Well, Christmas is over, and the house is very quiet today. The kids and I have tried out the new Scattegories game and also the new Chronology game. They are definite "keepers". I have finished up putting away the good china and trading tables back from one room to another. I think we've carried out about four trash bags of wrapping paper today that had been put in my bedroom till company was gone!
Dinner was my favorite part of the day! I love cooking a huge holiday meal, ironing my Battenburg tablecloth and all the napkins, setting the table with my mother's Occupied Japan China that my dad sent to her from Korea in the early 1950's and planning where each guest will sit.
As I get out serving dishes memories flood over me. This is the serving dish my husband bought me to go with my Homer Laughlin dishes. These are the beautiful oval serving dishes Asher bought me so my table would look prettier when we're having "dress-up" dinners, this is the gravy dish that we picked up at the flea market, and the mental blessings of life go on and on.
This year we didn't get to have any of our married children at the dinner table but we had my dad and his wife Lela and her daughter Esther, we had my father and mother-in-law, Charles and AllaDean, Uncle Mike and a couple at church that I call my extra set of parents-the Whiteacres.
The menu included ham with pineapple glaze, sweet potato casserole, baked beans, deviled eggs, Swiss medley, and a cheese plate. Lela and Esther brought green bean casserole and wonderful whole wheat hot rolls. They also brought Esther's signature Christmas food called Lefskes. (I always say it wrong-so that might not be the right name.) They are Danish (which is their heritage) and made from potatoes, but they taste like a flatbread--very good! AllaDean brought creamed corn and she fried apples. Now that was just the main dishes.
We had to set up a 6 foot table in my kitchen just to hold the desserts! It was so beautiful! I set the Christmas punch on one end and the rest of it was desserts. We had real sugar plums and meringue cookies that Mrs. Whiteacre made. The sugar plums were made from lots of fruits and then rolled in sugar--so good! Lela and Esther brought Spice Jumble cookies and cream cheese mint brownies. AllaDean brought chocolate brownies that were so chewy and rich, all kinds of candy, (turtles, chocolate fudge with walnuts, chocolate cookie dough truffles) and then we had Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Pie, Pecan Pie, and a full cookie and candy tray from all the goodies I'd been making and freezing for weeks, (Lemon Bars, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Jam Bars, Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge) . It was truly a smorgasbord of goodies!
After all the company had left I went into the living room and sat down in my quiet living room and looked around. Mary and Joseph were resting comfortably in the stable with their newborn baby Jesus. The Roman soldier stood guard in Bethlehem. Our newest member of the nativity (Tobias the merchant) was seated under the palm tree watching.
The children were in bed and had commented on what a good Christmas it had been. We had cut our Christmas budget down this year and not a one of them even seemed to notice it.
I had tried to take my annual cookie trays to neighbors and had a terrible time catching them at home since our road has gone through a major emergency on the week of Christmas. A dike burst at the TVA plant and we ended up spending Monday night in a motel because our water was too contaminated to even touch. Some of our neighbors decided to stay in the motel longer than us and still weren't home.
Our parking lot has been full of work trucks, heavy equipment and workers digging ditches and conducting traffic. At the end of our road a police officer has worked 24/7 checking licenses to make sure only those who live on this road are coming in and out. So Christmas Eve day I made up extra cookie and candy trays and we delivered them to the police officer on duty and several of the work crews. That was so fun!
My at-home children (Asher, Cierra and John) pulled a huge surprise on me this year. I have an old glider on my carport that is just like one my Grandmother Mettler had. Several years ago one of the hangers on one end got broken and my husband just wanted to get rid of it. I begged him not to and kept hoping to get it repaired. I have a wish list on the side of my fridge and the glider being repaired is near the top. Also on the list was for a shelf that has been in the shed for years to be painted and hung in my living room.
Well, two or three days before Christmas the kids asked if they could play outside and also wrap gifts in the church. We had all these workers coming in and out of the parking lot with heavy equipment so I'm giving them the speech about watching as they cross the parking lot, not playing where they are moving heavy equipment, etc. etc. and they were so agreeable. They kept popping in about every 15 minutes to tell me they were fine.
What I didn't know is they were actually at the fellowship hall painting! They had found another antique glider just like mine but in much better shape and were painting it and also painting the shelf I wanted.
Christmas morning after opening gifts they told me I had a couple more and took me with eyes closed to the carport. There was my glider repaired and with a big red bow on it! (Well, I thought it was mine!) I let out a scream I was so surprised and pleased! That thrilled the kids and then I kept saying, "How did you keep me from knowing it! I know that glider has been there all week!" So they had to explain that actually that wasn't my glider, but another one just like it. Then Asher brought me my shelf he'd painted. I was literally stunned that they'd pulled all that off and I didn't have a clue. Now that makes a mother cry with joy.
Sitting in my living room at the end of the day all the memories of this year made me realize each year is unique. You can't have the same faces at the table or the same circumstances. We actually thought Monday that we weren't going to be able to be in our own home on Christmas day. We were able to feel a little tiny bit of what Mary and Joseph must have felt that first Christmas day!
In spite of changes, in spite of not having my older children here it was an absolutely perfect Christmas day. I was still here to be with my at-home family, I was able to have guests at my table, (my dad, who has undergone open heart surgery and many health issues this year is sitting at the table in my family picture smiling), and the spirit of Christmas ruled the day. I thank the Lord for His goodness to me and for the wonderful day we had with family and friends.
I pray that each one of you had such a blessed Christmas too, and that as we head toward a new year you'll find yourself drawing nearer and nearer to the One that makes all our blessings possible.