Yesterday was a quiet day. I made two cranberry dishes, good keepers, for Christmas. The last three years, I have not baked cookies for Christmas. My youngest son and daughter have taken over that task, and it had become a task more than a joy. It was good to let it go and enables me to slow down a bit, and take in the season leisurely. Kind of checking through the cookbooks to think about something different and festive to make for the holidays; polishing up the house for company in stages.
An old friend dropped by for a chat and a glass of wine. Bert is a Vietnam Vet who almost didn’t make it. Still, he claims, he’s suffered more from a car accident 25 years ago than the war. Bert is a prankster and once put up highway survey stakes across our orchard and caused my husband to think the county was cutting across our property for a new road! He loved watching George “hit the ceiling.”
Last night, with my new leisure, I came upon a PBS program I’d never seen before called Lidia Celebrates America. It’s a food show and I came away a fan. I looked up the program on-line and Voila! I can watch it on-line, if I so choose. I probably won’t, but I know I can. Somehow it is satisfying just knowing I have the option. I’m glad Christmas doesn’t happen all at once. We slide into Christmas a bit each day. Getting out the lights and decorating. Attending a party or two. Donating to the food bank and wrapping a present for a child in need. Sending cards and letters, catching up with old friends I don’t see much anymore.
Murphys puts on a free Christmas dinner every year for anyone who wishes to attend. All are welcome. They are expecting a bigger than usual crowd this year. I know the city of Pleasanton has a free Thanksgiving dinner every year and The Little Red Church in Sonora feeds people one free meal every day. We’ve come a long way since the days of the work houses and poor houses. It wasn’t that long ago that poor houses existed. Orphanages were full. My own great-grandfather had to take his children to an orphanage when his wife died because he couldn’t take care of them and work too. He eventually found a wife and was able to get them back. Before I was born, a baby was left on my Grandmother’s doorstep because someone chose a family for a child they couldn’t take care of. They were hard times. And I sometimes marvel that coming from a hardscrabble background, I’m affluent, I know no hunger, and I have leisure and choices. Would that it were true for everyone.
We must not lose the American dream that changed us and the world for the better.