Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
A Christmas card, sort of. We mailed our snail mail versions, but now need to record a diary entry, just like we have for a couple dozen years, from Shanghai to Fresno, with stops in between. For 2022, no airports were involved and that's both good and bad. The good is that we avoided one of the worst winter storms in memory, but the bad is that we could only see California family. Maybe 2023 we will be able to be more ambitious.
By tradition, Christmas starts for us on December 23rd, in Fresno, celebrating Magdalena's birthday. She would have been 103 and we all still miss her. Gabby, Ava, Sam, and Ruben joined us at the dining table we hardly ever get to use anymore. (Katinka and Henry were marking the day at Mamo's Monterey graveside.)
After too much spaghetti, meatballs, and sweet desserts, we moved on to opening presents. I think everyone left happy!
The next morning, Gigi made palacsinta, Hungarian crepes. Another tradition. The little family hung around until they had to leave for a Rahimi Christmas Eve gathering down in Los Gatos. Too soon,too short a visit, but another tradition.
Meanwhile, we were hearing from the Colorado Trotters: Jen, Brian, and Rich, and their Christmas travel odyssey. On the 22nd, they left home for the Denver airport and a Southwest Airlines flight to Washington, DC. Elliot, the storm of the century, made the plane an hour late, the pilot another half-hour later, and the cabin crew never showed. The family had to reset for a Christmas Day flight. That didn't work either, so, as I write this on the 26th, they are still in Colorado, trying to figure out a plan. Good luck.
The Monterey family had gathered and sent us some pictures to prove it. They had bigger elves than we did.
Having taken down our tree and many of the decorations, Marianne and I headed out on Christmas for our house-sitting assignment. Fresno and the Valley were foggy, but the Rahimi B&B and the South Bay were sunny. The house was empty and quiet. No kids. No dogs. They had all departed for the Tahoe house and real snow.
Marianne and I enjoyed leftover spaghetti for our Christmas meal. That sounds sadder than it was. After eating, we walked in the neighborhood and I tried to find the little bits of color that are around in a California winter.
With the quiet and color, my thoughts wandered to people less fortunate. Of course, the winter storm across much of America is making Christmas miserable for thousands, from upset travel, to damaged cars and homes, to injury and worse. Glad to be in California.
And then there is Ukraine. Russian rocket and drone attacks deprive millions of water, power, and heat. Tens of citizens are being killed daily, hundreds of soldiers as well. We keep eyes peeled for signs that our old rental apartment and owned home both still stand. And we keep our eyes and ears open for word more broadly of friends and acquaintances. No matter our American Christmas struggles, theirs are worse.
John and Marianne.