A light fog hung on the grounds this morning as I looked out my window, the sandhill cranes trilling lively in the distance, the air feeling heavy with rain. I cradled a cup of Earl Grey tea in my hand, as I let random thoughts somersault through my mind. It felt as though this year had sped by, and now here it is, the end of November, with only thirty-three days left before we begin a new year.
As the holiday season began last week, and heads towards a full swing, it struck me as this is a good time to round out the month of November and its supposed focus on thanksgiving.
Drama dared to pop up its ugly head in the past couple of weeks or so; it’s such a crying shame since it has been absent most of this year. Best Friend and I are grateful that we are not in the thick of the theatrical stage acting of that drama, but why, oh why, must it come knocking on the door from time to time?
Thankfulness is a virtue and a very private one. I, for one, have much in the way of thankfulness, but I prefer to keep the specifics private. Not everything needs to be – nor should be – publicized in the public square. I will say that our celebration was just right for us in all aspects.
Packing away the Thanksgiving decorations (as little as there is) is a priority in preparation for decorating The Oasis at Four Queen Palms this year. That’s about as far as it got as of this writing; decorating for Christmas will be in the coming days.
Over the weekend I baked a dark, English style fruitcake, using the recipe from the Antoinette Pope School of Cookbook (1948, by Antoinette and François Pope). This cookbook is my go-to recipe and cooking method guide and has been a staple in my family since the early 1950s. I’ll write more about that in a future essay.
I soaked the fruit in brandy for two days before preparing and baking the cake. This step was a success, and now the cake is packed well in parchment paper and tin foil, aging for the next two weeks in a cool place.
I spend most evenings reading, snuggled in a chair by the fireplace, long into the night. Currently, I am reading Old Times in Dixie Land by Caroline Elizabeth Merrick. It was published in 1901, and it is a fascinating book.
December promises to be a grand month, filled with activities both here at The Oasis at Four Queen Palms and in the outside world. Some of the stores are decorated with lit trees, garland, and greenery. The restaurants are likewise decorated. I’m waiting to see who in our neighborhood will be the first to set up their blow-up penguin or ginormous dinosaur in the front yard, because nothing says “Christmas” like a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex, or a faded fat Santa Claus, or even a smiling Chilly Willy. It is lost on me why Christmas decorations have become – dare I say it? – tacky? Granted, there were plastic snowmen and reindeer in front yards years ago, but now there are twelve-foot vinyl blow-up monstrosities in characters that have nothing to do with Christmas: Star Wars, dragons, dinosaurs, station wagons, Noah’s ark . . . Well, I do get a laugh out of the ridiculousness of it all, so I suppose they have some purpose.
A few neighbors in this area already decorated their houses with clear and colorful twinkling lights, evergreen wreaths with large red ribbons, and red poinsettias on porches.
I’m already planning dinner menus, gathering gifts to wrap, perusing my Christmas card list, and the like. We play Christmas music every day. The jury is still out if a Christmas letter will be on the schedule. I do vacillate on doing one. It does not pay to include one to the people with whom we have regular contact, but the ones we rarely hear from . . . well, is it worth sending a letter? Perhaps not. Perhaps just a note of well wishes for the coming year.
Best Friend has by now bought tickets to the theater. We are greatly looking forward to that, for those nights out mean worthwhile time just for us two.
And as a matter of course, there are the private religious observations to be followed.
Best Friend and I took a small break one evening and shared appetizer plates of heirloom cherry tomatoes with ham and a shrimp platter with hot dipping sauce. I served them on our Fiestaware pumpkin plates. We spent this time watching a Christmas-themed movie, “Father Christmas is Back” with Kelsey Grammar.
I look forward to sharing some of our holiday life during these upcoming weeks, and without the drama.
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