Monday, December 31, 2007

'Though the Weather Outside Was Frightful,...

Wow. What a way to wrap up 2007.

Since my last post, life has been a whirlwind of activity, both wonderful and strange.

My mother treated me to a true English tea at Aunt Hattie's Tea Room on W. Douglas during the week before Christmas. Relaxing, delicious - a real treat! Strawberry soup, fresh cherry almond scones with lemon curd and Devonshire cream, cucumber sandwiches, a pot of hot tea for each...and that's just the beginning of the list of delectable goodies they put before us. I have to admit that we basically licked our plates clean.

The next day my kitchen was unexpectedly taken over by our good friends Flip and Shelley from Chicago. It was great fun to relax and watch somebody else work there. As usual, they coaxed fantastic food from my mundane equipment as we laughed, talked and drank our way through the day. I rather think my kitchen celebrates being used as it should be used each time they come to visit!

The object of their culinary take-over was the production of several decadent desserts to contribute to the annual Christmas extravaganza held by another of their long-time Wichita friends. We were graciously invited to the party as well, and that night Prairiewolf and I enjoyed a rich feast of food, beautiful holiday decorations, stimulating fellow guests, and the crowning enjoyment of excellent young Irish dancers accompanied by a live Celtic ensemble as they put on a poolside performance that won't be soon forgotten. It was truly a memorable evening.

With a snowstorm predicted for the next day, our son Qkslvrwlf decided to travel home a few hours early, and came in from St. Louis later that same night. As always, it was wonderful to have him with us again, although I wish he could have joined us for the Celtic music and dancing earlier. I know he would have enjoyed it tremendously.

Boy, the next morning we were so glad that Qkslvrwlf had traveled early when the sky opened up and the snow came in blinding, wind-driven veils of white. I think that storm was the closest I've ever seen to the white-out prairie blizzards that I've read so much about. You know, the storms where the settlers had to rig a line from the house to the barn, or they'd get lost as they tried to do their chores and end up wandering about until they froze to death.

Accompanying the heavy snow was thunder and lightning - thunder snow. Truly awesome.

Flip and Shelley joined us again that afternoon, despite the snowstorm (I believe Flip's words were, "I HATE Kansas weather!" as he walked in), and we continued our previous day's agenda of laughing, talking, drinking and eating, now further enlivened by the presence of Prairiewolf and Qkslvrwolf and by the addition of a few games to the mix. The only thing marring our afternoon - and it was a biggie - was concern about our daughter, Genie02, who was travelling up from San Antonio that day. She began hitting the snow around Oklahoma City, but luckily she's a good driver and the worst of the storm had blown itself out by the time she got near. So she got here safely and was able to join us about 7 o'clock, in time for a superb dinner of champagne chicken, smashed potatoes, Thai green beans, and chocolate chip cookies, cooked up by Chefs Flip, Shelley and Qkslvrwlf.

Flip and Shelley had to leave early the next morning to head back to Chicago for Christmas with their family, so Prairiewolf helped push them out of the driveway through the snow and got them safely on their way. Then the 4 of us, Prairiewolf, Genie02, Qkslvrwlf, and myself, settled in to enjoy the rest of one of the best Christmas times that I can remember. We put the tree up, finished buying and wrapping presents, had both sets of grandparents over to help us celebrate, enjoyed a Christmas Day meal that featured a wild turkey which Prairiewolf had shot last spring, experienced more unique weather in the form of snow mist, brewed some beer, and just generally enjoyed being together as a family for those few brief days.

My family and friends truly enfolded me and made this Christmas especially warm and full of love.

Both kids have had to leave by now. It was hard to see them go, but they are safely home and once more immersed in their own lives. I treasure the times we get together all the more for their brevity. Their love and support warms me even from far away.

Looking back on it, Christmas this year was memorable for family and friends, thunder snow and snow mist, Celtic music and dancing, delicious food, and much laughter and happiness. It's the gift of a feeling of celebration and love and joy that I wish I could somehow share with all the people on Earth. We could all use more of it in our lives.

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