I was frankly not exactly looking forward to our celebration this year. Too many people, too much cooking and cleaning, too much money on too many gifts. Too many things to go wrong.
I could tell you all the things that in fact did go wrong, like the Christmas tree lights that stopped working, or the sibling squabbles that erupted (mine, not my kids), or my miscalculations on how many we could fit around the makeshift table which left us one seat short and everyone else scrunched uncomfortably together. Or the lost Kindle that probably ended up in a bag of garbage. Or the overabundance of leftover cookies and Trifle that have led to a horrifying number on my scale this morning.
But really, the only one who suffered much this Christmas was Mr. Trump, whose face we smashed during Piñata Scrabble. He was filled with Scrabble letters and candies. The kids present attacked the piñata and then two teams of adults scrambled—and that is a euphemism for more warlike behavior; there was a scary moment when we had to scoop a three-year-old out of the melee—for the letters before each team competed for the most points through creating a crossword of words. This was serious competition that included a re-count before the captain of the winning team received her prize, a light up necklace.
Ralph watched Piñata Scrabble from the sidelines, but he participated fully in all the rest of the festivities. All three of his kids were home together for an extended period for the first time in years and he basked in their attention. He loved the store-bought tree. He loved the cookies. He loved our big Christmas Eve meal with the funny hats and jokes. He loved his stocking of gifts and the poster his granddaughter gave him. He loved sitting on our porch in the unseasonably warm weather, not alone for a change but surrounded by family and friends telling stories until three in the morning!
“Best Christmas Ever” he says, and says again.
The highpoint came about ten pm on Christmas Eve. I was washing dishes (of course) when I realized what was going on out on the porch. The music had begun.
Ralph’s oldest son, now a professional bagpiper and sitar player, was playing guitar duets with Ralph while everyone else sang along, Dylan tunes in the family tradition. Then it was just Ralph while the rest of us watched and listened under the flickering porch light. It has been years since Ralph last picked up his guitar, but there he was riffing and improvising, playing his heart out. All our hearts.
PS. As I share this moment of pure joy, I can’t forget that others have suffered and lost loved ones this Christmas season and during the past year. May they (and all of us) find peace, consolation and new beginnings in 2016.