jayellebee's Blog

December 19, 2011

Herry Birgivingmas

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 9:14 pm
Tags: ,


The Brown Brothers

     Concerns about how often I’d get to enjoy my sons all in one place at the same time was a major issue when Ken and I moved 120-ish miles from Alamo to Nevada City.  My fears have proven to be well founded.  The guys seem to believe I now live in the equivalent of a foreign country — somewhere so far away, travel must involve time zones and jet lag. 

     Rather than getting together for every occasion that comes along, our family now compacts the festivities into rare, way-too-short visits that involve an overnight stay.  Hence our Herry Birgvingmas celebration this past December third and fourth. 

     What you need to know:

     1) Happy + Merry = Herry

     2) Birthday + Thanksgiving + Christmas = Birgivingmas 

     Birgivingmas was so successful, and is such fun to say, I expect we’ll repeat the event in coming years.  Many favorite holiday traditions were incorporated (like the fragrant Swedish Cardamom Bread recipe my grandmother prepared when I was a child, and our sons’ recent contribution to Christmas revelry, Jaegermeister).  Traditions we never liked anyway were ignored (like singing the Happy Birthday song off-key as melting candles make a mess of whipped frosting).  Gifts changed hands, dogs played, laughter filled the house, and I cried when the gang left.  What a great Birgivingmas!

     On December fifth, I began to wonder how to spend the rest of the month.  I mean, usually I’m maneuvering through a 5G tailspin — scouring catalogs for that unique, one-last something; scribbling, scratching out, and double-checking lists; and decking the halls —  right up to Christmas Eve.  This year the tree twinkled, the completed baking tempted, and used curling ribbon adorned the trash bin weeks before my normal deadline.  What to do with myself?

Father Christmas and friends

  Turns out December is a great month to have fun.  Who knew?  Nevada City’s annual Victorian Christmas celebration brings carolers, costumed street vendors and Santa to the historic heart of town.  On December 11th, brisk weather made creamy, hot chocolate all the tastier.  Crowds delivered a sense of community.  Walking from home to downtown took us through neighborhoods we’d never fully appreciated from the hurried confines of “Barnum,” my trusty PT Cruiser.  The event provided a good day for all.     

     The foothills abound with volunteer opportunities.  Since I’d already finished wrapping our  presents, I spent two mornings helping prepare Secret Santa packages for some of the less fortunate children living among us.  The week  leading up to December 16th evaporated as I joined the Lunch at the Crossroads kitchen crew (www.lunch-at-the-crossroads.com) preparing a free holiday feast for 145 hungry neighbors.  My feet and back ached as the last diner left, but my heart purred.

     Good friends joined Ken and me for supper one night.  We served Ken’s favorite meal: his grandmother Nona’s polenta and spicy beef stew.  Our elevation here in Nevada City doesn’t begin to compare with that of her native village in the Italian Alps, but the winter menu still warmed us all to the quick.

Polenta brings friends together

     Just as 2011 appeared to be ending with an air of grace, the fickle finger of fate made a less-than-polite gesture.  A friend of Ken’s “went missing.”  When the sheriff located him, everyone’s worst fears materialized.  The “young” man (isn’t age always relative?) had died suddenly, alone, of natural but unexpected causes.  His funeral brought together a standing room only assemblage of friends to mourn and offer what little comfort we could to the family.   His father addressed the crowd, calling on every ounce of the man’s legendary strength.  “Russ should be standing here,” his quivering voice intoned, “talking about me.  Not the other way around.” 

     I sat on the time-worn bench, in the chilly chapel, thinking of my own sons.  Berating myself for wishing I could be with “the boys” more often.  Vowing to cherish the Birgivingmas hours we share rather than selfishly craving more. 

    Herry Birgivingmas, everyone!



  1. So sorry for your loss of a dear friend. But what a wonderful new family tradition you’ve established. And now December can be a fun, relaxing month for you both! Love the photos! What a handsome family you have! Herry Birgivingmas
    to you! Liz

    Comment by Liz Koehler-Pentacoff — December 20, 2011 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  2. Beautiful Joanne – so close to my heart as I can relate to everything you said. Reminded me of the great times we had together on our walks. I miss you and wish you the best over the holidays and coming new year.

    Comment by nina bucchere — December 21, 2011 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for the update. Great picture of “the boys.” Have a merry happy holiday season!

    Comment by Donna — December 21, 2011 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  4. Tender and poignant, Joanne. The writing draws me into the scenes, and the scenes come together––build together––naturally, gently, and then the aha!

    Comment by Jean G — January 6, 2012 @ 4:04 am | Reply

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