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Home for Christmas - Pt.7 - Around the Christmas Tree
Christmas Eve around the Christmas tree
Christmas Eve, Don went to the hospital to give Renee a minute by minute account of the concert and made her very proud. They saw Patrick Gallagher together and he was optimistic that mother and baby would be able to go home ‘in a day or two’. Don went home after he and Renee had gazed several minutes at the baby through the nursery window.
The young doctor called Fleur and they had a long chat, Fleur going to her room for quiet and privacy. She was very thoughtful when she rejoined her family. Paul had to ask her twice if she wanted some tea before she heard him.
Leonie kept the Christmas CDs going through the day.
Don cleaned out the turkey, dried it and rubbed the juice of half a lemon and two teaspoons of salt into the cavity,. He then stuffed in a bunch of rosemary, half a lemon, and a few tops and bottoms of celery, rubbed melted butter all over the skin, covered the turkey and left it in the fridge ready to cook the next day. It would be taken out and brought to room temperature while the family went to Church. The stuffing would be cooked separately.
He would take some of the turkey to Renee after lunch tomorrow and stay with her for the rest of the day while the family would visit for a hour.
Fleur and Grandma prepared the potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and beans and artichokes and covered them ready for the next day. Madeleine and Leonie made the trifle in three big glass bowls and did not spare the sherry. The boys were asked to make a pot of tea and serve whoever asked for it, and to keep the sink clear, which meant, wash and put away whatever found its way there.
They stopped working for lunch, two large cheese souffles made by Grandma. Fleur then asked Grandma to go with her to the Johnson’s farm to give them a gift basket to thank them for their generous present of the tree. The Johnsons had a couple of guests, so they stopped a while to have a sherry and some fruit cake with them. Fleur brought them up to date with the baby’s news.
That night, content after a delicious dinner, the Easton household switched off the house lights and sat on the carpet around the Christmas tree with large mugs of cocoa and a tray of mixed cookies. Grandma chose the settee. Don put on some carols and they listened dreamily to the singers and desultorily sang along.
The quiet seemed to lay a spell, and reminiscences poured forth from them all; funny stories from their early years; stories about the families in France. Grandma was prevailed upon to tell about Renee’s and her siblings’ childhood, though she had told the same tales many times before. It’s amazing, thought Grandma, how they never tire of hearing about their parents.
'Twas the night before Christmas
They felt contentment and wellbeing. So they sat, the whole family, entranced by the power of Christmas. God was a large part of their lives, and this was the holy season of Advent, culminating in the celebration tomorrow of the birthday of God’s Son. They had much to be thankful for, not least of all, the health of the baby. It could have gone so wrong. Even the boys spoke quietly, not wanting to break the spell.
When there were a few minutes of silence, Fleur turned to her French family. ‘Grandma, Madeleine, Yves and Christian, thank you for coming to spend Christmas with us. It means so much to us that you’re here, especially with Mom being in hospital.'
‘Thank you, my love. Our homes in France are always ready for all of you, don’t forget. We look forward to having you there. Even in these modern times of rushing here and there, we always have time for family. Why don’t you all come over next Christmas?‘
This was received enthusiastically by all the children. ‘Oh, Daddy, can we?‘ pleaded Leonie.
‘We’ll see, honey.’
‘ And now, my dears, since we are going for early Mass, I for one am off to bed.’ Grandma rose up off the settee. Everyone got off the floor for her kisses, then collected cups and saucers and leftover cookies. The boys offered to wash up and finished the remaining cookies.
‘Good night, all.Sleep well.’
Don remained at the tree for a few minutes when the others had left. Then, sighing, he switched off the tree lights and went to bed as well.