Ever since James has been able to telework, he's been volunteering to work Christmas. In past years he has gotten holiday pay, but with the reorganization, that isn't happening anymore. So with the mandate from right before Thanksgiving still in place—with him only working 24 hours a week—it was essential that he work anyway to assure three days' pay.
So we were in bed early Christmas Eve, and James was at his desk promptly at eight. He had no calls, not even a person who had called the wrong number and was looking for support for his new Lenovo laptop, which would have been transferred because James works with blade servers. We basked in the Christmas lights, listened to Christmas music, I watched The House Without a Christmas Tree, and a little after noon, started cooking a turkey.
Now previously when he's teleworked at Christmas, James had ended work at five, we would have already been dressed, and we would have headed to the Butlers for Christmas dinner. But Lin had been in the hospital over Thanksgiving, so Pat and Alex volunteered to do Christmas dinner instead. They live in Lawrenceville, nearly an hour's drive away. By the time we had gotten out of the house and there it would have been 6:30, enough time to gobble and run so James could be ready to work the next day. What use was going all that way to have to stuff your face quickly and not get to spend any time relaxing and chatting.
So we had already planned our dinner: we would buy turkey thighs, have them with potatoes. I found a package of huge thighs that would provide us with Christmas dinner and even enough leftovers to make a sandwich or two later on. This changed when we took a trip to Sam's Club and found an 11.5 pound turkey I dubbed "Clifton" (after Clifton Road where CDC headquarters is located). Okay, so James would monitor the phones and I would get my first turkey-cooking lesson.
Anyway, back up a few days. We went to Hair Day, and found out that Mel and Phyllis were not going to Christmas dinner either; they are in their 70s and driving that far in the dark was daunting. Mel was wondering if we wanted to go out somewhere to eat with them on Christmas evening. So impulsively I invited them to Christmas dinner and we changed the time to evening.
Yes, we had our Jewish friends over for Christmas.
It was very informal. We completely forgot to cook the carrots we added to the menu. I started the turkey early because even being in the refrigerator for three days it was still frozen. I started it uncovered and had to tent the wings after just an hour and the breast after two hours. It was basted and rebasted in wine. However, the oven came through again and the bird was thoroughly cooked and ready by the time our guests arrived. We ate on paper plates and had Christmas music on softly in the background, and were talking about the old days when we were in school. Tucker mooched food, and Snowy sang happily in the background.
After they left James put up the rest of the carcass and only then did we exchange gifts. Because money was short this year we only bought one thing for each other, and knew what we were getting. I bought James an organizer for his modeling desk. It's specially made for modelers and has a ruled workspace and places to put paintbrushes and other accessories. He gave me a Cricut lightbox (which, thankfully, was on sale at Michael's on Black Friday). I've been wanting a lightbox for some time now.
And so we wandered off to bed at the usual time, full of Christmas and friendship and lots of turkey.