Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, a bit after 10:00, and I find myself engaged in my usual Christmas Eve ritual. I am the last one up (even Bob's in bed; he usually waits for the last one to slip under the covers before he flops down with a grunt on the old sleeping bag he uses for a bed and quickly starts snoring.)

Sue's on call, and wanted to get some sleep in case she has to get up in the middle of the night. The apartment is lit by the tree and some strands of Christmas lights we have strung about: over the kitchen window, across the front windows, and on the Japanese screen in the living room. My feet are propped up on a coffee table, and there's a glass of port next to them. A Christmas sugar cookie, just baked and half-eaten, lays next to me on the couch.

After all the craziness of what my buddy, Baxter, calls the Christian shopping season, it always turns into just about the most quiet night of the year, doesn't it? All I hear is the wind roaring outside, sounding just like the Red Line down the hill, and making me once again feel so appreciative of this apartment that is so safe and strong.

It's still pretty early. In other times it would be long past midnight and I'd be sitting next to a dying fire. Al was always a tough one to keep in bed on Christmas Eve, the excitement wiring her and bouncing her out of bed with every excuse in the book: she had to go to the bathroom, she was sleepy, she heard reindeer. You always had to be good and sure she was asleep before you could start filling stocking to make sure you wouldn't be accosted by a little Cindy Lou Who. Here we have a fireplace but it's gas, and Sue and I are so cheap we don't ever use it, feeling it's a waste of expensive fuel. The Native American Christmas stockings we bought in Arizona are hung there. Just this morning we were awaken by the doorbell, rung by the FedEx man who delivered the brass hooks from to hang them. With that, the last of the Christmas decoration was complete.

Tonight we had a simple dinner of stuffed shells Sue prepared last night. My old boss called and left voice mail, wishing me a merry Christmas, and to say he was thinking of me. I thought that was such a nice gesture.

We--well, I--made Christmas cookies. I've never made Christmas cookies in my life, but this really was Sue's first real Christmas in a long time, and she kept coming up with things she wanted to do, and baking cookies was one of them. Who could say, no? There are now three plates of Christmas cookies on the kitchen counter, and I'm not sure what we're going to do with them now. They're like the zucchini in the summer; who can use that many squash or cookies?

And tomorrow, if Sue isn't out on a case, we'll get up and have coffee and open our presents and then have pancakes, apple-cured bacon, and beer. Or I will. Sue's on duty, and can't drink. But I love a glass of beer for breakfast with a big stack of pancakes. You don't believe me? Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. And later, good buddy, John, will come by with what he said are a couple of pounds of fresh Cape Cod scallops, and the girls will arrive around 2:00 and there's a seven-plus-pound chicken marinating in soy sauce and honey and garlic right now in the 'fridge that will be stuffed with Chinese sausage and chestnuts and sticky rice. Some people have asked me how I'm doing being laid off. I try not to think about it, wanting to enjoy these holidays. I tend to take things one day at a time, and face what comes. And if it's something nice, like Christmas, well, I guess that's my good fortune, isn't it?

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