Two blogger friends, Tric of My Thoughts on a Page and Jay Dee of I Read Encyclopedias for Fun, have done recent posts about their (and others’) and their countries’ experiences of Christmas. Tric is from Ireland and Jay Dee is from Canada but has lived in Japan for a number of years. They each asked for comments about their readers’ Christmas experiences, so this post is doing triple duty – for my own readers and to put in the comments for Tric and Jay Dee.
This Christmas, my husband B and I are very happy to have our older daughter E and her husband L visiting from Honolulu and our younger daughter T home on break from grad school in Syracuse, New York, about a 90 minute drive from here.
With most of the holiday tasks under control, we started Christmas Eve day with a trip to a morning showing of the new Star Wars movie, a second time for each of us, although a first time seeing it together. In the afternoon, we did some chores, finished up the gift-wrapping, and rested or took naps to be ready for a late night.
At 5 PM, we were happy to be able to livestream a radio broadcast of Holidays at Hendricks, from Syracuse University. Although T is in grad school at SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry, she is eligible for music activities at Syracuse University which is directly adjacent to the ESF campus. This year, she is singing with the Hendricks Chapel Choir, so it was extra-special to hear her choir sing on this program.
After dinner, B and I made date nut and cranberry breads for Christmas breakfast and listened to E and T sing Christmas carols, accompanied by L on the piano. So beautiful! I managed not to cry, but barely.
About 11:00, B headed to bed and E, T, L, and I headed to Holy Family for midnight Mass. The church which we attended when the girls were young and in which we all served in music ministry is closed, but we were happy to attend Holy Family where our former music director and good friend landed, along with the music library and handbells from our old parish. T sang and rang handbells at Holy Family before she headed off to grad school. There are enough people we know there that it felt like a homecoming.
There was a half hour prelude by the Genesis (adult) choir, handbell choir, and guest trumpeter, followed by midnight Mass. Father Clarence’s homily brought together the Scripture and our current world, as good homilies do. He reminded the congregation that the Holy Family fled to Egypt for safety as refugees do. He asked what would have happened if Egypt had closed its borders and sent them back. He did not have to mention Syria to get the point across. He also spoke about our need to seek peace, even in the face of violence in the world, by referring to a French man who lost his wife in last month’s Paris attacks but refuses to be bitter.
After a short night’s sleep, most of the household was up at 6:00 to start on Christmas dinner, the gentlemen taking the lead. L was making bread and B made the lasagna, using the recipe from my mother. We started making lasagna for Christmas Day back when my daughters and I used to be involved in music ministry for a Christmas morning children’s mass. We would assemble the lasagna the day before to bake after we got home from church to eat Christmas dinner at noon. Now we continue that tradition.
Between kitchen tasks, we ate breakfast and opened stockings and gifts. E and L went for a walk in the way-warmer-than-it-should-be December weather. A bit before noon, Nana, Paco, and Grandma arrived. Everyone enjoyed dinner, followed by Christmas cookies, fruitcake, and fudge. There was another round of presents. E and L made presents for the grandparents. E made a counted cross-stitch of a row of girls – Japanese for Grandma and Hawaiian for Nana and Paco. L made a paról for each home, including ours. A paról is Filipino star-shaped Christmas ornament, traditionally a bamboo lantern, although these were made from paper. L made them for us in honor of his parents’ home country, where they grew up before immigrating to the UK as young adults.
We had a lovely visit, which was followed by some more family visits facilitated by technology. E and L visited with his family in London by skype. December 25th is also L’s father’s birthday, so there was an extra reason to call. Only being five time zones away instead of ten as they are in Honolulu was a help. B and I talked by phone with B’s brother. We didn’t talk to my sisters, but they will be arriving in town tomorrow for the continuation of our Christmas celebration.
We played Apples to Apples this evening and have been watching some television while I write this post. I don’t know if our Christmas is a typical US one or not, but it is special for us, especially because we were able to have both daughters here, something that becomes rarer as they get older and head out on their own. I hope other people have had lovely days filled with family, food, and love.