1) Christmas Day! It no longer begins with the excitement of childhood, but it is precious nonetheless. I was last to bed and first to rise, just after six, and had my first cup of coffee and devotional (Proverbs 9 and Herbs and the Earth) before Mother appeared, fully dressed and, to my delight, wearing the necklace of silver hearts I gave her as a child.
2) Oldest Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged appeared in order to spirit away his sister to their father’s family’s big Christmas celebration in Lafayette. We had some good chat about his Christmas Eve celebration with his church community, which included Swedish influences. (Not, alas, young women wearing wreaths of candles.)
3) After my traditional posting of Sir Thomas Beecham’s arrangement of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus (as I have pointed out many times before, you can just make out the kitchen sink he threw in among all the extra brass and the skirling woodwinds), I turned my attention to making avocado toast for our Christmas breakfast. Thank goodness I had an extra avocado, as I had too heavy a hand with the salt and lemon juice! The end result turned out all right.
4) Once I’d cleaned up the kitchen (if you know my mother at all well, you know that leaving the dishes until later is next door to heresy), we settled down to some Scrabble. About three or four turns in, while I was trying to decide if PINSUIT was a word, we were both surprised to hear the doorbell ring. Our caller was Toni, who apparently lives next door, inviting us both to come over “as there are several people who really want to see you. They knew your family.” My initial reaction, of course, was to retreat - not least because I hadn’t bathed yet and smelled like a paper mill - but we both said we’d be glad to and would be there shortly.
4a) I immediately doused myself with 4711 and changed into day clothes. Not wanting to go empty-handed, I was able to set my hands on a little Christmas gift to bring with me.
5) Mother had not told me she had gay neighbors! A happy coincidence, Toni and her partner (whose name I have not retaiend) live next door with their son. It’s always a pleasant shock to find gay people living in Lake Charles!
6) But the BIG surprise was meeting the Boudreau brothers, Jerry and Robert, who grew up with my father and my Uncle Tom in Opelousas! Robert especially was eager to talk to me and share stories of Uncle Tom at the University of Houston, and of visiting my father in the final months of his life at the Guardian House, and much else.
7) While the main gathering was continuing in the living room, Mother and I and the Boudreau brothers and a changing assortment of female relatives sat in the dining room. While Mother and I snacked on crawfish pie and other delicacies, more stories were shared. I brought up the name Emma Michie, and that set off a torrent of memories about the Majestic Hotel and life in Lake Charles at the mid-century. The name LaRue Stevens, a man who’d also been to high school with them, also figured prominently in the conversation.
8) Robert’s daughter (whose name escapes me) mentioned the names of her sisters (who were not there) in passing. One of the names was unique enough that I looked at the sister in a new light, seeing suddenly a family resemblance. “My God, did you sisters perform for Marc Pettaway in the Cotton Candy Players?” I asked, flushing with horror. They had, and I had performed with them, 40-some-odd years ago, in a musical parody of Cinderella and probably a few other things, too. They also went to the Catholic school where I spent my sophomore year of high school. I remember having words with the younger sister in theology class (in which I, the Methodist, did better than all the Catholic kids).
9) The champagne was flowing, so unlike a Dimmick family anything, certainly encouraged by Mr. Boudreau. Mother, ever the teetotaller, didn’t entirely express disapproval, but would have preferred otherwise. Toni and her partner and I got to talk about their recent trip to Salem for Hallowe’en!
10) At noon we gracefully departed as the family was preparing to head to another Christmas celebration. Fond goodbyes were said. Walking home, I noticed that they had a large thyme plant growing in a pot at the end of their driveway, and ran my hands along the stems so Mother could smell the thymy smell.
11) Mother has just gone down for a NAP, and I will follow shortly. This has been a most unexpected Christmas, but a very enjoyable one!