Once Upon a Time I had a Busy Christmas Holiday 2004
Christmas 2004 Began at Home. Christmas is for me, of all holidays, a time of tradition. One tradition is to have dinner by ourselves at home on Christmas Eve and to open a few gifts between different courses of two kinds of smoked trout, smoked salmon, salad, wine and cheese, and stolen and coffee. The meal is a tradition.
On the window behind me is a replica of a church stained glass window. It is was given to us on our first Christmas. In this photo, I've just opened a present with the pink turtle neck sweater laying on the arm of the rocking chair (which was a present on another Christmas).
In addition to standard ornaments, our tree is decorated with keepsakes which we picked up on our travels -- a 100 peso note from Mexico, some yen from Japan a toy baycheck from Indonesia, things like that -- and mementos like the close pin Santa Clause my godson Michael made for me when he was in 2nd grade.
Christmas 2004 with my VanderPutten Family. We spent Christmas afternoon with my godson Michael and his family. Mike and Toni (Tanya) and their daughters Victoria and Olivia live in Columbia MD, a half hour north of DC.
Mike and Toni recently moved down from Long Island where they have always lived. (In this picture, 3-year-old Victoria with guitar and her 3-year-old cousin Ameer at the piano put on a show.)
We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with dishes prepared by about everyone except us. In addition to Mike, Toni, 3-year of Victoria, 6-month old Olivia, Brian and myself, Ton's parents Joel and Frannie from nearby Waldorf MD were there plus Sure, 3-year old Ameer, and his baby sister is Kaloni, his older sister is Tiffany, mom and dad Reggie and Dolores and Toni's aunt Diane and uncle Grant (charcoal broiled rib!) were there.
Christmas 2004 with my Larkin Family From Michael's we went to Upstate New York and spent the next three days with Dan and Michelle and our grandchildren Erica and Shane and visiting more family. We spent a lot of time outdoors. I went snowshoeing with Dan and the kids.
I visited Shannon and Dawne and Connor and Hillary at their home and went skating with Dan and all the kids on their neighbor's pond.
One of the highlights was ice skating. Michelle kidded about trying to get some snow for me (the kids know I love the snow) and said she'd arranged for one inch. But we got six inches, which she credited to a snow dance that Dan did for the occasion.
We had invited Maureen but she declined citing an alleged aversion to driving on holidays...sure :)
Over the past 25 years, we have probably share more meals and times with them that any other friends.
(If we look a little silly, remember this was New Year's Eve.)
New Year's Day 2005 with VanderPutten Family. January 1, 2005 was amazing. The sky was as clear as the West and the temperature reached 69 degrees. Brian kept saying it reminded him of Christmas in Albuquerque. Toni's father lamented the fact that the sidewalk restaurants weren't open.
My brother Dick and sister-in-law Peggy came down from Long Island the day before to start the New Year with their grandchildren Victoria and Olivia. They stayed in Old Town in Alexandria, just across from us in Northern Virginia. Mike and Toni and the children joined them for a few of the First Night activities.
On New Year's day, Toni's parents came down from Waldorf MD and joined us all at our home. After admiring the view, checking the bathrooms, changing the babies, and the like, we had brunch at the nearby Front Page Restaurant, which is kind of an extension of our kitchen.
For a few details about our brunch, see How I Spent New Year's Day 2005