Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Boxes

When I was growing up, our family went to midnight carol service every Christmas eve. My brother and I sat through the singing full of anticipation, because as soon as we got home, we would be allowed to open a single present before bed as our parents drank warm egg nog spiked with brandy and watched us with an amused indulgence I only understood after I had children.

This Christmas eve will not find us in church, though our minister is coming by our home this morning so that my husband, who is on the vestry, can co-sign some checks. The business of the world presses on. Later we will go to the store and lay in groceries, and my husband will cook a hearty soup that we will eat in bread bowls and serve to the friends of my children who are camped out in our living room. I love having them here, large boys, young men really, draped over my living room furniture watching a nightly Avatar marathon, they are up to the fire nation now, as giggling girls run down the hallway in a flurry of chatter and teenage heels and squeals. 

We put up a small table-top tree this year, thinking we might be elsewhere for the holidays. The presents climb in small towers around its branches. Boxes arrive at the door each day, gifts from cousins in other cities who are more organized. Our gifts to them will arrive after Christmas. They don't mind. They have come to enjoy the epilogue of presents arriving after all the brightly-colored wrapping paper has been cleared away. One last sweet echo of Christmas morning. 

Yesterday, my daughter made shortbread jam cookies, red velvet whoopie pies and chocolate caramel crumble and packed them in boxes to give as gifts. One of her friends came over to help her, a young man in her class with whom she shares a comedic repartee. For five hours they sifted and mixed and tested and tasted, finally laying out trays of treats for boxing. My daughter quickly assembled the first box for her friend, who was pushing up against the hour that he was expected home. My son and his best friend who is like my other son, who lives as much in our home as his own, lounged on the living room couches, impatient to sample the goods. My daughter made them wait until I got home from work. I was the first sampler and oh, it was good. Mouths full, the rest of the family made noises that expressed their agreement.

And then I helped my girl fill the boxes and tie red bows around them. Last night, she went out to dinner with her five closest friends, carrying a ribbon-tied box of Christmas treats for each one. They were meeting at a neighborhood diner, nothing fancy, though you couldn't have told from the way they got all gussied up. Oh, to be sixteen and seventeen. The boys, joined by another of their friends, went to a midnight Imax-3D showing of the movie Tron. Back home, my husband and I lay side by side in bed, chatting about everything, contented.


  1. Yes. And THIS is perfection. We ARE in the same club.

    Best and all good wishes and love too, from Lloyd where all my babies will be home tonight.

  2. Have a wonderful 2011 with lots of good gifts!
    Best wishes for you and your family!

  3. How I love having a home filled with the laughter and silliness of teenagers and as my youngest closes in on the tender age of 17, I am now filled with the bittersweetness of those days almost rushing to a close. But your beautiful words remind me that we are not finished with those days until we are finished, and so I will savor the next couple of years:) Being that we are Jewish, my daughters now disperse to the homes of their Christian friends and boyfriends on Christmas, enjoying the magic of the holiday as visitors. Mark and I enjoy the evening snuggled up with each other and our cats sort of missing the noise of regular days. You described life with teenagers so perfectly! And those lovely cookies made my mouth water:)

    But to be content...That is the most fantastic gift of all.

    Enjoy, dear Angella.

    Big hugs,

  4. Angella, This post is a Carol by itself. Thank you for writing the precious wonders of the moment, and all of us here wish you a very Merry Christmas. We each tasted the cookies but I alone was left with the little red velvet!!! Amazing!

  5. Ms. Moon, sweet, sweet dreams.

    Olga, thank you! I hope the coming year is all that you wish for, and then more.

    Debra, i so know what you mean about the bittersweetness of watching our babies come into their own. their wings are beautiful to behold, and it is thrilling to watch them fly, but we miss them, too. this is life, the holding close and the letting go. both at the same time. love to you.

    Isabella, i am so glad you got to enjoy the red velvet--and the girls singing late into the night! those cookies were made with pure love.