Due to the early deadline we were given by The Times, I am writing this column on the Friday morning before Christmas.
For most of December, I feel like I could shoot myself, but all of a sudden we are at the point when the holidays become wonderful again. Most of the cookies are baked, the presents are wrapped, our house is decorated and looks so pretty. It's time to stay home and do the fun things instead of rushing around.
Mike and I brought our tree in the Wednesday night before Christmas. We got the lights all on, turned the room lights off, and sat in our living room with just the lights on the tree and the candlelights in all the windows. It was so beautiful and felt so peaceful, the happy part of being together that Christmas is supposed to be.
Linda Hearn and Leslie Baker came over on Thursday afternoon for tea and to help me decorate the tree. They were laughing at how I remember every ornament; each one has a story. Many are from the tree we had when I was a child, the Shiny Brite ornaments from the 1940s and '50s. Many were gifts from friends over the years. Having Linda's and Leslie's company made it a jolly afternoon.
Tomorrow afternoon will be the final flutter of decorating cookies. Sue Hruby, Marci Patillo, Kathy Logue, and Megan Mendenhall are planning to come over to put the colored frostings and sprinkles, sparkles, colored sugars, and fancy decorations on our last batch of shape cookies. I have the benefit of Sue's experience and all the different cookie cutters and things she collected during her years in New York, where she hosted a cookie bake for her friends' children every December. I expect to learn a thing or two.
On Sunday, I plan to attempt my first ever Buche de Noel with my brother Mike's recipe and guidance. Mike and I have talked on the phone about the mix of happiness and sadness that describes the holidays, the special recipes we both make as well as the parents we miss. I know it's that way for everyone "of a certain age."
We will have 24 (at last count) for Christmas Eve dinner. The tables will stretch from the far end of the dining room into our sunroom, from east to west. There will be several special new faces at the table this year. Our nephew, Josh, is bringing a friend, Alexi, home from Raleigh. Marci and Bob Patillo will be here from Colorado, staying with Sue Hruby. Marci and Bob's son, Aaron, will be flying in from China, where he has been working the past two years. Another friend from China will be coming with Dan'l, Xiaoshi, and Sunday Hull from Somerville. Cecily has invited her friend, Tom, and his son. There will be the familiar faces, too, Bobby, Jared, Hannah, Brian, Tom, Emily, Amy, Ezra, and Kelly.
I had an e-mail from Jamie Alley with news of his latest theatrical achievements. He has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of The Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain (The Footlight Club is America's oldest community theater.) Jamie has just finished directing Thornton Wilder's play, "The Long Christmas Dinner" and he also appeared as the Reverend Tooker in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
I want to wish a special "Merry Christmas" to Bill Francis, son of Jean and Ken. Bill is currently serving in Afghanistan with his National Guard unit.
Dianne Powers's gingerbread village was the most spectacular looking confection. Who knew she had such talents?
It is rare to have an opportunity to know how much you mean to the people in your life. I hope it was obvious to Nancy Phillips over the past few days. Thursday was Nancy's last day at the MV Hospital practice she has been part of for the past ten years. She will be moving to the Island Health Care clinic in Edgartown, where a lot of lucky patients will get to know her and benefit from her care.
I hope everyone reading this will have blessings to count this Christmas.