Betty and I had our usual Wednesday night supper tonight, though I said I had to be home early—we always go early so that was no big deal. But even before I got home, Jacob was emailing to ask, “Are you almost home?” You see, since I will be out of town over Christmas, we had our Burton/Alter gift exchange tonight. Jacob was a bit anxious—you’d think the child didn’t know what he was getting, but he did. He picked out his Nike shirt and pants, even knew where they were in the cottage. After I wrapped them, he went to look one night and asked, “Where did you move them?” But after tonight, he is free to wear them.
I think, though, Jacob has gotten to the age where he’s as excited about the gifts to others as he is about what he’s getting. So we exchanged—a tracker for Christian to help him keep track of things like keys, a book that I got him for his birthday and he lost—now he can finish it. For Jordan, Hoka athletic shoes and my cookbook, plus a Penguin server. Anybody remember those? A vintage server all the rage in the fifties or sixties—keeps things hot or cold forever. My mom had one, and I was delighted to find a wide array of them on Etsy.
And for me, a cool navy-and-white pants and sweater outfit, wooden cooking spoons, and a puzzle that Jacob and I can do together.
When I took a picture for posterity, Sophie ran to get up on the couch—sweet thing wanted to be in the picture. Jordan eventually took one of Sophie and the Christmas tree. I am still so delighted with the cozy festive atmosphere in my cottage.
This morning two aspects of my life vied for dominance. I spent the whole time reading through research materials on the Alamo or making a cheeseball. I’m here to tell you it’s not easy to go back and forth between the two. I long ago learned that the only way to make my family cheeseball recipe is to dig in and mix it by hand—a processor makes it too runny, and a mixer just doesn’t do the job. Lots of hand-washing involved. But I got it made and split into two—Jordan will take one to the Burton family Christmas and I will take the other to Tomball and Colin and his family.
This is what the Alter clan calls an “off year”—the children all go to their other families. Bless Lisa, because she’s so sweet and welcoming when Colin wants his mom with him and that’s where I go on these off years. This year, we’ll celebrate at her parents’ house because of her father’s health—easier than having them come from Sugar Land to Tomball. Colin says he likes being the one who “gets” me on off years. He’ll drive up Sunday, pick me up, and we’ll go to Houston by way of Frisco—a roundabout journey.
I’m a creature of habit. Probably my favorite day is one like today when I can get up at my own speed, do morning chores like breakfast and dishes and shampoo by my own schedule, spend the day at my computer and end with dinner with a dear friend. But Christmas is a time to break your routine, crawl out of your schedule—and I’m looking forward to a change in my days, to spending time with Morgan and Kegan, the Tomball grandchildren, to reading some mysteries, to talking with my firstborn about weighty matters like politics and religion—we have great discussions because we sort of agree, sort of don’t.
Does it sound too fifty-ish to say, “Cool Yule”?