My mom and I did indeed go to Mass on Christmas Eve - we went to a new (to us) church, St. Nicholas. It had been so long... but it was nice to sing the carols and take communion. It was less nice that I didn't know half of the responses, I blame this on an incomplete Sunday school education. Overall, the church is older and smaller than St. William, but more brightly lit and very full of people. My mom was wistful, saying that they had a more active youth group, and maybe if we'd joined there earlier, that my brother and I might have kept going to church. It made me feel a little sad inside, as if it was something that my brother and I hadn't been able to deliver on for her.
Christmas itself passed easily, especially with the addition of my four hour nap in the middle of the afternoon before helping prepare dinner. I cooked duck legs in a clay pot style. Aside from burning myself on the pot, and taking FOREVER (everyone was waiting!), the dish turned out great. My grandmother is still talking about it. My parents made a variety of other delicious foods including a New York loin. Our dinner was smaller this year without my mom's side of the family from Fremont, so it was just the 8 of us. We popped a bottle of champagne open, and finished up with tiramisu from La Patisserie.
On the day after Christmas, a bunch of us (mom, Robert, Julia, Chris, myself) hiked up Mission Peak. It was the first time I'd ever gone up when it was daylight for the entire time. We ended up leaving the parking lot at 9:30 and hitting the summit around 11. It was cold up there, with frost on the ground. We managed not to slip in the mud on the way up or down. Success! The view was spectacular.
^oh my! I embedded a photo! ;o)
We headed then to my Fremont family's house for more fun - their entire side of the family was visiting from New York and Portland, so there were like 8 kids between the ages of 1 and 15 running around. I remember when they were born, and soon a couple of them will be driving! One of the uncles hadn't seen me in 15 years, so he was shocked by me and my brother's size.
Later, I picked up Robert Chan and we went to Premier to attempt practicing together. It didn't work, since he's a champ latin dancer. We had some trouble.. but we showed each other our routines, and it was pretty fun over all to just watch each other practicing. Robert's gotten SO good; I can't wait to see his competition videos *nudge, Robert*
Yesterday, dance practice. I got there early, around 9:15. There was only one other person practicing when I got there. I love, LOVE the studio in early morning, with its empty chairs and dark mirrors. The sunlight slants softly in through the windows, and the air feels subdued, almost meditative. It's so unlike the evening, when it becomes almost festive with the number of people practicing and taking lessons. Then, the lights shine strongly, spilling onto the pavement outside.
We had our annual holiday tea in the evening - I think this was our 9th year. A few people came who hadn't been able to make it in the past couple of years, and we ended up having a good number of moms and "kids." We finally made just the right amount of food, and it was almost all eaten by the time everyone left. *sigh* So many wonderful people, and it seems we are all happy with the way our lives have been going. People like their jobs, are learning and feeling fulfilled. It also seems most people are contemplating going back to school now, or have already gone "back" to school for advanced degrees. Anne, Marshall and Alisa are just about done... we joked that they were the first of us to become real people. By that I mean, people who have found what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and are actually going to be working in that field.
Today is sunny and beautiful. My parents already departed to climb Black Mountain. I begged off in the name of writing and doing some other odds and ends of errands. So here I am, as always watching the morning light bouncing off this pine tree, the sky turning bluer and blue as I type. There's comfort in this repetition of seasons, of vistas, of easy change. I'm treasuring every moment.