12-27-1999 Every Appropriate Holiday

Merry Everything:                                           December 27, 1999
Trying to get the letter done before Kami and Michael and the boys get here. AElfwine is back at work- the last couple of places he worked- Granite and Hastech closed the plants down between Christmas and New Years. I kind of miss that time with him.

Willow is off with Ernie getting some final materials for a present
she’s making for Jenny who arrives tomorrow, and Star and Kat are
playing with his Pokemon toys. With the help of Willow and Ernie
(mostly Ernie) we managed to get him 20 of the 50 some available. (I
think Ernie has 30 some- but he’s trying to “catch them all”) Burger
King has a trading night on Tuesdays that Ernie has been going to to
trade ones he’s got for ones he hasn’t, but this week the manager threw him and Willow out, claiming they were too old. Now, first of all, no where in the restaurant, on the commercials or anywhere is there an age limit posted, and the trading is set up so that there is no way being older could give you any more advantage than having enough money to buy more big kids meals. But moreover, I have great respect for people like Ernie, and Willow, and Megan and Dennis (and us) who have managed to retain their ability to play and enjoy toys. So we are annoyed at that BK manager. What a grinch!

Having learned to pretty much stick to things on the wish-lists, the presents we gave this year were very well received. Of course, Kat does regret not having gotten a I-mac, although she generally says “I wish I didn’t want something that was too expensive!” I try to point out just how much money the I-mac people have put into making her want to get one, but it doesn’t help.

A cool thing was that having chased around looking for a Pokedeck for Star, Alex found one for us in Peterboro- so he got one after all.
Apparently Peterboro is off the beaten track enough that they were able to keep one in stock until December 23ed!

Now that the gift giving is over, I can let people know that I got
AElfwine a neat tool like a dental drill that he can use to carve horn
and bone and jewels and amber. It came with an instructional video that showed someone carving filigree ostrich eggs. I think I should try that with a goose egg- although I can’t really imagine what other that a tree ornament one would do with a carved egg. It really sounds like something you do to hone your skills for something useful in your spare time.

The weather has remained cold and clear. The radio says that it is the
latest date for non-measurable snowfall in New Hampshire since 1913- and that was a couple of days ago. They are mentioning a “chance of” flurries over the next couple of days. But we are definitely in another drought. I am expecting a bumper crop of rocks in the garden next year as the freeze-thaw phenomenon pushes them up through the soil. AElfwine no longer even tries to break the ice on the pond for the geese. It’s frozen too hard.
On a Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Kielor talked about how their
lake had frozen clear because of the lack of wind and snow, and how you could look down into the depths when you skated and see the fish feeding. He also mentioned the gorgeous full moon on the Solstice. I have never seen quite that quality of light before. Had there been snow for it to reflect back from, I bet I could have read from it.
Actually, yesterday we got to see what he was talking about. We went
down to Steve Taylor’s for St. Steven’s Day, and he had a box of skates he’s picked up at yard sales, so we all got to go skating (even if we did had to trade off and take turns in the skates). His pond was clear and dark too- and it was like walking on glass. I have seen experiments where they try to get babies to crawl on glass over drops. Apparently there are strong natural instincts in humans that tell us not to step off into space. Well, that’s what it felt like stepping onto that clear ice. I could look down and see the mosses and other things on the bottom of the pond. It was very disturbing.

We did try a healing ceremony on Star to get rid of his allergies on
the Solstice. Sadly it didn’t work. We let him have wheat again, and
milk products, and he was OK for a while, but he’s been slipping back into the familiar vagueness that he lived in before the restricted diet. I guess that he was clear of allergens long enough that it took a while before he started to react again. But while I am still convinced that energy healing can produce miraculous results- apparently I didn’t do it quite right to get one this time. Oh, well, it was worth a shot.

He brought home a notice about a team meeting at school to “discuss his welfare”, and the first name on it was the school nurse. I am distinctly suspicious about THAT. This suspicion is increased by having recently fielded several phone calls where his special ed teacher offered to cut his hair for him, which I had to calm him down and tell him that it was up to him, and any time he wanted his hair cut, I’d take him to the barber and he could pick exactly what hair cut he wanted. Usually this resulted in his going from nearly tearful to relieved. Then on the “field trip” on the last day of school, his aide bought him two shirts, two pair of sneakers, a bag of socks (and boy do we already have too many socks!) and she had him trying on pants. She claims that she just loves to give people presents- but where is someone who gets paid $8 an hour going to get the money to buy him more than $55 dollars worth of clothes- and while I admit that he’s a charmer, she’s only known him for a couple of weeks. I hate it when people go behind my back. AElfwine has told Mainstream that he’s going to be late that day. They are not going
to blindside US!

