This has been the quietest Christmas
that I have ever spent.
Memories of past celebrations
flood the memory banks.
In an unheated stone church in Germany,
built during Charlemagne's reign,
a children's choir in dirndls and lederhosen
sang a touching, "Stille Nacht!"
Eleven o'clock evening services
or thereabouts in eight Episcopal churches;
one in which I began a tradition
of ushers in black tie and dinner jacket.
Then the return to the house for
a midnight repast, mostly alcoholic,
with guests, usually oddball characters
whom we barely knew and promptly forgot.
Early on, Mr. and Mrs Santa Claus
labored into the wee hours.
In later years, a designated slave
assembled the do-it-yourself items.
Ma and Pa staggered down
the stairs as late as possible
to see the stockings being emptied,
get some stollen in their stomachs.
After the Santa Claus days were over
a strict order of opening presents was imposed.
One by one, each person in turn
selected a gift, and opened it for all to see.
I forget when the standing rib roast tradition began
but it was a welcome change from turkeys.
The only problem was that it took all day to cook
while Pa again failed to master Yorkshire pudding.
Dessert was often a flaming pudding
which was both hazardous and hard to eat.
By late afternoon, chaos had faded to stupor.
The progeny then scattered to various venues.
This year, Barbara and I were alone,
attending a Christmas Eve service at seven.
In bed by ten as usual, we had
a leisurely pancake breakfast next morning.
Our major presents were already in use,
so we took pictures holding the boxes
of a Canon Power Shoot camera for her
and a 40 inch Panasonic Smart TV for me.
God bless you all, have a Happy New Year,
and forgive my lengthy lucubration!
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