Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Cheer

It was the first Christmas we were ever alone. Daughter Carolynne with Ray and Christy were at Ray’s parents in Oregon. Grandson Johnny is in Iraq. Son John is in Thailand. We thought it would be a nice quiet holiday.

Johnny received his cookies and books a few days before Christmas and this time kept two packages of cookies for himself before the Army 82nd Airborne devoured the rest. They seem to like home-made cookies the best, even better than beef jerky. At least Johnny sent us an email with some pictures. I like this one.

John is working his way through Southeast Asia, sightseeing, diving, meeting interesting people. Anyone who wishes can follow the journey at his blog: http://www.mytripjournal.com/RequestUpdateNotice/johnlama. John will send you an email whenever updates are available. The pictures are great.

Christmas day was quiet. Starbucks was nearly empty but the coffee was free. At home I looked at all the cards on the mantle and leafed through the pile we saved from last year. There was the card with the picture of Lori and Mike and their kids. Mike was too young to leave us; the best husbands and fathers should live the longest. Now Lori and the children have a sweet new Lab puppy. We all miss Mike.

This morning Maria brought her two boys, Nick and Theo, to the ‘bucks and I was reminded again of how precious our old and new friends can be. Sweet Sue listened patiently to Steve about his wife’s recovery from brain surgery. Friends! I’m so lucky with my friends, some, like the Zone Bridge pals I see only in pictures and text. (Hi… TexasJudy and Maggie.)

My oldest friend Jim Cimino called on the day before Christmas. Jim was hiding at the office while his home was commandeered by Terry, his daughters and seven granddaughters. Whoa Nellie! Jim sent me a funny email about a typical Italian family greeting their son’s new girlfriend, an Americaan, on Christmas Eve.

I thought it would be interesting for a non-Italian girl to see how an Italian family spends the holidays. I thought my mother and my date would hit it off like partridges and pear trees..... I was wrong!

“I know these family things can be a little weird,” I told Karen, “but my folks are great, and we always have a lot of fun on Christmas Eve.”

“Sounds fine to me,” Karen said.

I should point out, I suppose, that in Italian households, Christmas Eve is the social event of the season -- an Italian woman's reason for living. She cleans. She cooks. She bakes. She orchestrates every minute of the entire evening.

I should also point out, I suppose, that when it comes to the kind of women that make Italian men go nuts, Karen is it. She doesn't clean. She doesn't cook. She doesn't bake. And she has the largest breasts I have ever seen on a human being.

I brought her anyway.

I’m going to leave it there, but will happily provide the rest to anyone who asks. It is a riot. Thanks, Jim.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my dear daughter sent her old dad a terrific present, a pinup calendar. It seems that the girls of Bend, Oregon got together and created a “Thank You Troops” 2007 calendar. Carolynne got two of the girls, Ashley and Nikki, to autograph their months. Oo-la-la. They made enough money to send twenty thousand calendars to our troops overseas. Thank you, Bend girls!

That reminds me of the Palos Verdes Library “Books for Troops” program that has sent well over 40,000 books to our soldiers. Thanks to our Santa’s, Gene Roeder and Pat Foltz.

Just one more thing and I will put this sentimentalism aside. Did you see the piece on 60 Minutes about the African elephant orphanage? One of the babies was blind and had its own, personal seeing-eye man.

Ok,… one more thing. Have you seen the baby gorilla that was born after her mother was treated with a fertility drug?

Keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens realized that because Salome was not becoming pregnant by her partner Jock, despite regular mating, she must not be ovulating. A medication named Clomid, which encourages the ovary to release the egg, was smuggled into her food. Soon afterwards, Jock performed his connubial duties and on December 15 the infant arrived. Way to go Jock!

Salome's baby represents an important contribution to the next generation of gorillas, and she surely cheered me up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your reference to the Italian Christmas Eve celebration made me sad. I spent my entire life at one of those...until I moved to California. I miss that ritual...do you think we could pull one off for next year and invite the Starbucks crew? I'd love to host and would be delighted to cook. Remember, I take planning to a new level...so, here's to Christmas Eve 2007!


8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi dad,

What a nice holiday blog! I love the picture of Johnny. He sent me a different one I will have to forward to you! I sure do miss him! I picked up a calendar for John this morning and the girls signed it for him! I will take it to Darcie this weekend and get it off to you.

Love you,

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

May you and your family have a blessed remainder of the Christmas season, and a blessed and happy 2007!

For Christmas I got the usual requested pile of exciting new books, and one in particular was fantastic. You may already have seen it and/or read it. If not, I would highly recommend it to you.

It is "God's Universe" by Owen Gingerich. It is a short, easy read (only 121 pages), but packed with profound insights into how one world-class scientist who is also a dedicated Christian has developed a beautiful and coherent worldview. The book is derived from a set of three invited lectures Professor Gingerich gave at an annual Harvard lecture series
on various topics in religion.

Greg J.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Yolo Cowboy said...

Bill, our youngest is six, and while I am still trying to figure out how I am going to get her through college, I know that the years will fly by, just as they have done for our 13 year old.

I have little fantasies about having the extra time and money to do the things I have put off, like travel and maybe go back to school, but I know it will be much different in an empty nest. I am sure it will take time to adjust.

God bless Johnny and his unit, I am getting a care package ready to send Friday to a group of Marines in Baghdad. I admire those men and women more than words can say.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We Italinan/Albanians weren’t quite like that. My dear mother-in-law loved that with a Sicilian/French heritage, I’d eat everything...even things she and my own mother refused to, like squid etc. Of course my 3 children wouldn’t eat any until one married a Korean gal. Now he loves squid—any way it’s fixed.. I was lucky in that I liked that kind of cooking even as a kid.

Thanks, Bill, you made me laugh!!


6:59 PM  

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