Much like Joseph and Mary trekked through desert terrain to Joseph's birth place, Bethlehem, I made my own pilgrimage northward through arid desert, along the Salton Sea, and through the Imperial, San Fernando, San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys to the foothills of the Sierra Madre to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Welcome hugs, laughter and the excited chatter of my 6 year old granddaughter Claire greeted me upon my arrival. A few days later we celebrated our Thanksgiving traditions much as we have for many years previous. Tom Turkey was guest of honor, browned and moist and much appreciated. Twenty-one of us assembled around an extended table enjoying the day-- a day filled with mingling sweet scents from the kitchen that swirled throughout the house. We filled our tummies with mouth watering feast, and shared stories of our year with all.
For me, the return to Northern California has also meant getting back into the swirl of the ballroom dance floor! Waltz, tango, rumba, nightclub 2 step--or the occasional line dance or country two step--whatever the music style, my feet and body want to dance to it! Happy feet, happy heart! In San Felipe, I am no stranger to the dance floor at Juanito's Cantina, Jollymon, Parrots Cracker, Margarita House, Pavilion and La Palapa. San Felipe has an abundance of talented musicians, who create wonderful music. Wherever there is good music and room to dance, I am there! Christmas is Music and Dance!
The holiday whirl has begun!! Stores are packed, online shopping has been at a peak! Not a day has gone by without some package being delivered to my daughter and son-in-law's door step, with secrets and surprises awaiting inside, to be placed under the glittery and decorated tree-- waiting for that one moment, on Christmas morning in our household, when each box will be opened and discovered and revealed.
Sounds of carols hang in the air. Coats are shed as we come inside—thrown back on as we go outdoors. The pungent scent of wood burning in fireplaces—the sweet smells of pine filters through the room. The cat has found the Christmas tree makes a wonderful perch! Everyone joining in and decorating the tree and putting up decorations throughout the house--glitter and red sashes, candles and canes, twinkling lights! It's Christmas!
It is a wondrous time of the year! Magic and joy, festivals and celebrations, a time of reflection, of hurry, hustle and bustle. The rustle of wrapping paper, a time of excited secrets. A time when some become depressed and feel alone-- a time when families come together-- a time when friends reconnect--and a time when ovens are on overdrive, churning out cakes, cookies and sumptuous meals.
In the desert there are warm and sun-kissed days and cool but not cold nights. In the foothills, it is cold and crisp, or overcast skies. In Portland, a deluge of rain that floods the streets—on the East Coast, its bitterly cold, well below freezing. In Australia and New Zealand, it is summertime. It's Christmas! The anticipation of what is to come—the Advent of what will soon arrive. For some it will be the arrival of Santa or St Nick—for others it is the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus. Traditions! Festival of Lights—Festival of Santa Lucia—the Celebration of Our Lady Guadalupe. The hanging of the stockings, the lighting of a Menorah, or bringing out the Advent calendar. Shopping for gifts for the people we care about and love. Gifts we make, gifts we purchase, gifts of time and service we share with others. It's that time of year when various world religions and the secular world celebrate festivals together.