With our celebration with Bri already over, we had a very quiet, simple and lovely Christmas. It started with a family breakfast. Jeri helped finish cooking Joe's "green eggs and ham" while Walt fried last night's mashed potatoes.
We all gathered around the breakfast for a leisurely breakfast--even Dexter.
Everybody else went to Mass at the Santa Barbara Mission. I opted to stay at home and take a nap, which I sorely needed, since I'd been awake much of the night before, coughing. It was a good decision!
Around 4, after Jeri, Walt and Joe had gone on a walk, we went over to Maravilla to spend Christmas with Walt's mother. In retrospect, it was like spending Christmas in Whoville after the Grinch has made off with all the goodies, when all the townspeople discover that the true meaning of Christmas doesn't come with expensive gifts.
We had about an hour to visit with Alice before going to the dining room for dinner. Then Alice Nan got some lipstick on her, Jeri brushed her hair, we got her in the wheelchair and headed for dinner.
There were so many of us, they gave us the private room that we have always referred to as the "mafia room" because it's usually occupied by a group of women who look like Mafia wives. But tonight it was all ours.
It was a four-course extravaganza which started with "coconut crusted shrimp satay with mango salsa," followed by (for me) lobster bisque, Chateaubriand with pepper sauce...
...and ending with something called "Dark Chocolate Ecstasy Cake."
We went back to Alice's apartment and shared gifts. With the economy in the shape it is and how it has affected everyone, there were no flashy gifts. Instead everyone had used his or her imagination to give something inexpensive, but meaningful. Jeri had chosen wonderful cards for everyone, including one that played a Christmas song when you opened it, perfect for a grandmother who can't see.
Alice Nan had bought a taste of Santa Barbara, getting local food items--salad dressing, wine, cookies, and a jam that looked suspiciously not from Santa Barbara. For her mother there was a little plate with a simple design on it to use when she eats her afternoon cheese.
The fun was in the opening and discovering how the giver had chosen to handle a low cost gift. The fun was in the giving, the opening, and the laughter that accompanied it.
Old, familiar family stories were repeated and laughed about. I revealed a hitherto hidden talent nobody knew I had -- I'm pretty good at identifying what's inside the chocolate covering on a Sees candy, a skill Jeri is very indignant I have been hiding all these years (passing along such knowledge could have saved her from biting into not one but TWO coconut candies she thought were something else).
To prove my skill, I successfully identified a Sees candy with a chocolate filling for Norm. Everyone was very impressed.
I thought that surely there must be an iPhone app for identifying candies by the designs on the top of each type, but this appears not to be the case...if anybody ever develops one, let me know!
We spent an hour or so just sitting in the tiny room talking, laughing, and having a good time...and proving that holidays are about getting together with people you love and enjoying their company. That is enough "gift" for anyone.
Jeri and I left to come home and feed Dexter. Walt, his brother and sister waited until the attendant has gotten their mother ready for bed, then they sat with her, said some prayers together, talked about what a nice afternoon it had been, and told her good night.
This has been a very nice Christmas, both nights.