I really wish we could get Solstice off. It’s very hard to try to work
even a family celebration, much less a religious observance in, when we still have to schedule in school and work. I think next year we’ll do
the presents on Solstice instead of Christmas- and maybe keep the kids home from school. Considering the schools don’t bother trying to teach them anything that close to vacation, they wouldn’t be missing much.
This was the last year for the Solstice Candle (although it did make it
through the night which we didn’t expect) and we are going to send the last bits of it down to Rudy to make into a new one which we hope will burn all night for another 25 some years of Solstices. Let’s see, I started burning that one in 1973 I think. We found the guest book from the various solstice feasts- Willow has volunteered to take them over asstaying up all night really doesn’t seem to be an option for me any more.
In theory, Fitz is coming back from Riverside Rest Home tomorrow. I
wouldn’t mind a few more days off, but haven’t figured out yet how to
get them. We put up the second tree in the living room. It is lovely- and has the wax and cinnamon ornaments on it, and candy canes. But I couldn’t find the big box of home-made ornaments, just the one’s that are so broken that I don’t put them up anymore, but I like to look at them once a year and remember who made them. It did contain the rubber “Sweeky Santa” Charlotte sent me some years after Diana’s first Christmas. She thought we must have left it, and I figure it must have been Thad’s toy, but I’ve never gotten around to checking with Claudia.
I hope the main box hasn’t gone permanently missing. We were so lucky to have so many of those ornaments survive the house fire. I remember the gold balls with strips of jewels that Gillian of the Greenwood brought back in 1974 or 73. And there are the wooden angels I carved when I was in high school and the cat, and the punched “tin” ornaments I made from spinach can lids- back when spinach cans had a “gold” lining. And the stained glass ornament Aelfwine brought to his first solstice feast, and the purple papier-mache monster we never found out who made; and the golden boar with red eyes that Barak and Peridot of the Quaking
Hand made, and the bells with tarot cards drawn on them from Katya, the little angel with a peppermint for a head (replaced at least once) Algernon Hartesmund made out of some rope, the needlepoint angel my sister Liz stitched me, and a stuffed blue bell (I think) Trish made from left over material from one of her garbs so many years ago), and the matchstick star Diana made in 4H, and the partridge in painted tinfoil over cardboard and string, the mirror inscribed with a rabbit rampant from Arthur, and the 12 days of Christmas knights we cut and glittered from a card Kathryn Goodwyn sent me back in Malden, and the paper cranes Dana Stuart folded, and the origami Star Avalon made me, and the paper star Charlotte sent me, and the many ornaments in dozens of media that Lisa made over the years. And all the ornaments- scandinavian heart baskets, and yarn godseyes, and pentagrams and year wheels and bead swags, and painted eggs the kids and I have made over the years.

