Thursday, December 26, 2013

Changing Holiday Traditions

Things change over the years. No longer does our family all get together at holidays. Instead, we rendezvous for grandchildren birthdays or summer activities or other occasions. And so, over the years, we have kept only one tradition: inviting friends for Christmas dinner... but usually not on Christmas Day. This year we had it two days before Christmas and did not decide and invite until the day before. Only a few friends could come on such late notice. But that meant we could all sit at the table for once, instead of smashed around our small living and dining rooms. Johnny took this photo of our holiday table... before we covered it with food.

The centerpiece is one of three wreaths I made the day before from what was left of the greens I'd cut for wreaths in November. I got sick before finishing the project so three wreath rings were unmade. I felt guilty for leaving Modoc Cypress and Mystery Pine cuttings unused, since I only have one tree of each big enough to steal branches from. Plus lots of rose hips were still waiting to brighten a wreath. Too late to give to anyone for Christmas decorations, one last-minute wreath became our centerpiece and the other two were hung on the goat barn. I will enjoy them until they dry up and turn brown.

Dinner guest Barbara Millikan created two little cork goats as ornaments (Nubians, of course). Here they are corraled inside the centerpiece wreath.

And here is our little group listening, after dinner, to Johnny reading his favorite Christmas story: cowboy poet Baxter Black's account of how the angel got on top of the Christmas tree.

 Quite a few people who received wreaths this year said they liked them better, even, than friend Jim's wreaths that we have bought and sent for many years. I am encouraged to start a new tradition of making and giving wreaths. Hopefully, I will not make a tradition of getting sick before I finish them.

Our new traditional Christmas wreaths...

On the front of the goat barn...

This one is backed with ponderosa pine, an experiment I will not repeat. Needles are much too long to tame.

On the side of the milk room...

I had to use up all those rose hips!

On Christmas Day last year we got together with birding friends on the coast for a restaurant meal and then birding. We did it again this year and all of us think it is a fine new tradition. We had wonderful weather. Sunshine! No wind! Good food and no dishes to wash! And lots of birds. Whales even spouted for us.

In the distance you can see what looks like two birds flying across the road above us, but there was only one. For some reason that I don't understand, periodically my camera says it is going to take a series of photos. "Hold the camera", it instructs. So I do. Somehow, the image that resulted this time shows the eagle both on a downstroke and an upstroke of its wings.


Here it is zoomed up. I swear there was only one bird.

The subadult Bald Eagle landed on a snag across the road where eagles often perch. Here are the eagle watchers.


 And the eagle...

 When the eagle watchers turned around and looked toward the ocean (at Short Beach, south of Cape Meares), we saw many spouts from whales moving south along the coastline. Of course, I did not capture a spout but, trust me, they were there.

 We motored on to Cape Meares and saw one of the resident Peregrine Falcons posing on a distant tree.

 By then, the sun was growing low on the horizon. What a beautiful day and a beautiful view from Cape Meares looking south toward Oceanside.

 Times and traditions change. Sometimes I am nostalgic for the days when our boys were small and excited about Christmas, when we spent the holidays with the boys' grandparents (or they with us). But they lived close by and our children live far away and are creating their own traditions. As we grow older it is nice to tone down the celebrations to manageable levels, where we can get the goats milked morning and night, barns cleaned, animals fed... and still enjoy holiday meals with friends and, of course, Oregon's beautiful outdoors... especially when the sun shines and no cold wind blows.

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