Monday, December 30, 2013

So How Was Your Christmas?

A week ago today, we piled in the car and drove 12 hours to my hometown.  Our first family Christmas in my childhood home in 20 years of marriage, in part because my wife isn't serving a church so Christmas Eve is free from obligations.  I managed to run in to some old friends and distant family while back there, which is always nice.  Plus I saw or spoke to all my siblings; in fact, the only one I didn't see was my brother, and we had a nice phone conversation Monday evening.  My older sister and her daughters and my youngest sister and her (grown) children were at our parents on Christmas Day.  On Friday, we piled in the car again and drove to my oldest sister's house.  That late afternoon we went snowmobiling for the first time.  My nephew, old enough to be his cousins's parent (he's 36; my girls are 16 and 12), took them out first, then after I got the hang of it, I took each in turn.  Watching their faces while we rode, hearing them scream for joy - it was great.  My youngest sister and her son and daughter arrived a bit later and that evening and the next morning we had epic, Safford Family Uno games, invoking our late, lamented Aunt Joan who made Uno . . . well unique.  You had to be there; trying to explain to the younger generation was difficult.  You were dearly missed, though, Joan.  Her daughter, my cousin Claudia, was also missed; we mused on who sang "The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA" (it was Donna Fargo), a song popular one summer my sister and cousin spent much time together.

As my parents are, in my father's own words, ancient - at 92 and 89 he's not far wrong - it was nice to have one last Christmas at the old homestead, to have so much of the family gathered together, to have little sniping and grousing (there's always some with family), and to return home with warm feelings about the people and events.  You never know what things like this are going to bring, so the overall consensus that all involved had a good time, if too short, made this a great Christmas.  I'll always cherish being in the living room at my parents' house, in my usual spot, on Christmas morning, as my nephew passed out presents.  I think watching two of my sisters dancing to "Cherry Hill Park" by Billy Joe Royal is one my single favorite moments.  I found it on my phone after one of them mentioned it.  I hadn't heard the song in years and my sister took my phone and the two of them proceeded to have a great time embarrassing their children, and delighting their youngest brother.  We're all middle-aged farts now, but it's nice to remember when we were younger.

So that was my Christmas, 2013.  A year of transitions and changes and busyness and new realities ended with a week of family nostalgia that wasn't marred by over-exposure.  For that I'm grateful.  I'm also grateful for the two Adorno volumes, Essays on Music, and Philosophy of New Music, as well as the essay collection Music in Christian Worship.  Oh, I also bought Oliver Sacks's Musicophilia and Te Deum by Paul Westermeyer.  Lots of music reading ahead.

Hope your Christmas was peaceful and joyous.

Virtual Tin Cup

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