Remembering is good- but I’d feel better if I found the box. There may be others I have forgotten. And it is good to remember them- at least once a year.
Willow finished the angel tree top ornament. It is gorgeous. Sadly, the
very full round tree had two spikes on top, so she is off center- we put a star up beside her on the other spike. The wings are absolutely
wonderful- she will be a joy long after the chicken would have been
forgotten. (Oh, AElfwine wants me to make sure that when I say it looks like a chicken exploded in the cellar, I mean only feathers everywhere- not any blood or guts or anything like that. Yuck. I hope that didn’t need to be said.)
What else has been happening? Well, Kat went on a field trip too- to
see a production of A Christmas Carol in Manchester, and also to an
arcade (how educational!). Willow and AElfwine and I tied the quilt, and Honour came by and helped me finish it. We were going to take it down, but haven’t yet because Zayde- Mr. Kaufman has fallen and hurt himself again, and is back in a nursing home. We are waiting for word on when we can go visit him (and show off the quilt).
We went down to Winchester for Christmas Eve. Ever since, well, since Mother was alive, I’ve been bringing down Swiss Steak for supper, but I hadn’t confirmed it. Then during the pre-holiday craziness I left the office phone off the hook, and the office is so far away from the rest of the house, we missed the minute or whatever they give you of annoying beeping, and so spent the next 18 hours wondering why the phone didn’t work! Anyway, I ended up pounding the swiss steak at the last minute. Boy was I embarrassed when I found out it was just me forgetting what I’d done, not a hardware problem with the phone!
Anyway, we picked up Dan, and went down to Winchester for the usual reading of the Bible, and King John was not a good man (A.A.Milne) and recitation of the Night Before Christmas. The gift exchange was much scaled down this year- I think the hit of the night was some very interesting(?) hats my sister Kitty had found- they type snow boarders wear. And Dan got an incredible tool kit from Trish and my father. I gave Liz some dark chocolate malted milk balls from Nelsons, and Bob some dried spiced apple shnitzes, Trish some dried oyster mushrooms from our tree, and Kitty some fresh goat cheese from the morning milking. So rural you could plotz.
Bob turned up wearing his Tux and looking very dapper. “Claus, Santa Claus” he said in his best James Bondian voice. To which Trish responded “Shaken (like a bowl full of jelly) not stirred”- right off the top of her head. That’s the kind of perfect response I come up with two days later! And for me, the height of the evening was when Bob started dancing with Cate, and AElfwine danced with me too. Well, maybe it wasn’t dancing, but he was holding me, and we were moving to music, so I was happy.
Dan came over late Christmas morning (her friend Jessica had been
visiting her and dropped her off. Jessica is into bunnies, and having
heard about our traditional breakfast with rabbit ears, she had to
sample a few!) and we had a lovely relaxed day (I was so relaxed that
apparently I fell sound asleep for part of the “greed fest”, excuse me,
present opening). We had a wonderful Roast Beef dinner, and played Hero Quest (continuing a set we had started in 1994 according to the notes) into the wee hours. Star, of course, got his Pokemon things and a Carrier Zord (Power Rangers has proved far more durable a series than I would have guessed.), Willow spent much of the morning rigging her Playmobil pirate ship, Kat got the new fantasy playmobil banquet and parlor sets (with the harp), and Dan gave Aelfwine a really top of the line metal detector. As you can see, we are very big into toys for the holidays.
Of course the next day was Boxing Day, so after breakfasting on
sweetened cereals (once a year- it’s only once a year!) we headed down to Steves, where we skated and sang, and did other entertainments. Steve had decreed that we would all entertain each other this year rather than exchange gifts, and it was pretty successful. A few gifts were surreptitiously passed. I’d been collecting the Celebrate the Century stamps for Sue all year, and had a few books I wanted to pass to Alva, and I love the Harry Potter Books so much I had to give the second one Lief and Charlotte. But by and large we managed to avoid it. I was feeling somewhat at loose ends from not bringing any baked goods down this year, but I managed to deal with it. Vicki had prepared a lovely middle eastern theme feast from stuffed grape leaves to scrumptious roast lamb to baklava. Anything I had brought would have been redundant, but old habits are hard to break. Maybe that’s what smokers feel like.
Our family sang, and Aelfwine gave a little lecture about early iron
works- as Steve has recently discovered that there used to be one in the next town, Vicki gave a slide show of some of the pictures she’d taken when over in the United Arab Emirates, and Jan had a bunch of neat charades worked out. Claudia came all the way up from Long Island, so all of AElfwine’s sibs were there. Sadly the many late nights recently required that we leave before we had talked and done as much as we would have liked.
Of course, the great trick to any long holiday is restraint and careful
pacing. I thought I’d pass on the recipe for rabbit ears- just as I got them off the Good Day show about 25 years ago. It was Jim Haller the chef at the Blue Strawberry who showed how to make them- a recipe to my style of cooking, which we have had for Christmas breakfast ever since.

Make a mound of flour on your board. I think it’s about two cups but I
don’t measure, so I’m not sure- could be less. Make a well and put in a couple eggs. (more if your pile of flour is bigger) Start working the
eggs into the flour and sprinkle in powdered sugar to taste. (I kid you
not, this is the way HE gave the recipe!) When the eggs are pretty much worked in, add enough heavy cream to bind it together into a pastry. Knead it until it’s smooth. Roll out into a large sheet, and cut into strips. Then cut diagonally across the strips to make polygons. Each of these gets a slit down the middle, then you pull one of the points through the middle. This makes what Jim Haller’s grandmother called “polish donuts”. Of course, I found out a few years later that they are fattigman bakkels- or in English: Rabbit Ears. Drop these a few (5?) at a time into hot oil. I like corn oil for deep frying if tallow isn’t available. If the fat is the right temperature they won’t get greasy.
Test them one at a time to see if the oil is hot enough. Heck, they are
full of eggs and cream already, so don’t sweat it. I use one of those
wok rack to drain them on before putting them on the paper. Dripping may not suck out as much grease as the paper does, but it doesn’t waste the grease. I find the easiest tool to use for putting them in and taking them out is a big pair of chopsticks, but I think Jim used a slotted spoon. Need I say: Enjoy!

I got a bunch of books as gifts look good, but I think I will actually
read them before I recommend any.

Tchipakkan

28.  Trust in a god or goddess but lock your car.

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