1. & 2. Violet on "aggressive rest." | 3. Ama captures our list at the grocery store on a windy day | 4. & 5. Sneaking in a little shopping | 6. Santa Alfie arrives | 7. Ferris Wheel | 8. &. 9. Family meal | 10. Hello. Monkey bread with jalapeno pepper jelly. | 11. Neel and Callum (and Ama) love King of the Hill! | 12. The great pre-Tom Ford clean out commences | 13. - 15. Ama is here to bake. | 16. Challah bread with hazlenut spread | 17. My workhorse of a kitchen island (at Christmas I want a bigger kitchen!) | 18. List number 3 | 19. - 21. Hiking in my happy place | 22. Some of our hikers may have been climbers too | 23. Winter sky | 24. Busy kitchen | 25. Neel's marinade (Violet looks on) | 26. Neel grills (Thea looks on) | 27. Family meal
Well, we're all having a great time over here, how are you? Violet is maybe improving? I was so worried, but we all feel she looks better than when my mom got here on Wednesday, and she for sure isn't worse. So now we wait. The vet says it could be weeks. Weeks of aggressive rest. How does that sound?! My mom and I had a great day shopping on Friday (Sephora! Smashbox!) and Saturday was quiet and nice. My dad got in Saturday afternoon and the back of his car looked like Santa's sleigh. We had our traditional first night dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and have been hanging out and having fun ever since. We took a long hike at the place I go each Friday with my friend Tracy, and I will pretend that no one related to me referred to it as the Bataan Death March. When we got back my dad and I swung by the grocery store and the liquor store. We go back tomorrow. Neel grilled his beer butt chicken and we watched football games and The West Wing. The best news of all is that my mom is staying an extra day so we get to enjoy her today too.
This is where I admit to being a total sap and you probably don't want to be friends with me anymore. Every winter between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I read a book by Rosamunde Pilcher called Winter Solstice. I read a lot of wide-ranging stuff, but for me not much beats Pilcher when it comes to satisfying comfort. Parts of Winter Solstice are terribly sad, but the premise is this group of loosely connected people gathered together around Christmas time. There are snowfalls and walks upon windswept beaches. There are restorative gin and tonics and faithful doggies. There are old chilly houses and newly-formed warm friendships. See what I mean? Satisfying. I don't care how trite and sappy it may be. Sometimes that's just what I need. We always have fun at Christmas, and we'd developed a nice rhythm, but for many years and for many reasons things hadn't been quite perfect.
Right now, this year, my house is full to bursting and things are as close to perfect as they've been in a long time. Last night, while we were getting ready for dinner, we were all gathered in the kitchen. The football game was on. My mom was making a salad (Her salads are the best, and since she's baking all the cookies they kind of cancel each other out, right?). Neel was in and out, checking on the chicken. I was sitting on the step that leads from the kitchen to the family room with little Violet and Lucy-the-beagle on my lap. Callum played his game, jumping in and out of the conversation. My dad was in the kitchen, making baked beans. We talked about one last thing to add to the Christmas day menu, and we talked about other things too. Politics, friends, football. I'm sure, if we were talking about politics (or football) there was some shared outrage. We laughed a lot. And at one point I thought, this. This is all I need. My house is full and my heart is too.
It's Christmas Eve, are you celebrating? I ask this every year...what's best? Presents or expecting presents? Merry, merry to you all.