Friday, December 28, 2007

May your spirits be bright

Whew! The mad rush. The tearing about. Wrapping. Cooking. Rearranging furniture. Shopping. Decorating the table. Dish washing. Putting away and Tearing apart are over. And with them, Christmas is officially put to bed.

Okay. So my house still looks topsy-turvy. The living room furniture is in the dining room. The round glass table from the dining room is out on the back porch. My easel also sits on the porch along with bags of garbage, empty bottles and sundry other things. The Christmas tree is back in the living room after having spent a two day sojourn in the dining room that is still the living room. The tree had to move to make room for the tables that would seat the 15 people who arrived for Christmas Day dinner and then the 19 people for Boxing Day dinner.

All has not returned to normal, but that's okay. It's still the holiday season! The kitchen is filled with the aroma of turkey soup that C.C. concocted yesterday. There are still glasses and dishes on the living room table waiting to be put away. And I'm in no rush. Christmas may have gone to bed, but I'm still savouring the sights and sounds and laughter of the event.

No matter how rushed, how hurried or busy Christmas may be, it is the laughter and love that permeates the air that I savour the longest.

This year, the sensations of Christmas were enriched by the presence of the men in our lives -- mine and my daughters. J.W. and Alexis have now been dating for three years and his presence was a welcome face around the Christmas table. His parents were here too, for the second year, a tradition of sorts in the making. Liseanne's beau, E.S. was here for the first year -- but not until Boxing Day. What a joy to watch the four 'youngsters' laugh and play cards and chatter about what not. They've become as Alexis likes to say, one of her greatest wishes come true -- I always dreamt of double-dating with my sister and her boyfriend, she said. And now it's come true.

Christmas. A time for wishes to come true. For memories to be made. For traditions to be carried forward.

C.C. was the newest addition this year and his presence was a welcome gift. Like E.S., Liseanne's boyfriend, C.C. is a sports fanatic and the two of them had a great time catching the odd game on TV, talking about scores and players and who moved where instead of there to cause the score to go down or up or nowhere. In between helping out in the kitchen that is! What a gift to have a man who pitches in without needing direction. He chopped and diced. Sliced and minced. He filled guests glasses and carried dishes to the table. Gotta love a man who knows his way around the kitchen!

We were three generations at the table. My sister escorted my mother to the party where her quiet charm was a welcome presence, though every year her size seems to diminish in relation to her place setting at the head of the table, she is always a presence to contend with. My bestest family came too. AJ and JD. along with their two adult children who are the same ages as my daughters turned up both days laden with food and gifts and wine and their amazing spirits.

On Boxing Day, AJ gave us another installment of his (now famous) radio show, Tales of Louise. Dressed in a wig, an old imitation fur coat and long black silk gloves, he does an admirable impression of yours truly organizing my daughters, dogs, and house and any one else who crosses my path. Though I don't believe I'm really as saccharine as he makes out! -- or as ditsy! His performance is a highlight of the Boxing Day festivities, though C.C. almost stole the spotlight when he appeared as the Las Vegas singing sensation, Charletta!

For my daughters and their friend CJ, it is a Boxing Day tradition to con one man into drag so that he will perform Santa Baby, a la Marilyn. To the racuous laughter and guffaws of the crowd, the poor victim, oops I mean couragous man, trips into the living room red lips pursed, buxom body teetering dizzily on high heel shoes and mimes the song -- it's quite the show! C.C.'s son, TC, almost split his sides laughing at this side of his father he's never seen.

And once the laughter had died down, TC picked up his guitar and enchanted everyone with his amazing talent. Boxing Day nor Christmas Day nor any day for that matter, would not be complete without Alexis singing -- and this year her sister introduced a new magic act that had us howling with laughter! Though I did miss Liseanne's land-based synchronized swimming routine -- I need a partner for it to be synchronized, she reminded me -- and no one would take her up on her special offer to teach them dry land swimming!

Me. I was simply in awe of the whole event. In particular, I was in aw that this man who has captured my heart would willingly undergo my daughters and CJs ministrations, manipulations and applications of make-up, lipstick and mascara! After three years of Santa Baby's appearance, the tradition was threatened with abandonment as no man had stepped forward to participate. Boxing Day would not have been complete without C.C.s good sportsmanship! Though he did spend an inordinate amount of time yesterday going through the cameras lying around, searching for evidence. Fortunately, J.W. was the only one who wasn't blinded by laughter and had his wits about him enough to take pics -- and his camera had gone home with him before C.C. could delete any photos of Charletta.

And now, it's time for a rest. Yesterday, was a quieter day, though C.C., Liseanne and her boyfriend and I did manage to go out for a late brunch and later, I grabbed a coffee with an old friend from out of town, and a dinner with another longtime friend. while I was out, C.C. made turkey soup, set up the TV in the dining room that is currently the living room and settled in on one love seat for an evening of hockey with Liseanne's boyfriend sprawled across from him on the love seat on the other side of the coffee table. There was a dog with each of them, cookies and other Christmas treats on the coffee table -- what could be more perfect?

This morning, the garbage awaits portaging to the front drive, the dishes await nestling back into the cabinet, the table decorations sit awaiting their return to the boxes from whence they came though my glue gun has already been returned to the craft box -- it is a staple of my Christmas preparations! My serviette rings would not be complete without its assistance!

The busy-ness and festivities may be over, but the sound of laughter still resonates throughout the house. The air is still permeated with the love that filled each room. It continues to live on in each of our hearts. It will brighten the cold days of winter yet to come.

Listening to my brother-in-law at the front door as he wished one of our Christmas dinner guests good bye, my heart was warmed with the realization that over the past three years in this tiny house on 15th Street we have created a tradition we cherish more than the giving and receiving of gifts, more than the table groaning with food. It is the gift of friendship. In J.T.'s words of farewell lived the spirit of the season. "I look forward to seeing you at the table again next year," he said to a departing guest. "As long as I'm invited, I'll be here," the guest replied.

A tradition. An invitation to be anticipated. A memory of good friends, laughter, love and joy to carry with us throughout the year. May your spirits be bright, your hearts be light and your world be filled with laughter, love and joy.

The question is: What's filling your heart today? What memories will you cherish throughout the cold days of winter to come?

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