Christmastime River

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The days surrounding and including Christmas Day have been full and flowing with love and friendship and good times. It feels like a river in which I am dreamily floating along, but somehow not up to speed, not able to live up to my expectations for myself or participate in all the activities planned by others that I’d like to. For example:

Cookies: I bought almond paste, but didn’t bake any cookies. Instead, I’ve been nibbling away at one log of paste, and thinking of making stöllen with the other package. Pearl and Joy brought plenty of cookies, so no one was lacking in that department.

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Scout gave me nut brittle and chocolate-dipped pretzels he had made, for when the cookies run out.

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Christmas Dinner: I marinated my becoming-traditional leg of lamb for Christmas dinner, with rosemary and wine and garlic. Then on Christmas Day I overcooked it!

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It was a great feast that day, with lots of vegetables: roasted butternut squash from my garden, sautéed mushrooms and sweet red peppers, creamed spinach — plus tamales! I guess we were trying to keep track of too many courses at once. Most people loved the lamb anyway, and I will make lentil soup out of the leftovers.

We ate at the big table using all of its leaves, covered with a new green tablecloth I got on Freecycle, and a new table runner that carried the theme of my evergreen tree with its birds.


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Jamie’s mountain goat

Decorating: I’m tired of some of my decorations; I’d like to get some good quality faux greenery to hang on the railings in the future. This year I hung tiny LED lights on the manzanita branch and they were pretty, but a real chore to manage; I think I’ll just take them down now that the first batteries wore down, and be low-tech with my branch in the future. This year I didn’t put any lights around the kitchen window, so I’ll have to get in touch with other sources of winter cheer.

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Caroling: Sixteen of us were here for our usual Christmas Eve festivities, mostly squeezed into about six hours during which families arrived from other towns, unloaded their cars full of children, food and gifts, and for some, sleeping gear; prepared and ate dinner; arranged ourselves and our presents around the living room and took turns opening gifts in a civilized and grateful manner; re-grouped to eat cookies and eggnog and put some children to bed; departed to our rooms or other houses and towns very late…


That wasn’t enough time to sing carols, which was a disappointment to many of us, but with the little children’s needs… Just now thinking that perhaps I could plan an easier meal somehow next Christmas Eve, so that we could sing carols before dinner?

The day after Christmas “we” did make giant snowflakes, with instructions from Kit. And we did read Christmas stories, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. So it was different, but very nice.  Some of us took a walk on Christmas Day, and others a longer hike the next. Soldier made more finishing touches on my greenhouse and the playhouse, and I began to clean the patio. I held Jamie a lot and he fell asleep on my chest as we sat by the fire.

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Scout loved the collection of rocks he was given.
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Swiss chard in the front lawn this morning
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Maggie gave Jack some treats for Christmas.

Cleaning: This is the second year in a row that I didn’t get around to dusting the living room furniture before the festivities! On Christmas morning when I was alone downstairs I noticed the dust on the piano… I’m lucky to be in a family where probably no one noticed things like that, especially with the humans and torn-up wrapping paper filling the space and all over the piano and other furniture… gl P1030228




It’s been cold, but that didn’t prevent Scout and Ivy from playing in the fountain from which the ice had only recently melted. One night an action figure got frozen in up to his waist — he was the same guy whom I’d seen underwater in the tarps that covered the planting boxes until last week.

I’ve spent a lot of effort morning and evening the last few days covering the lemon tree, melting ice in the fountain, and going out before sunup to survey the estate.

Only concern for my fountain could get me to do that! I was rewarded by seeing the various plants with their frosty crystals. The Iceland poppy shrivels to a bright crisp when it’s 27°, but by midday it relaxes as the thermometer rises, and sways gracefully again.

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Tonight may be the last of the freezing temps for a while; I will go out soon and turn on the fountain to run through the coldest hours in hopes of keeping the water in the pipes from freezing completely.

In this new week we are looking forward to our parish feast day, and to Theophany. It’s good to be carried along on that river, the flow of the church calendar that keeps me centered on my life in Christ. I am thankful this Christmas, for Him and for all His gifts.

14 thoughts on “Christmastime River

  1. Merry Christmas! I’m sorry about the lamb. For the first time in ages, I overcooked the turkey (at least parts of it), but it’s cheering how many sins gravy can cover! Interesting to read about your cold weather–it was 75 degrees here on Christmas day. No one was happy about it, but we still had a happy Christmas. I’m glad you did, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It all looked so fun and festive. You must have the energy of a hundred angels beside you to get it all done! A lovely post with pictures to boot. Merry Christmastide!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope since your freezing temps are stopping that it means it will be our turn in the plains soon! We are covered again in ice. So much “pruning” was done in our last ice storm there isn’t much left to come down.

    My Italian family always ate fish and shellfish on Christmas eve. Here they eat chili so they can go to midnight mass, caroling, candle light services and the like. Your husband was a grand caroler!!!!!

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  4. Oh what a fun, full holiday you had! We did too. Lots of loved ones coming and going. You’re a good do-er and giver, Gretchen.

    I’m glad to hear you support the lamb industry by cooking your leg of lamb. I have one in the freezer that I really must fix soon.

    Freezing temps? Us too. We have a hard time reaching above 10* these past few days. Brrr.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m just catching up after Christmas travels. It looks you had a lovely, albeit different, Christmas with your family, keeping up with old traditions and making new ones. Blessings in the new year!

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  6. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Gretchen! I’m glad you were surrounded by your loving family for the holidays.

    I too bought a nice cut of meat, a beef tenderloin roast, and overcooked it, didn’t make any cookies, nor have time for carols, but we did add a nativity play put on by the grandchildren, which was the sweetest part of our Christmas.

    I read every blog you write, and love to hear what you have to share. I also send them to Kirsten (who loves your writing style), and to Jessica. I liked the comment made about your husband being a wonderful caroler. His singing is what I remember most about him.

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  7. What a terrific Christmas! It looks colder there than it does here; we’re still not having many frosts and today is the first time I’ve seen the sun in weeks. It’s been sorely missed, too.

    Happy New Year Gretchen.

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  8. You recently visited me and so I have been having a very pleasant visit with you. The poppy is one of the most striking photos I have seen today…just stunning. It looks as if you enjoyed a pleasant Christmas with your family. Happy and Blessed New Year!

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  9. It looks like you had a lovely Christmas with your family. Your posts sound so homey, it makes me think that I am there among the festivities. I have never made roasted butternut squash, but it looks wonderful!

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  10. Your Christmas sounds quite magical and pleasant! Your family did a LOT with the time you had together. I like to think of events like that as buffets (where you pick and choose various things to do that year) instead of a meal (where everything must be done by everyone, every year). It takes the stress off. So .. this year, Christmas stories. Next year, caroling. Maybe change the meal each year. If everyone brought appetizer-type food in a buffet, ready to eat when they arrive, then you wouldn’t spend so long in the kitchen beforehand. Serve on disposable plates and dishes, to eliminate clean-up and prep. Maybe not every year, but some years. The tyranny of the historically-done can be quite exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

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