Christmas Vacation, Day Five

1) Awakened pain free after five continuous hours of sleep before 6:00 AM, even before Mother (a noted early riser).

2) After yesterday's summer weather, a welcome Christmas chill in the air when we stepped out to get the paper.

3) Once breakfast was out of the way, we came to challenge of finalizing the Christmas Eve menu and grocery list, featuring a lot of debate about questions (from Mother) such as whether having both yams and a carrot casserole was too much orange on a plate. #thisshouldnotbeanissue

4) So it was off to the grocery store - Mother decided to stay home and round up dishes - down nearly empty streets around 9 AM. I found everything but one item on the list - of course it would be the dried prunes - but still made it home in record time.

5) We're having ham this Christmas, and pondering their wine selection, I was really unsure what wine goes best with ham. In the absence of a reasonable rosé, I opted for merlot, and my God defend the right!

5a) A lady in the same section, shopping with her two five-year-old girls, and I congratulated each other on beating the rush.

6) Mother was determined to get those dried prunes, and she also had to go to a funeral today as well, so she was off in the car and that was that. Then I got one Christmas card written before - surprise! - early arrival of Niece Who Must Not Be Tagged! So off we went to complete my Christmas shopping, and she had several helpful ideas.

7) We lunched at my beloved Café Luna downtown on Ryan Street, one of the few places that keeps the Flame of Originality burning in lovely Lago di Carlo. And such a good conversation with my niece.

7a) The Luna menu uses names from mythology, and I took a chance on the Uranus sandwich for a change (but without the fried egg): grilled pork loin with bacon and cheese and avocado.

7b) In the words of the late Anna Russell, "I'm not making this up, you know!"


8) Niece and I strolled downtown a bit, checking into an art gallery on the ground floor of the Charleston Hotel building (which has been vacant if not abandoned during my lifetime). Lots of various fleur-de-lis motifs and whatnots, in general a nice vibe.

9) After more errands, home finally to wrap my Christmas presents - not part of the Gay Gene I ever inherited.

10) And then, just after 3:30, a NAP - I was totally dropping!

11) After 5 PM I rose as from the dead to discover that Niece was AWOL and Mother was becoming a wee bit anxious about what to do for dinner. And I was aware that it was the cocktail hour. Cue retreat to the dining room with bourbon on the rocks.

12) And then, while working on a column, appeared my sister and her husband on schedule! The dining room then became the center of family activity for an hour or so. Laura and Tony joined me at one of the table (and Tony joined me in a drink) to catch up, and later I joined Mother at the other end for dinner. During all this time both Niece and Oldest Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged showed up, and it was a matter of which conversation one was able to follow.

13) After dinner I had to turn to making a chocolate honey pie. No, not like that chocolate pie in The Help! It's one of the recipe clippings Mother found that I thought might work. Now when I have to cook a new recipe, I generally like the kitchen to myself. But nothing, not even Of Oz the Wizard, could dislodge Mother from washing dishes I told her I would wash with all the pie-making dishes, etc. etc. etc. And to my surprise Tony hung out in the kitchen, too. And, as it happens, I needed Mother to tell me where she kept things.

13a) Parts of this kitchen are assembled tighter than a Chinese puzzle.

14) At this point the pie is done, all the gifts but one are wrapped, Mother has decided we are not going to church tomorrow, and Of Oz the Wizard is up to "the."