Counting down to Christmas

Yes, I’m still alive and kicking, winding down the countdown to Christmas. It’s cold and cloudy outside–they’re even saying the Hill Country might see a few snowflakes Christmas Eve. I have a fire going in the fireplace, and my holiday chores are mostly done. We’re finished with all the Christmas parties for hubby’s work–he received a temporary promotion since his boss is going out of town for extended training, hence we had to meet all the social obligations of the upcoming position. For the substation get together we smoked three different kinds of sausage, added four types of cubed cheeses, two types of Triscuit, and others brought a bunch of additional goodies to go with it. I made 8 dozen different cookies last week for the guys and gals, so their gingerbread and chocolate wishes were fulfilled. Necessary presents have been bought, wrapped and are nesting under the tree, save for two stragglers that I’ll wrap this evening.

The menu for Christmas Day is coming together. I have one ripe pumpkin in the garden along with three that are halfway there. The ripe one is big enough to make a nice batch of pumpkin bread pudding, and I made sure to pick up some vanilla beans to make the vanilla cream sauce. I purchased an 11 pound hickory smoked spiral sliced ham from the grocery store to go along with a homemade Vermont maple syrup/honey glaze. Normally I pick up a ham from the Honeybaked Ham Company, but the last two years the hams we have gotten from there have been SALTY…and that’s coming from someone who loves salt. If I’m paying premium price, I want a premium product. Extra salt is NOT a premium product, so this year I’m doing the ham myself. The little one voted for cranberry sauce, black and green olives to be on the menu, along with a green bean casserole. I picked up some pearl onions, snow peas, sweet potatoes and the ingredients for homemade macaroni and cheese, along with a Tuscan Olive dip to add to the list. Sister-in-law will bring fruit salad, crescent rolls and drinks.

Hubby’s working on a project for me. For Christmas he had some old home movies converted from tape to DVD, and he’s pulling portions of the DVDs to make a separate recording for Mom and Dad as well as Fred’s brother. They don’t have any videos of Fred, and I had recorded Christmas of ’96, which was the last Christmas before his diagnosis. While the camera is mostly focused on Andrew, all the conversations came through loud and clear. I went back and forth for quite a while wondering if this would be a good present for them, but looking on it if I had lost a child, even if they were an adult, I would love to have any video of them, whatever it was. After asking several people their opinion, the overall consensus was that it was a good present. And since Hubby and I had already gone through the “loves of life past” conversation not too long ago, I didn’t feel awkward asking him to do this for me. If we hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable asking him, but things obviously happen for a reason. The past is the past, regardless of how important to each of us it was. We’re where we’re supposed to be right now, and that’s all that matters.

I talked to my great-aunt last night on the phone, and she’s as feisty as ever. It took her 9 months to recover from a medical catastrophe that 97 percent of people die from–considering she’s going to be 87 years old, that’s pretty darned remarkable. She’s back to knitting and her other hobbies, and her close circle of friends and family are extremely thankful to have her around for another Christmas. To be able to tell her one more time I love her was a very special present for me.

As the holidays wind down, I hope each and every one of you take a moment to look around and be thankful for all the blessings that surround you. Gather your loved ones close and give them a hug, letting them know how much you love them. It’s the little things that really are important–don’t lose sight of them in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Merry Christmas everyone, and here’s wishing everyone a beautiful and blessed 2012.

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