but it was crowded with folks piling their carts high with goodies for the feast. I also dropped in to Publix for some dessert goodies for tomorrow, and started next year's shopping at Michael's."...[t]here were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers" benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner..."
I had hardly arrived home and done laundry and vacuuming and other minimal chores when I realized I did not have enough salad dressing for the salad we were bringing to dinner tomorrow, so I nipped out to Food Depotnot as crowded as I fearedand found it, surprisingly, first try!
Then I was finally ready to sit down, with Schuyler's cage next to me, to her surprise and wonder, and I had lunchyummy salad greens, milk, a bit of the demi baguette I bought myself as a treat, and pistachio nutsand we watched The Homecoming: A Christmas Story and the 1980, 1981 (two shows), and 1982 Ask the Manager Christmas shows, from Joe receiving his spotted tie as a gift to Dan telling Dana about the "Christkindl" custom at his house for the first time. Oh, yeah, and the eggnog and Joe intoning "Rudy Cheeks, Rudy Cheeks, Rudy Rudy Cheeks." Always shed a tear now at the end of the 1980 show when the cast and crew do their "Merry Christmas" and the late Cliff Allen appears.
Oh, also got a nice late surprise in the mail: the copy of The Victorian Christmas Book that I had bought from Amazon Marketplace arrived. The Country Diary Christmas Book uses so many quotes from this book that I couldn't resist ordering it: it was 30 cents, an ex-library book, but quite intact and with an excellent cover.
By then it was time to load Christmas gifts in a Xerox box, get Schuyler back to her perch on the bookcase and clean up, and take Willow outside. To our surprise, we met James at the doorthey let him out fifteen whole minutes early! Soon we were in the truck and heading to the Boulers for Christmas Eve dinner. We went the long way, through Dunleith, the neighborhood next to our old one, but they did not do luminarias for Christmas Eve this year; I don't know if they have quit or did them over the weekend.
We had a grand time at the Boulers, with the Spiveys, the Elders and the Boroses, plus Keithnoshed our way through turkey, ham, beef roast, some veggies, dessert, then did presents before the fire. Keith, as always, gives the most unique gifts: this year we received a bird feeder, a bag of birdseed, and a guide to wild birds of North America. The Boulers' dogs watched us enviously from the upstairs balcony: G'Kar, the Jack Russell, shoved himself between the banisters to stare at us.
We came home via a roundabout route to check out more lights. When we got home, I was still in gift mode, so we opened our gifts under the tree. I had bought James a new copy of Top Gun (he only had the videotape), two books about the space program and one about World War II fliers, a DVD set of WWII videos, and a 4GB jump drive. I received the book of The War, London Then and Now, a bag for my new camera, and some Japanese Cherry Blossom cologne from Bath and Body Works. We also received some cute gifts from Emma, who bought me a cute pig Webkinz. I think I will name her "Peggy" after Mike's guinea pig (I know, not the same species, but both cute!). Miss Schuyler got a nice big piece of millet from Santa, and Willow got beef and cheese treats (which she has been staring at since last night).
We then sat and relaxed and listened to Christmas music and then the Midnight Mass from the Vatican, which lasted over an hour tonight.
This morning, therefore, we slept in, despite the pinpoint power failure at 8 a.m. which turned James' C-PAP on and off again. Willow finally started to bark, at which we discovered Santa had sent Atlanta a Christmas gift: it was raining! It rained steadily for nearly two hours, then cleared, but it looks as if another bank of rain is headed this way. I'd rather have snow, but we need the rain.
While I went out searching for a newspaper, James made French toast out of the last of the challah loaf we bought last weekend. (Last year we had hit six places Christmas Day and never found a newspaper. One place even told me they didn't print a newspaper on Christmas. Nonsense! Large Metro area newspapers are like hospitals; they never take holidays.) I was successful in one try and we ate breakfastluscious French toast made with Splenda and topped with the lovely Grade B super-maply syrup my cousin Donna bought us two years agoand read the paper along to the end of the Walt Disney World parade and then Christmas at St. Olaf's.
Anyway, it's about time for me to go wash the salad...Merry Christmas to all, and Buon Natale, too!
[Later: I should say we had a great time at the Butlers, but that would be redundantwe always have a great Christmas dinner there, and the company is always delightful.]