Christmas was really all about family this year. It is every year, of course, but this year had some differences to it.
Most importantly, we met our new niece Boitumelo, pictured above in my arms displaying a new sweater on Christmas eve. (Also pictured is my other wonderful sister in law Linda.) Boitumelo (or "Itu" as she is rapidly becoming known) is from Lesotho and was adopted by my sister-in-law Doreen just before Thanksgiving. Doreen and Boitumelo's story is a lovely one. Doreen and her son Dash traveled to Lesotho about 18 months ago to visit a family she'd lived with while she did volunteer work when she was in college. They visited an orphanage while they were there, and at some point a woman passed Doreen this small, solemn girl who'd just arrived at the orphanage the day before with a severe and inexplicable wound on her face. Boitumelo tucked her head into Doreen's neck and clutched at her clothing as if she never wanted to let go. And that, says Doreen, was that. She had an immediate sense of recognition of her as her daughter, and set about there and then to adopt her. The path was a complicated one with lots of stops and starts, but we are all so delighted that the story had a happy ending ...
Or should I say, beginning.... Boitumelo has now had her first family-filled, American Christmas and she's learned all about Santa (too scary to get close to), opening presents (great fun), giving presents (tolerable) and eating raspberries (a totally favorite thing.) She is one strong, confident girl, as evidenced by her total acceptance of constant fawning by an entourage of 8 cousins who followed her and dangled toys in front of her to get her attention all evening long. We were all charmed by Boitumelo and her presence made for a very joyful holiday.
Although I was sad not to see my parents and siblings on Christmas day as we've done in past years, this year Roger and Caroline and I decided we needed a focused family Christmas. It was quite wonderful to get up on Christmas morning, open presents and linger over breakfast without the feeling that I'd best be getting something cooked or mixed or thawed or otherwise prepared! We set the rule that we would not turn on computers at all for the day -- Caroline and I adhered strictly to the rule, although Roger forgot and wandered off to google various things he needed to know. And it was so lovely that we decided to take a few more computerless days. Our friend Beth joined us for Christmas dinner (grilled shrimp, baked sweet potatoes, a raspberry jellow without which it is just not a holiday, artichokes, and the must-have family butter cookies for dessert.) Easy and perfect, especially since it was all accompanied by champagne.
We chatted, we worked on a jigsaw puzzle, we played the Beatles Rock Band (ah, sore guitar fingers -- a new Christmas injury) and generally had a grand time. Since the 25th, we've continued the trend with more jigsaw puzzling, game playing, napping, movie-watching, and lots and lots of reading.
So, we are enjoying this peaceful interlude. Tomorrow, I may start sewing something -- or maybe not. We are seeing out 2009 in a quiet way, and it feels just right.