December 23-25, 2021

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

treeMamo paints

Our Christmas always centers on December 23rd, because that was Marianne's mom's birthday (aka Mamo), and despite her two-year absence, we keep tradition. Of course, our tree was ready, dry but looking pretty good. Presents were wrapped, with the last ones being paintings done by Mamo in her 99th summer. One goes to Katinka, one to Gabby, and we'll hang the last two somewhere we can find wall space. We miss her.

arriveadd to presents.Gabby, Ava, and Sam arrived before noon on the 23rd. (Unfortunately, Mamal had to finish with dental clients needing to use up their annual insurance budget. It's his busiest time.) Their holiday drive had been wet, but uneventful.

After we got Christmas hugs out of the way, the travelers brought in their contributions to the gift pile under the tree.

girlsdrinksMarianne's sister Katinka visited for a quick exchange of colorful packages. Covid protocols kept the exchange outdoors, since her office had had a couple of cases recently. So far, Fresno has not yet seen the dramatic increase in Covid cases seen in big cities in the East, but all the reporting has made us particularly cautious. Better to just hang out inside with our little group and sip (non-alcoholic) wine.

Our plan for the day was eat, open presents, eat some more, play with presents, snack, and chit chat throughout. Part of the chit chat was a Zoom call with Brian, Jen , and Rich in Colorado. Part of the play was Ava playing the role of a doctor, examining and diagnosis her mom and Gigi. It was hilarious as the "doctor" rattled out all the medical jargon that she has heard on screens and in person. For at least an hour, she kept in character, only stopping when there was a snack break and the Colorado connection.

food Sam Ava

The whole day was as nice as we could have, some family close, and some connected as best we can. And nice memories of Magdalena floating in and out.

SeanRyanOn Friday, Christmas Eve, we had an early wake-up in order to connect with Geoff, Suzanne, Ryan, and Sean in Maryland. The boys opened our Christmas gifts and immediately got down to building and playing. This would have been more fun in person, of course, but Skype and Zoom will have to do for the foreseeable future. Maybe Christmas 2022?

byeAfter one more meal, the little California family was off on the return trip to the Bay Area. They would have another gathering with Mamal's family so there was no time to waste. Their next activity had been a Christmas Day drive up to their house in Truckee, but a blizzard was on its way. To not be stuck on the infamous Donner Pass, they caravaned with Mamal's brother, leaving at 3am, and arriving before Santa had completed his rounds! It's a good thing they are young.

(Interstate 80 did in fact close, with feet of blowing snow making the trip impossible. The storm continued through the weekend, including several hours where the Rahimi family needed to hunker down without electricity. Christmas 2021 will go down as an adventure.)

Boone'sMeanwhile, Marianne and I settled into a very quiet Christmas. Neighbors, the Boone family, added some music to the quiet in their traditional Christmas Eve serenade. Thanks.

For us, it was over far too quickly. On Christmas, we were already back into our normal distractions: art for Marianne and puzzles and screens for me.

On Sunday, the 26, we started a new chapter, but that will be a different story.

Stay safe.

John and Marianne

This is a link to all our Christmases since 1998.