Gathering Graces 12/24/2017

*It could not have been a lovelier Christmas Eve. I think because it was so lovely, it was a tribute to Mom, and the spirit she left with all of us. Mom loved Christmas, and this time of year, and we couldn’t have honored her better than the way we gathered together to celebrate today. Being surrounded by the love of my family today helped ease the pain of Mom not being with us. It was a very healing.
*The morning began with church, and Zoe, Cosette and I sang a beautiful Austrian Christmas song called Still, Still, Still during the church service, with Paul playing his guitar. What a blessing to sing with Zoe and Cosette. It doesn’t happen that often anymore, so when it does, I am truly thankful and blessed.
*After a beautiful service and message, we returned home. Molly and Travis were in the kitchen starting their preparations for making two appetizers for our Cuban feast tonight. Our Christmas Eve tradition is choosing a different country and making food from that country and talking about their traditions.
*Later in the day I shared a bit about the Cuban Christmas traditions. In 1962, Cuba became an atheist nation, and Christmas was removed from the holiday calendar in 1969. The holiday was restored in 1997 in honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II. It made me realize how blessed we are here to be able to celebrate Christmas each year. Christmas is such an important part of my family tradition and culture, that to all of a sudden have it removed and not be able to celebrate it would be strange. It wouldn’t change my belief or my faith in any way, but it would change things. I will continue to enjoy and be blessed by the fact I can celebrate Christmas, anyone in our country can celebrate at this time, in whatever way they choose.
*The kitchen was a flurry of activity all day. Molly and Travis creating appetizers. Me roasting the pork. Cosette making Avocado Salad. Paul perfecting his drink making skills. It was wonderful.
*My friend Christina and her niece Eva stopped by to visit Archie. They brought him a toy, and got to spend some time watching him run, run, run around the backyard. It was nice to see Tina and visit a bit. Then they were off. Tina was heading to her daughter’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.
*As Tina was leaving, Jane showed up bearing some appetizers for our Cuban feast, and gifts for us all. She was unable to be with us, but she said she would make something anyway. The croquetas de jamon were delicious!
*Family members began arriving around 3 p.m. Christy and Everett arrived, and we enjoyed the Garlic Plantain Chips, Crab Empanadas and the Croquetas de Jamon. Paul was taking orders for Mojitos and Cuba Libres. Bill and Debbie arrived closer to 3:30. It is not only Christmas Eve for them, but they also were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. We continued enjoying our appetizers and drinks, and having a good time visiting. I shared about Cuban Christmas traditions.
*A while later the table was laden with our Cuban feast, and we each found our assigned place and gathered around the table. Paul asked a blessing on the meal and all those gathered around the table. The food was absolutely delicious. The menu included Roasted Pork with Mojo, Gloria’s Black Bean Soup, Yellow Rice, Cuban Bread, Avocado Salad, Grilled Vegetable Salad with Cuban Mojo, and Turron de Coco for dessert.
*After dinner we left the table and gathered back in the living room. Paul had recently purchased an Amazon Dot for his birthday, and we played some games with “Alexa”. Then Zoe brought out some cards from our game Anybody’s Guess and asked us questions from the cards. Paul brought out his guitar, and we sang some Christmas songs, and Debbie also shared a few folk-type Christmas songs she knew. Christy and Everett were the first to depart our lovely gathering, then around 9 p.m. Bill and Debbie headed out. Paul and I enjoyed more time with our family before some did last minute wrapping of gifts and headed off to bed.
*I spent a little time last night in the living room with the lights off, and only the glow of the Christmas tree lighting the living room. It was very peaceful, and a wonderful time to sit and reflect on what an absolutely wonderful day it had been. We truly had Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men in our house today. Thank you, Lord, for the true spirit of Christmas permeating throughout our festivities today.

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