Christmas Day in Retrospect

Dear Liza,

Starting the day with cinnamon rolls….

It is now the day after Christmas and I am still full to the brim from the feasting and family. Our Christmas celebration started around 10 in the morning when the rest of the family woke up (Auntie Bridgett and I are early risers), and went until after 9 that night when tired Grandkids headed home.

Christy gets a Nicole Curcio bowl…

First there were cinnamon rolls and coffee, and presents for and from Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle. We were all pleased with the Hogwarts’ goodies, so perfect for us and our chilly winters here in Portland.

Grandpa in his new Slytherin scarf.

Auntie Katie and the Cousins came later, bringing more gifts and a delicious ad- libbed cream pie.

Music, as always.

Kyle, being the Dungeon Master of the day, had prepared a Dungeons and Dragons adventure for Jasper and Kestrel, and the three of them developed characters and played while the older folks chatted, ate and drank, and played music.

Jasper, Kes and Kyle working in character development

Katie and I were the only ones who wanted a walk, so we headed off to Laurelhurst. I wore my new Hogwarts scarf, and met a fellow Hufflepuff! Her name is May. She is a delight and I hope we see each other again. We also did some serious bird-watching, Katie sharing her Great Grandma Billie’s love of feathered friends.

Watching the Bullock’s Orioles in the park

Katie is always good company. She and I talked about my story and she gave me some good advice on how to make it better as I go forward.

I met May, a local Hufflepuff!

We got home and had dinner, which was, as always, a team effort and delicious.

Then came more presents! Harry Potter and Wonder Woman and weird little Hands for Handy Hand to hang out with. What a day!

Teeny tiny hands!
Cool swag from Cousin Kyle

Then there was more music, with harmonies and extra verses. As everyone’s energy level started to sag, no one wanted the day to end!

More harmony and strumming…

Kyle and Jasper played a video game on the sofa while the rest of us watched The Grinch (the original, with Boris Karloff’s voice) and the White Christmas, with which we sang along.

Thank goodness for HIGH ceilings!!

Finally, we had a game of Kozo, then Dreidle, and then we had to just own up that it was time to go to bed.

Winding down….

I am so blessed to have this life full of loving people, safety and abundance, ideas, music and surprise.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Canasta!

Dear Liza,

This Christmas, while Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle were visiting, we got to revive a holiday tradition from my family. We played Canasta!

Canasta is a card game that was very big at my parents’ house. I learned it as part of being the family, and any people serious about marrying into the family had to learn to play, as well. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Christy got really good!

Canasta is played with two decks of cards and has lots of rules. Red threes are worth 100 points, black threes are good for freezing the pile. You need 50 points to meld, until you have 1200 points, when you need 90. Learning this game as a child taught me to think ahead, pay attention to details, and count like crazy.

And last night we got to do it again. We played On Great Grandma Billie’s table with her double deck and reviewed the rules as we went along. We were surprised to find out how much we remembered… even down to my Mom’s expression, “Let’s go out now and catch ‘em with their pants down!”

Grandpa Nelson and Kyle whupped us the first game, but Auntie Christy and I came back and passed them to win the set. It was nice to win, but even more fun to be playing a game that was so much a part of every gathering in my family.

It is like making the family whole again, after losing Great Grandpa Lowell, Great Grandma Billie, and Uncle Jim. Like the characters in my story, we are learning that with the love and history we share, we are enough of a family to go forward.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Old Friends

Dear Liza,

Our Christmas tree is a look back at our lives. When your Daddy David was little, Grandpa Nelson and I attended synagogue and celebrated Hanukah. There weren’t any Christmas ornaments in the house!

But we had both been raised with Christmas, and Great Grandma Billie had lots of ornaments. When Auntie Bridgett came to live with us, she brought lots of them… breakables and stuffies, religious and silly, you name it.

Kitty’s duckies

She loves Christmas so much that we started celebrating it again! And I am glad we did. Some ornaments remind us of dear friends who aren’t nearby. Kitty Petruccelli ‘visits’ us every year with her silly rubber duckies.

When Great Grandma Billie got older and came to be closer to us in Salinas, she got to see our tree with some of her ornaments and Bridgett’s, as well. It helped her feel at home.

Momma’s pine cone

When she passed away, her decorations let me celebrate a little of her joy and history.

Ornaments let me celebrate other people, as well. A former student, known as Ex, made this for me about 20 years ago. He was a sweet soul with a hard life. I have no way of knowing where he is now, but I wish his happy heart well.

Ex Wells’ sweet face

When we travel, Auntie Bridgett makes sure we get a souvenir that we can see every year. Here is a tiny gnome form Strausburg, France.

From France…

This delicate wooden scene came from the Christmas market in Cologne, Germany.

…and Germany

Every year we pick up a few ones, so we keep making new memories.

Love,

Grandma Judy