Hard to believe I haven't written since before Solstice. So much has happened, and I've certainly needed my mantra of "let in the light."
Our Solstice celebration was wonderful. Leading up to it, we did a lot of preparing and creating. ElvenTiger and I in particular have had lots of fun making things this holiday season. We baked peppermint chocolate cookies for a cookie swap, knitted scarves and dishcloths and a hat (the hat was her, not me), and decorated the house. Our candy-making, which BlackLion helped with, involved needhams, peanut butter cups, peppermint bark, and chocolate-dipped candy creams. We used nearly all five pounds of chocolate chips I'd ordered from the food co-op! Ocean brought luminaries, and the backyard was a beautiful garden of lights as the celebration began. ElvenTiger lit the Solstice fire at sunset, as Quester was still on his way home from work; it was her first time as official deputy fire-keeper, and she did fantastic!
It was rainy the night of the gathering, so our ritual was short and sweet, between rain showers. But for us, the whole night, sunset to sunrise, is the ritual. This Solstice was particularly slow and contemplative. The teens mostly hung out in Dryst's room together, with an occasional foray out for food and fire-gazing. Some of the younger folks hung out and we made paper snowflakes, chatted, and they played Minecraft and other computer games together. Some new friends joined us and stayed late to visit and craft with us. We had lots of fun!
The day after Solstice was mellow, as always. We slept the morning hours away, then got up and cleaned the house, munched on leftovers, and watched a holiday movie together. Friday we did a big last-minute shopping run, supporting our local music store as we purchased gifts for friends and family.
On Christmas Eve, we went to Mom and Dad's, the guys watching the Patriots football game, ElvenTiger and I helping Mom get ready for dinner that night with my brother and his wife. Aunt Peg stopped by for drinks and munchies so she could see them, since my brother and family planned to stay home on Christmas Day this year. She had to leave around 4pm to go home and finish getting ready for the open house she has each year for her friends. When my brother went out to his car just minutes later, he found Aunt Peg on the ground. She had fallen on the icy driveway and broken her leg!
She was rushed to the hospital, and we all congregated there in the ER. Our family has a bit of, ahem, a history of medical crises happening around Christmas. So we were able to joke about it; the plan for next year is to stay home and Skype each other, and my brother is getting some t-shirts printed up saying "Practice Safe Christmas." Quester, Mom, ElvenTiger and I had Christmas dinner at Amato's at 9pm (just before they closed), because we left the hospital once Aunt Peg was resting in her room, only to discover we were all ravenously hungry. Those subs tasted mighty good.
Needless to say, our Christmas was chaotic. Mom and Dad came to open gifts with us in the morning, but we were all kind of distracted. Aunt Peg had surgery at noon on Christmas Day to put a plate in her leg (the bone was rather shattered). She is the primary caregiver for her husband, who can no longer care for himself, so we created a plan for folks to take turns staying with him, including staying with him at night. Our Christmas dinner was fragmented, as we took food next door to him, and to my Dad, who went and ate and watched basketball with him. Then we rushed off to be there when Aunt Peg awoke from the surgery. Poor Mom was exhausted.
Things have calmed down a bit. We had our Christmas with BlackLion's Mom on Monday evening, and it was very relaxing and fun. She fed us a lovely feast, and after we opened gifts together we watched my favorite Christmas movie, "White Christmas." Aunt Peg comes home tomorrow, and her husband's daughter is flying in to spend a couple weeks helping them out. We'll be over there a lot, too, helping out in whatever ways we can. One of my friends offered to cook meals for them, and has been delivering all kinds of casseroles and goodies. She's so awesome!
My favorite, and a very unexpected, physical gift was a Kindle Fire, given to me by Mom and Dad! After a conversation on Thanksgiving where Dad and I were both saying we'd love to have one, and of course the side note that Dad actually wouldn't even know how to turn on a computer, I didn't think much more about it. Dad decided that he wasn't interested in getting a wireless network and learning to use technology that he'd never bothered much with before. But apparently he wanted to grant my wish to try an e-reader. And I love it! Don't fret, dear readers, I'm not giving up conventional books, by any means. But I am really enjoying the Kindle and all its cool features, and the ability to take a whole stack of books with me anywhere, in this tidy little package.
We got lots of other awesome gifts, too, including a very cool digital photo frame from BlackLion's Mom, who is an amazing photographer. She filled it with all kinds of wonderful family photos, which made it even more special! Aunt Peg had brought over her gifts earlier, and she made me an adorable kitty napkin-holder, with the names of all our kitties past and present. So sweet! I'm so thankful for all of this abundance.
I wish I had more photos of the festivities to share, but I did get the gift of a new battery for my beloved camera, so I promise to have more pictures featured in upcoming blog posts. We made a really cool Christmas cake, and I'll be putting up the final Cake of the Month post soon.
Last but certainly far from least, Merlin cat has been healing steadily and is doing well. He's become playful at times, and he does look longingly at the door once in a while, but he's made no serious attempt to slip outside. He loves having the roam of the house, and stays close by his people much of the time.
(Merlin was helping ElvenTiger check out the Kindle. Notice her living pillow - Star dog!)
Merlin will get his wires removed at the end of next week, which I'm sure will be a big relief to him.
Both of the cats' favorite things this Yuletide, even more than the yummy treats and organic catnip, are the various boxes that other gifts came in.