Our friend Nae came over--she's the one who went to nursing school with Malida. Her husband is in Thailand, so it was just her. They are like family, so it's very relaxed.
I called family and friends as the roast cooked. I called my former mother-in-law (Nanay) to wish them a Merry Christmas. When Malida talked to her, Nanay noted that "Mike never comes here anymore for Christmas", which is true. We haven't been there since Malida arrived in the US. We needed time to create our own traditions, and not have her step into someone else's. In any case, Malida told Nanay, "Oh, we will come for Christmas next year for sure!" Which will be nice. These things take time.
As I was making my Christmas greetings, I thought about all the Christmas traditions that have come and gone in my life. Christmas eve's at my grandparents, Christmas day at our house when I was a kid. How everything changed when my folks got divorced and remarried, and the flurry of new traditions that came and went. About the times in my life when I spent holidays alone, or working, because it was just easier that way. About the years when I was in ministry and spent so much time planning and participating in the midnight Masses. About the traditions I developed with Arlina, and about the time after when I was alone again and watched those traditions crumble into dust, once again. I thought about all the people in my life who I could at one time say "Merry Christmas".
Malida and I don't really have big solid traditions for Christmas. If we feel like putting up a tree, we put up a tree. We don't buy much. Really, it mostly centers on having a nice meal and spending it with people we love, whoever they may be, and wherever we end up. I think about what Christmas is really about. I thought about the new Pope today, and what he has done in such a short time to chance the face of Christianity. He gives me hope.
We had our lunch at the kitchen table, with the ordinary dishes. We had pork roast, roasted potatoes, green beans, king crab, scallops, and shrimp. Kind of eclectic, but it was just about perfect. I put out the crystal glasses and we had some champagne to wash it all down. After we ate we spread out on the couches and chairs and watched the first part of the Hobbit. After the movie we went out to the creek trail to take a walk. It was a beautiful afternoon. Everyone we passed on the trail was smiling and we all wished each other "Merry Christmas".
Just the way I like it.