Christmas Eve, a reflection

The daylight on Christmas Eve seemed to shine a little brighter, and the air became somewhat crisper. This is perhaps only my own personal perception of the day yet I feel as if things were much more in focus. The melodious peal of a finely crafted silver bell would surely have been a timorous footnote tucked in as an afterthought to the profoundly overwhelming glory my eyes did feast upon whilst I went about my morning. I enjoyed distant birdsong instead, and the eerie whoosh of the wind through the unclothed boughs of my maple tree.

We forwent the usual Christmas Eve dinner and made do with our local Chinese restaurant tonight. Steubenville is a peaceful town even on Christmas Eve. We needed a few sundries from the grocer and my hair was in dire need of a trim and so we ventured out into the cold.

I would never have dared to leave the house and approach any shops had we lived anywhere other than here. It is as if this were the town that never learned how to be rude. There were a few people whom I wished had a little more goodwill towards their fellow man (or children!) but most of the people that we encountered were as upbeat as a merry carol.

We were out of the beauty parlor in a short amount of time and the only thing that held us up at the grocery store was perhaps my indecision in regard to some cuts of meat and a pair of trouser socks (I should have picked up a cheap pair while we walked through Sears, but it slipped my mind.)

The evening air is tranquil now, broken now and then by a distant siren or the laughter of a neighbor welcoming in guests from the cold. Jewel boxes glimmer over hill and dale, a myriad of festive lights outlining merry homes. The world seems pensive.

Better Half and I will snuggle up with each other in the living room (he found a copy of “The Iron Giant”) and struggle to keep awake until it is time to prepare for Midnight Mass at Holy Rosary. How glad I am to be able to attend this year! (Our vehicle was at the dealership undergoing repairs during the holidays in 2006.)

These are the memories that I will savor everlastingly. This tranquility is what carries me through the year. I wish you all the best on Christmas day, and throughout 2008.


Kiwi (A Master Thesis)

Better Half comes to mind -


Wine Tasting

It is time for the annual Christmas Picture of Autrice. I have pasted it above so that you might break a rib or two in laughter.

We attended a splendid wine tasting this evening. Better Half thought it would be a romantic change of pace (he was correct) so we bundled up and headed over to Valley Wine Cellar.

Kim and Mary, the proprietors, outdid themselves. I absolutely adore their shop, if only because the colors match the colors in my own house. They are a sumptuous blend of deep reds and golden silk, pared with whimsical wine posters. It speaks of Northern Italy (or Southern France) and they have furnished it with rich drapery and an “orgasmicly” comfortable couch. Tonight the glass coffee table was laden with a plethora of fine cheeses, crackers, vegetables and dried fruits.

The Presenter, Erika Young, provided us with a sampling from France, New Zealand, Chile and Italy. I have never given much though to Chilean wines however I did find the Santa Rita “Reserva” Caernet Sauvignon to be surprisingly refreshing.

The Petalo Moscato Spumante was the crowd favorite (I am quite fond of Spumante, personally.) It has a magnificent golden color and a fine, persistent perlage. I found the rose aroma to be a delightful prelude to the sweet taste of the apple and peach flavoring.

I was smitten with the 2000 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon. 2000 proved to be a fantastic growing season in the Bordeaux region and this wine stood as an unblemished testament to that fact. We promptly purchased a bottle before they sold out.

The Macon Lungy “les Charmes” captured our fancy, and Better Half procured a bottle for Christmas day. I absolutely adore this perky Chardonnay.

Granted, these are all rather inexpensive but only a boorish wine snob would spend more than $30 for an everyday table wine. I do wonder how many people actually do use wine every day. I also wonder if I will remember to pick up a new corkscrew at the grocery store tomorrow. Our old one has taken to shredding corks.

It was a cheery evening spent with charming people. We have an open invitation to visit a neighbor’s pond (Better Half and I have toyed with the idea of putting one in our own backyard.) We also received an invitation to a Christmas gathering a week from tomorrow.

In other news:

Truffle has made a complete recovery and has spent the last few days being an active puppy. She frolicked in her first snowfall yesterday and today.

Better Half hauled all our holiday boxes up from the basement and we put together the Christmas tree. We shall spend the weekend decorating it.

It is not often that an owner can say that their hairstyle matches their dog.


A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

"I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

(Author unknown)

The start of the Holidays, 2007

I am filled with a certain dread: the holidays are upon us and my home is not ready. Ten years ago, it would have been completely festooned the day after Thanksgiving. This is 2007 and I finally got around to putting up some garland today.

Better Half hauled up the Box of Indoor Garland this evening and I busied myself with hanging everything to perfection. The boughs must drape in just the right manner. The ribbon and beads must crimp and flow precisely so many inches per arch. The lights must spread evenly throughout the swag with no bunching or dark spots. I am either anal retentive or bipolar/OCD!