By the Tuesday before Christmas, most of our local roads were relatively clear of the great snowfall which arrived the previous weekend. I made local deliveries of Christmas cookies and put a few small parcels of them in the mail to a few far-flung pals. (I’d like to have sent more to a few others of you, but supplies never go as far as one hopes. Perhaps there’ll be New Years cookies this January.) Gifts were wrapped and boxed up for traveling, clothes were packed, laundry gathered. There was, naturally, much snuggling with my Purry Pal and a few gifts presented to him before my departure and then, in a whirlwind of snow, I was on the road for Mom and Dad’s in Connecticut.
It was a refreshing change to see less snow on the ground as I traveled west – so often exactly the opposite is the case when traveling for the winter holidays.
A light storm of sparkly snow flurries greeted my arrival late that afternoon and was the perfect backdrop for a visit to their local Target for a few last minute things to round out my giving, before settling in for some dinner and wrapping (and rapping…well, not rapping…) with Mom and Dad.
December 24th was bright and sunny for us there and I’m excited to tell you that, for the first time ever (that I can recall, at least), I got to see reindeer on Christmas Eve. The city of Torrington has this place, a park, called Christmas Village, which is open every year for the month of December. And conveniently for us, open until midnight on Christmas eve.
It’s a tradition that stretches back into the middle of the last century(1947), growing from a simple woodland park to the larger affair it has become over the years. Now there’s a Santa house, a Toy Shoppe, Nativity scene, carolers and reindeer stables.
Hardly any snow remained on the ground there in northwest Connecticut, and as we were there in the afternoon, we didn’t get to enjoy the many Christmas lights which dress the buildings and trees. As you might imagine, it wasn’t especially busy, either, with most children’s requests to Santa long since submitted and the Big Man nowhere to be seen, of course, as he rested up for the Big Flight ahead.
But Mrs. Claus was there to entertain a few last minute kids, and there were four reindeer in residence, too.
Last year, the reindeer had been forbidden, due to some change in local ordinance, but through a special CT law passed since 2008, the reindeer had returned for this Christmas season. It was a treat to see such beautiful animals, though I am always a little sad to see any animals in captivity…especially when little effort seems to have been made to keep their space as clean as they deserve.
Despite my mixed feelings on that front, this was still a fun way to pass our Christmas Eve afternoon and we even found someone to take a photo of us at the front gate.
The evening found us at Sue and Joe’s for the annual Christmas Eve feast with Joe‘s family…and feast we most certainly did, for about four hours! Ah, but with such good company, it barely seemed like an hour (although no one could possibly eat so much food in such a short time).
This was my second year for this particular holiday tradition, so I knew not to eat much throughout the earlier part of the day, and to pace myself on the first course, with its tempting meats and cheeses and pickled eggplant and artichokes and devilled eggs and tasty breads and such, since there’s a wonderful pasta, meatball and sausage dinner immediately following. Oh, and some lovely Chianti, which had us all feeling rather merry, indeed.
Just in case we’d managed not to fill some corner of our eager stretched bellies with what came before, there was a great display of cookies, cake, sweets and great coffee to follow. Ah, heaven. A minor Christmas miracle was noted here, when we realized that amongst all the cookies Mom, Sue and I had baked, there wasn’t a single recipe duplicate! (And major props to my sis on the three kinds of biscotti, but especially the pistachio.)
There’s Cooper, waiting under Sue and Joe’s tree to pounce on Santa when he shows up. After exchanging a few gifts, those festivities were winding down right around 11:30 (we’d sat down to the table at 5:00!!), and Mom and I were pleased to have just enough time to get ourselves to Midnight Mass, which is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Christmas morning found us barely hungry. Of course, there’s always room for coffee, which we enjoyed while Mom, Dad, Dewey-cat and I reviewed the many little gifts and treats with which dear Santa fills our stockings each year. In case you can’t read it, Dew’s stocking says “Santa, I’ve been almost purr-fect…”
Noontime found us welcoming Sue and Joe and we sat down to an afternoon of round-robin gift opening, seasoned with great laughter, lots of love and a fresh supply of wine and cheese, while the turkey and all its fixings cooked in the kitchen.
After that great dinner was consumed, the five of us decided to try our hand at a group photo, complete with tripod (which I’d tucked along for exactly that reason) and timer photography, always fun. There’s a whole series of photos taken, as we adjusted the light in the room, turned off the flash, rearranged ourselves, answered the phone, decided to add Santa hats, found the Santa hats, shifted around a little more, and found the kitty. How excited we were to discover that the timer’s warning beeper attracted Dewey’s attention so that even he was looking in the right direction!
Finally we got the image we were hoping for, a sweet snapshot to remind us what was a truly terrific family holiday.
I’m sure they’d all join me is wishing that each one of you had a holiday to remember, as well: Some pretty colored lights, good company, tasty food to eat and if you’ve been almost purr-fect this year, maybe a little catnip.
Wishing you comfort and joy.