frequently came to play with the kids leaving at the shelter. Bruce gave Mom and i a nice tour, completely unphased by our alternate crying and joy. the toys will be given to children living in the shelter and to children of local indigent families. children for whom Santa would otherwise not come.

here we attach a picture of the many bears and their friends under Safe Haven's tree for your enjoyment.

it was a very gratifying experience and a true opportunity to share some of our blessings with those less fortunate. we hope you share our joy in passing on your gifts of love and hope to those truly in need. keep your eyes peeled-Mom will most certainly have much to say about this wondrous holiday season herself!