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December 24, 2004: All is calm, all is bright

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This morning, after sleeping in as late as we could stand it, we got up and gathered all the presents together and headed down to Richard's parents' house for the traditional Christmas Eve festivities.

We are lucky –he and I – that because our families live so close we are able to spend time during the Christmas holiday with each of them. His family always does the extended family bit on Christmas Eve, and for this and last year we started doing it during the day instead of in the evening, which has made things even better.

It is usually quite a relaxing day, and this year was no exception. Their adorable border collie puppy had grown at least another few inches in the two weeks since we last saw him, and a stint in puppy boot camp had him a little less prone to leaping madly at people in glee (although once Richard sat on the floor later in the day all bets were off from the puppy, and leaping in glee commenced in earnest).

We sat around the living room and talked. We ate Chinese food, and drank root beer straight from the bottle. We sampled too many different types of cookies to count, including spicy ginger cookies, and silly sugar swirls shaped like snails, with cloves for the eyes. We drank coffee and hot cider, and opened our stocking gifts to each other, one at a time, in unison (which means that I can now link to the goofy penguin that I knit for Richard for his stocking stuffer), and then moved on to the family gifts. Everyone in his family draws one name, but his parents have lately taken to getting everyone something fun and just a little goofy as well, so there were two boxes for everyone to open, and apparently this was the year of the electronic cat toy. I'm sure the manufacturers probably didn't think they were making cat toys, but what else do you call a hovercraft and a giant hockey puck that scoots around the floor on a cushion of air but cat toys?

Richard and I headed back at a leisurely hour, with more than enough time to stop for dinner along the way. I played through the hymns a few times to get my fingers reacquainted with the songs. And then I headed over to the church early, through the dark and the fog, to practice the songs again on the piano there, since I'd yet to even touch the baby grand the church got on loan for last week's cantata.

It was a small and quiet service, as the 11pm services usually are. I played the hymns as well as I could with improvised lighting, and my dad and I did a duet on alto and tenor recorder. Later, as we sang Silent Night, Richard and my dad stood behind me with their lighted candles so I could still see my music, and in the last verse I played only the lower parts and let the congregation carry the tune by themselves, because Silent Night is a song that was really meant to be sung in harmony, with only voices to echo out the refrain.

This has been a Holidailies entry.

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