Friday, December 27, 2013

Bonnie Boxing Day

In our family, the day after Christmas is celebrated as Boxing Day and yesterday four generations of family gathered at Jeanne and Dan's. Bonnie Boxing Day (click on this link for more info on Boxing Day)  is a tradition from our years in Aruba where December 25 and 26 were both company and island holidays. Absolutely everything closed down, stores, the post office, government offices and perhaps even the international cable office (I'll ask my brother John about that).  For two days folks went from house to house, trading gifts and drinking rum and egg nog.
At our house, Christmas was also the time to serve Gramma Della's plum pudding and foamy yellow sauce. We grew up with this rich steamed dark fruitcake, served with generous dollops of a warm yellow sauce made with sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. These days, the extended family assembles on Boxing Day, so that's when we serve pudding and sauce.
Several days ago Dad's chief caretaker told me, "Dean must go to the party. He can do it. He will be all right. He has talked about it for days and he will talk about it for days afterward." Catie drove him to and from his adult family home and she told me he talked about Mom the entire way. Doris is always on his mind, in his heart.
Dad was carried into the house by three 'strapping men', and then he sat smiling for at least an hour, delighted to see his great grandchildren, calling out 'Charlie Bean' to his eldest great grandchild and  pointing across the room to the youngest.
"Who is that?"
"Audrey"
"Oh, little Audrey," Dad said as Scott brought this bundle over to sit close to Dad.
When we sang carols, Dad broke into his own medley, beginning with 'A Bicycle Built For Two', immediately followed by 'School Days.'
'School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Reading and writing and 'rithmatic
All to the tune of a hickory stick.
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, 'I love you Joe'
When we were a couple of kids.'
Dad sings 'School Days' often. I think it reminds him of Mom. Whenever he sees her picture, he says, "Bless her heart."
Almost ready to unmold that pudding.
We served Mom's Christmas pudding, flaming with 150 proof rum. The pudding and the foamy yellow sauce were as good as always. Is there ever a year when the pudding and sauce are not wonderful, when they do not conjure up close to 100 years of this Thompson/Bain family and its offspring?
Hard to see, but the pudding is flaming.

Kate and I judge we have one more year before we must make another pudding, blending the last of this one into a new pudding. The blending of the last bit of the old into the new means that this particular pudding never, ever, ends.
A few years ago, Mary B made a recording of Mom recounting the family history of this pudding. This year she added Mom's narrative to photos of the last time we made pudding. Makes us all cry every time we watch it. When Dad heard Mom's voice and saw her stirring the pudding, he said again 'Bless her heart.' Mom's not gone, by a long shot. To all the family here in Seattle and Texas and North Carolina - remember you have a link from Mary B for 'Bama's Christmas Pudding' slide show.
Dad ate pudding and didn't choke. AChristmas miracle. His eyes were bright and they lit on one after the other of us. He was surrounded by his family.
The thrill of the gift exchange, watching the opening of each gift.
Caroline introduced us all to a gift exchange this year. Lulu Bell pulled the #1 card and selected a very large box which held a punch bowl fountain. The rules of this gift exchange allow every family member a turn to choose any gift wrapped or unwrapped. Lulu lost her fountain to a cousin, which meant she had to select yet another gift. At first Lulu was happy to be rid of the multi-tiered fountain, but within minutes, she longed for it back.
Dan's mom Ann and her husband Tom left with the hot dog grill.
Lulu did debate exchanging the fountain for a hot dog cooker - she does like hot dogs - but, in the moment, the fountain won over hot dogs. In a couple of weeks, it'll be used for her seventh birthday slumber party.
Mary maneuvered for a SET card game to take back to Portland. I have a small very bright light that clips on a book for reading in bed. Laura chose a ToyRUs gift certificate of which Audrey will most certainly be the beneficiary. A certain summer sausage Mary and Queta ordered from Iowa was perhaps the most coveted gift in the exchange. Jeanne initially tried to get Kelan to trade in his gift for the sausage, but Kelan was quick to say to his mom, "I'm not doing your dirty work." The sausage moved from person to person and Jeanne did indeed end up with it.
Dad chose a package with a book about Julia Child's cats. No doubt the print will be too small for him to read, so Caroline may inherit it. So went the first annual gift exchange. Thank you Caroline for bringing both caroling and a gift trade to our Bonnie Boxing Dad celebration.
Caroline and Charlie Bean
Mary B and Kate
Did I forget to mention all the good food folks brought? African peanut soup, lentil soup, potato salad, baked ham, gluten free rolls, brownies, gluten free chocolate pie and a steaming pot of tamales from Ballard Market. Know where those tamales come from? The label says Houston Texas. Good for Ballard Market for finding and importing them to the Great Northwest.
Conversation between Lulu and Lauren over the baked ham.
"I love ham," said Lulu, putting one slice after another on her plate. "Do you like ham?"
"No," said Lauren, "I'm not much of a carnivore." Lauren is 7 and Lulu is 6.
I knew that both cousins chose their Boxing Day outfits with care. Lulu arrived in a ankle length velveteen dress with metallic pumps from Harwin Drive. Lauren wore shiny stretchy black leggings with a new crocheted tunic, also from Harwin. However, within minutes of exchanging Christmas gifts, they were both wearing these sequined slips of dresses.
Lauren and Lulu share gifts - matching sequined dresses.
So, that was our Boxing Day. Finished the evening by playing one more game of SET. Kelan completed another complicated LEGO project and Dan left to go out with karaoke friends. After the kids went to bed Jeanne, Mary and I talked until late, late.
Bonnie Boxing Day to all.
Little Audrey.




This song was originally posted at:
http://bussongs.com/songs/school-days.ph

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