December 10: I groused my way over to the couch to catch up on a neglected pile of emails. (Could I wash dishes instead? Please?) Kevin shook his head: Emails, he said, are a lovely way to stay connected. I huffed and ignored him.
And of course he was right. In just a few hours, I reconnected with my best friend from law school (hi, Joan!), enjoyed the Christmas traditions of New Zealand blogger Thistles & Kiwis, shared mushroom stories with Singapore blogger Ju-Lyn, melted over snow photos from Maine’s Hinterland, and wobbled in amazement to see splendid photos of frost-trimmed leaves from Canada. And if you love doors as much as I do (a perfect Advent image, I think), click on Manja’s gallery from Italy and Slovenia. So many delights. And I’m still in my pajamas.
December 11: Prompted last year by the pandemic and reprised this year simply for joy, my church offered a living Nativity, with our young people presenting the Christmas story. Accompanied by recordings, children gathered around prophets and decrees, trembled “sore afraid” before hosts of angels, and of course clustered at the stable to honor and rejoice. My favorite vignette — indeed, my favorite Christmas story — was Gabriel’s visit to Mary, where a teen angel narrated the Annunciation in American Sign Language. Her dancing hands and swaying body conveyed invitation and promise. And she smiled gently at me as tears twinkled in my eyes.
December 12: We gathered at Kathy’s as we do each year for Christmas cheer and a “Yankee Swap” of inexpensive, pleasing gifts. (I scored a fragrant candle encouraging me to live, laugh and not take myself quite so seriously.)
This year, though, Kathy waved us grandly into the darkness to enjoy festivities she — wink, wink — planned just for us. In the deep still cold (and Kathy’s coats, which we borrowed) we walked through her neighborhood enjoying the colorful lights and curb-lining luminaria. And then, right on cue, a highly decorated fire truck booming Christmas songs passed by with Santa Claus enthroned on high. He passed us twice. Each time, we waved and hollared. And then we happily returned to sip our wine before Kathy’s warming fireplace.
December 13: I’m still chuckling about my Saturday night adventure. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington promised tap dancing elves. They delivered the elves, along with muscular lightly clad snowflakes. They also presented a frantic hilarious Twelve Days of Christmas and a lugubrious Jingle Bells set unexpectedly to Fur Elise (seriously, try it.) The masked voices were strong and alternately comic and sincere, even when a Christmas tree rotated to become a wigged and bejeweled drag queen. Dancers and singers alike wished us a “very gay Christmas.” I certainly left happy!
December 14: In lieu of a December meeting, our book club crossed the river for an afternoon at Hillwood Museum. (Yes, my idea: why not visit twice in two weeks?!) Mary entered with a walking stick unlike any I’d seen before. “Did you make it?” we asked. Yes, she said. “The bamboo is from my backyard and the rubber tip was $.49 at the hardware store.” And Mary had popped a small bouquet of faux flowers into the hollow at the top. Adjusting her lovely matching scarf, she said, “I get so many smiles when I use it. I call it my Joy Stick.”
December 15: I always admire the Fabergé eggs, jewels and porcelain at Hillwood. But today, thanks to an excellent docent, I continue to think about Hillwood’s creator, Marjorie Merriweather Post. Born in 1887 as the only child of industrialist C.W. Post, Marjorie Merriweather Post became, at the age of 27, the owner of her father’s business.
Her father had groomed Post to step into his shoes, and starting in 1914 she strode into the future with insight and fearlessness. In particular, Post expanded her father’s company to become General Foods, and she introduced to overworked women such labor-saving products as Maxwell House coffee, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Jello and — her proudest achievement — Birdseye frozen foods. I would have gladly accepted an invitation to sip from her Romanov-family glassware and to eat from her Sèvres porcelain. But mostly, I think, I would have wanted to hear her stories and her wisdom for girls today.
December 16: Sunshine and temperature in the 60s called me to the beach. I wasn’t the only one in a rollicking mood. No wave before me was more than 24 inches high (most were just 12). Yet they curled and splashed like their grown-up Hawaiian sisters.
Unlike those muscular Hawaiian beauties, though, these Assateague waves rolled onto the beach in busy families: babies reached for my toes in a foamy glaze; a wave like a two-year old toddled behind it, standing and then falling down; next came slightly bigger youngsters, erratic and wild and tumbling comically toward me. These were followed at last by teenagers and young adults: shapely, organized waves, just small. Again and again, these “family members” crested across the surface at the same time, making a washboard of the surf and a family portrait I could try to capture only in words.
Bonus: As I type this, I watch a nearly full moon rise above streaks of sunset-salmon and beyond the reach of bare trees. The fleeting periwinkle sky welcomes us both.
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