December 29, 2009
Of course, Christmas was different this year. Walter and I made efforts to ease the burden by threading the needle between re-creating all the Buenger Christmas traditions just the way Erin would have wanted them and avoiding Christmas altogether. On the whole we had a pleasant holiday. We did approximately the same thing as we do every Christmas, with some modifications to dull the things that were the most painful for various family members. At Walter's request we did not put out stockings this year. I found the Christmas CDs which Erin and I listened to incessantly between the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas day too much and opted for the holiday channel on the sat radio instead. We always have a nontraditional tree, usually a large yaupon. This year we brought the ficus in and decorated it.
We had a surprise visit from our nephew Matthew (in from Rotterdam) who couldn't make it to his intended destination Thursday evening because of the bad weather. It was a joy and a pleasure to have him share our church outing and some tamales before he headed back to Magnolia ahead of the worsening weather. After he left we opened family gifts with my mom, Kat, Annabelle, and Emma, and on Christmas day had a marvelous standing rib roast with my family and the Tjoelkers to share it. I think our gift giving was a little subdued this year, which was okay because it brought us in line with what was normal rather than playing out the theme of our (my) usual excessiveness.
One thing we did that we have worked on for several years, and perhaps mastered this year was the reduction of Christmas waste. By using fabric bags and reusable decorated boxes and baskets for almost all of the gifts, I can honestly claim that this was what we threw away after the family gift exchange:
One of the highlights of Christmas was choosing and delivering gifts for all of our young friends. This year Walter is serving as President of the Texas State Historical Association. Since most of Erin's friends are taking Texas history this year (as mandated by the state), we thought they might appreciate their own Texas Almanac, four pounds and 736 pages of fun. The first edition of the Texas Almanac was issued by The Galveston News in January 1857, only 12 years after it became a state. Now the TSHA publishes it. We ordered and delivered three dozen of these fine books and had a great deal of joy writing out the inscriptions to each one of Erin's special friends (and a few relatives as well).
Many of Erin's friends thought of us as well, and we received a variety of touching gifts from them (including some Bad Elf Ale which we haven't had a chance to try yet). I personally received the gift of more chocolate than I can eat alone (you can imagine what that mountain looks like. . .I took the privilege of taunting you by snapping a shot of some of the more interesting ones).
We (Walter, Davis, and I) decided not to waste the opportunity of having so many different kinds of chocolate in the house. We are conducting a chocolate tour and taste test over the next week or so. Every night after dinner we try a sample and rate it on five dimensions: sensory (how it looks and smells), sweetness, bitterness, smoothness, and resilience (how long the taste remains after swallowing). Last night we began the circuit with Lindor Truffles/Extra Dark , 60% coca chocolate shell with a smooth filling. Before tasting I read the package description aloud:
"Since 1845, our Master Chocolatiers have offered passion and meticulous craftmanship to create the finest chocolate . . . This delicious Lindt Chocolate Shell enrobes* an irresistibly smooth filling. Once you break the shell, the filling will start to melt, and so will you. 160 years of our passion all for that one moment of yours."
*my emphasis added.
I will let you know our assessment when we are done.