Sunday we went to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia to see, should I say to hear, Handel’s Messiah. Yannick Nezet-Seguin was the conductor, Philadelphia Orchestra. Diane thought we saw it with Vicky and Ted Dehne, probably decades ago. Yesterday afternoon was a memorable performance. Yannick is so energetic; a holiday elf; constantly in motion.
Most of the Westminister choir pieces were familiar. I tried to follow the story — birth, suffering, death, resurrection of Christ. When first performed in Dublin in 1742, it was controversial; Christ’s life a source of music entertainment, didn’t seem right! Now it’s traditional Christmas. We had dinner in Estia.
I decided that Monday would be the beginning of the season. Cold enough, in the 20s. I spent several hours writing Christmas cards. There are many choices today. Some don’t send cards. Then there is Facebook or email. Many families have a photograph card printed. For several years we designed a letter with photos from the year. I still enjoy just writing a personal card. As I work through the list, beginning alphabetically, Alonzo, Bonnema, Corley . . . . It’s an opportunity to remember and reflect on relatives and friends. I usually develop some standard lines but most cards have a personal touch; something about the recipients.
Our card list is between 40 or 50. We never send to friends and relatives we will see or talk with on the phone. Cards are for relatives we don’t communicate with regularly; friends we rarely see; former collegues; ghosts from our past. A decade or two ago I bought a photo album and mounted a selection of cards sent to us over the years. Who saves Christmas cards? It’s time to dig out the album.
I’ve brought up most of the boxes of decorations. For years they were in the “hard to access” attic. Last year Jenny suggested we put them in the basement. Much easier. This week we should buy a tree. Several years ago we discovered a Silver Tip fir at Terrain in Chester County. Imported from the Sierra Nevada mountains it was expensive but had a sparse branch configuration that we liked. Last year, no Silver Tip, Noble Firs were offered as an alternative. We’ll have to decide this year on a Terrain Noble or a more traditional Douglas Fir, Frazier Fir or other local variety. There are many places in Bucks we’ve bought/ cut in the past.
Christmas lights. Diane always laments our lack of outside lights. There were years when I strung up quite a few. And years when one string hung on the balcony. We do have nice door wreaths. Several to be used annually. Some of our indoor decorations are 50 years old. In the 1970s, Snipes nursery in Morrisville sold nice wooden German Christmas decorations. Each year we purchased something. A tree ornaments is purchased almost every year. We often tried to relate the ornament to some significant event from the year.
Gifts. I’ve ordered some theatre tickets and restaurant gift cards. But no real personal presents yet. It seems to get more difficult each year. Diane buys most gifts. But I like to be part of the process. Tomorrow I’ll begin to look online. I’d prefer buying from a local, at least Bucks or Philadelphia business, but online can generate ideas.
I think we’ll have Christmas dinner here. Kwaits, Diane’s brother, maybe my sister Liz will join us. I should cook/ bake something special. Still time to check cookbooks.
Christmas season has begun. Hopefully some nice snowfalls, walks in the cold, time for memories. A time for family, friends, and traditions.