Another Day in the Country

A real Christmas letter

© Another Day in the Country

Dear Gary and Norma: Yes, you are receiving a real letter. Do people do this anymore? In this digital age we’ve come upon, this year I’m even hankering for Christmas newsletters. Nothing worse than just a signed card, although the thought counts. I’m hungry for news, not just a signature saying that you’re still alive.

Jess and I just returned from our Christmas jaunt to Santa Fe. New Mexico was a completely different experience, winter vs. summer. We even had snow a couple of times, which made the farolitos (illuminated paper bags) even more spectacular. Being in the “big city” meant it was show time. We went to a grand choral performance in one of the oldest cathedrals — perfect Christmas fare. We took in a spectacular Chinese acrobatic show called Cirque Zia — amazingly wonderful.

We went to an event called “The Birth of Humanity” celebrating the solstice. We went with great expectations. It had everything from belly dancing to transcendental spinning, but Jess came away disappointed that the New Agers in Santa Fe weren’t more well organized. This was more a happening straight out of the 60s than a $20-a-ticket event. Maybe $5 a tickets would have been more appropriate. There were some interesting parts. Among other things, we were sung to, encouraged to dance along, and sprinkled with some kind of water out of an old fish bowl. Perhaps we were baptized or cleansed or something. After we discussed it thoroughly, we decided that the second act was probably true to the nature of this 2012 end-of-the-world thing as people on stage came through a cloth covered birth canal and wandered around rather at loose ends figuring out what came next. It was improv, after all.

Jess said, “We should have left at the break,” but I didn’t want to miss anything (sorta like real life) and came out of the theater to find several inches of new-fallen snow blanketing everything including the ice-covered hill we had to navigate to get out of the parking lot. New Age discussions, marveling at the belly dancing, and inadequate actors were all forgotten as we carefully slid our way back to the hotel and like all good travelers, we were thankful to be home again, safe and sound.

Back home in Ramona, a friend came for Christmas Eve and spent the night. After we opened gifts Christmas morning, we sat around playing games and laughing while Christmas dinner seemed to cook itself. I tried a new dressing recipe that included apples, cranberries, blueberries and a bunch of different nuts in the mix. Yummy! We had creamed peas — an extravagance for only important occasions due to the fat content. I made Orvelle’s Jell-O ribbon salad, which is so beautiful and there is still 90 percent left. (You can’t cut this recipe in half or it isn’t pretty and how long will it take two people to eat 6 packages of rainbow colored Jell-O? Probably sometime in 2013, I’m guessing.) It’s a kid’s delight and sadly we had no children at our Christmas table.

Dagfinnr called on Christmas Day telling me that he’d gotten the “spy stuff” we’d sent him. “It all works, Baba,” he said. “Even the night-vision goggles work — we went into a dark place and tried them out.” I tried to strike up a conversation but he wasn’t interested. He had things to report and then he’d be on to playing again. “Baba, something else,” he interjected, “I also got Matchbox spy cars — one for the good guys and one for the bad guys.” I was properly amazed and then he handed the phone to his Mom.

Jana sent an 8x10 picture of him for Christmas — it was his first school picture and looked like it had been taken by a professional photographer instead of those canned shots with a fake background that are usual school photos. That’s California for you, I guess. He looks so grown up in the picture and it’s hard to believe that I was just with them four months ago — time flies and children change so quickly. Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that his mother was starting kindergarten and worrying whether Santa was real or not? I shed a few tears to soothe the ache of not being with them this year.

Last night I had a dream about you guys. You were working at a school somewhere — weren’t you always? And we were attempting to go somewhere, getting all dressed up, laughing and talking up a storm. It was so good to see you again, and we were having so much fun that when I woke up, this morning, I wanted to snooze some more and just enjoy your company. You’ve been my best buds for such a long, long time and I’m so grateful for the blessing of your friendship.

Looking forward to hearing from you and sending love to you and yours on another day in the country. Happy New Year! Pat

Okay, so now you’ve gotten a Real Christmas Letter. The Marion Record was addressed to you, wasn’t it? I suppose I could have just written the greeting generically, “Dear Friends,” but that lacked the personal touch. Just insert your real name and read it out loud.

 

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