joyful xmas

What a wonderful, peaceful, joyful  Christmas we have shared with our two families in our new home.   Love flowed around our celebrations like sparkling rose and we have survived the mayhem of three generations together with good cheer and red wine.

However, the “peace” of Christmas is yet to befall me because  I have cooked three ducks, a turkey with two stuffings, crusted a ham and a filleted Atlantic salmon for Christmas Eve, for Olivier’s traditional European celebration, Christmas Day lunch, the Aussie event and Boxing Day.  For the first time, I steamed a pudding, such is the allure of my new “French kitchen’’.

Olivier made his favourite French pate – pork rillette – with son-in-law Alain,  two of the sons – Tyson and Herve cooked prawns on the barbeque.  At the last minute, husband clipped small branches off the old, weeping Cyprus tree to make a simple table centrepiece with apple candles and red ribbon.  I forgot the bonbons until dessert – and one of  the ducks (cooked in the new oven) was not cooked when the barbecued “canard” was ready to serve.  There were thoughtful gifts galore with two chile plants (son Tyson and Vanessa) and a voucher for a Sunday breakfast at Stamps restaurant down the hill (Oli’s son Xavier and Patricia) being well-received.   Gift-giving is a delightful expression of Christmas and reflects the Christian meaning of the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.

However, the best thing about Christmas was the sheer pleasure of  sharing our gracious new retirement environment and beautiful instant garden with our adult children and grand-children. To bake cakes with grand-daughter, Josephine, to have all the bedrooms filled with adult children, to have to dodge remote-controlled toys in the hallway, to  be so filled with love on so many levels makes Christmas gatherings of families such joy.  The mayhem of many human beings thrust together in the one place to sit down and eat together and talk and laugh and joke.  The communal fetching and carrying to and fro to feed a crowd,  the all-hands approach of daughters and sons cleaning up after the feast while we retired to the lounge taking coffee and chocolates.  That camaraderie of Christmas is the sweetest gift. It builds family ties. It cannot be bought – it comes from the heart.

My most precious thing, though, is the card from my husband, so meaningful that I think I will frame it and hang it alongside his gift, yet to adorn our walls – “Feathers and Fins” a zany  acrylic on canvas by Cheryl Bridgart.





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