Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Comes and Life Resumes.

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 appliqu├ęs, 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!

Melissa XX


Leslie Ann said...

What a sweet tale, Melissa! You look quite happy in your pic. Wish we could see the tealness of your scarf.

You didn't mention any meat-less loaf in the buffet. Ran out of tofu?

Melissa said...

Meatless loaf? Sorry Leslie, but we're carnivores. Tofu is a banned substance in this family! LOL!

Melissa XX

Lucy Melford said...

Melissa, get a tripod, put your on it using the 10-second self-timer setting, and take a few full-length pictures of yourself against a selection of nice backgrounds in or out of your home. A real fashion shoot, so that we can see your outfits properly, in natural light too.

Maybe next Christmas you can be (like Sophie may be) fully 'out' and able to enjoy the whole thing in Melissa mode. Work for it.

I recall Robert Crumb. Would I be right in thinking he did the artwork in the naughty cartoon film 'Fritz the Cat' back in the 1970s? (I could look this up instantly on Wikipedia, and show off my 'knowledge' but I don't cheat, and I may of course be wrong!)

Happy New Year.


Melissa said...

@ Lucy

Yes, Fritz The Cat was one of his creations. I love his art work. He pays great attention to detail, and gives his cartoons a 3 dimensional quality, like the old cartoon artist of the 30's & 40's did, before TV cheapened the art form with flat dull 2 dimensional stuff.

Melissa XX

caroline said...

I have not seen "Fritz the Cat" since it came out in the early 70's. It was certainly based on crumbs cat and was unlike any animation before and for a long time after. I adopted Fritz's dancing style since it only involved the movement of fingers!

Sounds like a nice family christmas but "you" could certainly liven it up a bit next year.

Caroline XX

Anonymous said...

Your sister sounds wonderful, and you do look wonderful in the photo.
What an amazing story about her chasing you with the knife.!
I wasent sure if I should laugh or be horrified!
Your right siblings do have a love hate relationship at times, but it does seem to be very sisterly like now!

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

@ Caroline

"Me? What would you suggest? Fishnets and a miniskirt? My sister and niece might laugh (along with me), but everyone else would be horrified! LOL

Melissa XXOO

Melissa said...

Your sister sounds wonderful, and you do look wonderful in the photo.
What an amazing story about her chasing you with the knife.!
I wasent sure if I should laugh or be horrified!
Your right siblings do have a love hate relationship at times, but it does seem to be very sisterly like now!


My sister is wonderful! I love her so much, and always have! I love her and my niece, more than anyone else in my family! As kids, we fought with each other like most siblings do, but when push came to shove, I could always count on my older sister to stand up for me. She has no idea how much that endeared her to me!

Melissa XX

Naukishtae said...

You are truly blessed..

Keri Renault said...

Now THAT's holiday story worth sharing! There is little more life affirming than the love of family. How touching that your sister accepts you for the totality of who you are. Cute scarf, too!

Please, let's keep the Marzipan quiet:) It's one of Sunny's special delights. She grew up on the delicious German confection at home in Bavaria. To this day it's one of her favorite things when we visit family back home in Deutchland. Thank you for sharing your inspiring Christmas gathering with family. Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa
I love the idea of oyster stuffing, we don't have that here but it sounds wonderful.

Your sister sounds like someone I would love as she reminded me of my own sibling Brother. We had a fight once as small boys and he chased me with a metal 'tonka' truck half his own body size and as I ran down the stairs to get away taking three stairs at a time he hurled the truck down after me. It crashed down the stairs after me bouncing and spinning faster than I could run, (like something out raiders of the lost ark when Harrison Ford was trying to out run that huge boulder?) it ricoched off a step just behind me and hit the wall by my arm and gauged out a huge clump of plaster as truck, boy and plaster all hit the bottom of the staircase at the same time in a plume of white dust! I have never forgotten that day, If that truck had hit me I'm not sure I would be here in one piece to laugh about it with my Brother now.

Its great your Sister is so close to you now. I had visions of 'the shining' when you described her knife scraping.

Hope you have a great New year
Helen x

Calie said...

OK, girlfriend, you did it to me again. The story about your sis's present brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely story and something to remember the rest of your life.

I'm glad you had a great Christmas, sweetie.

Calie xxx