The snow from the week before, still covered the ground of my home in the central Virginia Piedmont. It was Christmas day, and I had to drive into Richmond to exchange gifts with my family, and join them for Christmas dinner at my brother-in-law's house. Unlike the frozen flakes that came drifting gently down the previous weekend, it was pouring down rain, and turning our blanket of snow into a gigantic grayish white Slurpee. (For those who are wondering, a Slurpee is a sweet, slushy, semi-frozen drink, sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores). Fortunately the temperature was in the 40+° F range, so icy roads were not a problem.
When I arrived at my brother-in-law's house, everyone was there. D had invited his mother and brother up from Nags Head, N.C. , and another couple and their daughter, who he and my sister had been friends with since their two daughters went to elementary school together in the early nineties. And of course D's daughter, my mother, my older sister and her daughter were there as well. I gave gift certificates from Barnes & Noble Bookstore to my mother and brother-in-law, and checks to my sister and two nieces. They always prefer cash, and that's fine with me. That way, they always get what they want, and I always get a sincere hug and thank you, instead of a shrug, and an "oh......that's nice."
My sister handed me a bag from under the tree, that contained several things. The first thing I pulled out, was the pudgy little fella in the picture above. He's a Marzipan Pig from Germany. We used to get them every Christmas, when we were kids living in Bremerhaven and Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Marzipan, a confection of ground almonds, sugar and egg whites is delicious, but this little pig is just too cute to eat! I think I'm going to give him a home in the china cabinet.
My sister's daughter put together this little goody basket for me, complete with a scented candle, a coffee mug, a giant Hershey's chocolate kiss, a smothering of little chocolate kisses, a Happy Birthday Jesus balloon, and a bunch of toys to keep the kid in me alive, including a nifty little squirt gun. I love it! Some poor unfortunate soul is going to get it right between the eyes!
My older sister shares my irreverent sense of humor, and she got me this copy of The Book Of Genesis, illustrated by R. Crumb, of Zap Comics fame. It purports to be The first book of the bible, graphically depicted, with nothing left out! Adult supervision recommended for minors. I don't know if you are familiar with R. Crumb or not, but he is an absolutely wonderful artist. He has a wonderful off beat sense of humor, and for a cartoonist, his artwork is just filled with little details.
After a lovely glass of eggnog, spiked with two fingers of Wild Turkey bourbon, we retired to the dining room, where a Christmas dinner of roast turkey, baked ham, regular and oyster stuffing, tender young asparagus sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, and cranberry and orange peel dressing was laid out buffet style, on the built-in counter under the large window looking out into the back yard. It was just two months earlier, that my twin sister breathed her last breath in that very room. My brother-in-law had removed all of the dining room furniture, and had a hospital bed installed, so that my sister could have a convenient bedroom on the first floor of their house. Yesterday however, there was no trace of the sadness that hung over that room like pall, just two months ago. It had been restored to its former holiday splendor, complete with red brocade table cloth, holly patterned Christmas china, red linen holiday napkins, silver and crystal ware, and silver candlesticks. As I had hoped, everyone focused on what we had now, rather than what we has lost, and the dinner was enjoyed by all. After we were all stuffed, out came the pumpkin pie, chocolate coconut cake, and fudge brownies. I had a slice of pie and a brownie, but after the large plateful of turkey, ham and all the fixings, that was about all I could handle, so I passed on the cake.
It was a lovely gathering. D's house is a beautiful century old dwelling, in one of Richmond's oldest and most elegant neighborhoods. He had a lovely nine foot spruce Christmas tree, that was beautifully decorated with ornaments, that he and my sister had collected over the years. A warm fire was burning in the gas log fireplace, that looked so real, you would have sworn it was a natural log fire. It even had glowing embers below the real looking artificial logs. It's a great place to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we love going there, but soon it was time to leave, and my sister asked me to come out to her car with her. She opened up her trunk, and fished out another present, and handed it to me. She had told me in an email a day or two before, that she had a present for Melissa. I was in boy mode at the time, because only she and my niece know about me, so she had to give it to me privately. I hugged her and told her that I loved her, and then headed for home. The 45 mile ride home on the Interstate highway, was through a pea soup of thick fog and pouring rain. Visibility was down at times to less than one or two hundred feet. It was the fist time since I had owned my new truck, that I had to use the fog lights. Fortunately the traffic was very light, and I made it home safely in about an hour.
When I got home I couldn't wait to see what my present was. There was a card attached to the box, and I read it first. It said, "Melissa - Thought this might look pretty with your black coat. Love, R-----" My black coat? Obviously, sis has been reading my blog. ;-) It was the velour teal scarf, with matching silky floral like appliqués, pictured above. Unfortunately the lighting in this room is not showing its true teal color, or its gorgeous detail. Even still, don't you think it's just so pretty? I certainly do! What a sweet thing for her to do for me! I just love her! It's hard to believe that this is the same sister, who chased me through the house with a butcher knife, when I was eleven years old. Fearing for my life, I ran into the upstairs bathroom, and just in time, slammed the door shut and locked it. Panting heavily, I stood on one side of the door, while my knife wielding sister stood on the other side, scraping the tip of her blade menacingly against the door! Only siblings can get away with such insanity, and still end up adoring each other!