Wednesday, December 26, 2001 9:23 AM

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to everyone! Oddly enough I've been so busy there's been no time to get on the computer... Friday night we christened our brand new/half finished fireplace by making its inaugaral fire and having a picnic dinner in front of it on the floor (no furniture yet just beanbag chairs) and listening to Christmas carols. When I got home from work, Paul had lit candles positively everywhere.... and he rigged up something nifty on iTunes where he shuffles up our Christmas music, so we have a good mix; everything from "Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey" to Placido Domingo. After we cleaned everything up Paul pointed out that it was the winter solstice, which seems an auspicious time to have a first fire. And for the very first time, I have a stocking hung by the chimney with care! Christmas Eve was spent making another fire and having Paul's family over for calamari and pasta. It's the same dinner every year, except this year's was bittersweet because his Nana usually does the cooking, and she makes her macaroni from scratch! We really missed her. Later on that night we went to mass; Paul and I sang our duet that we've sung every single Christmas Eve since we've met (back when we were dating and nobody even knew it!... so that's been about 7 years now). After mass, a man came up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss and said, "That song you and your husband sing is our favorite... we look forward to hearing you sing that every year." How sweet! We drove home through a section of town where everyone does luminaries (just like my street growing up) and went home to finish up some last-minute preparations. Yesterday (Christmas) we made another fire, got the bacon going, and did our presents in the bean bag chairs and blankets... then we all visited Nana in the nursing home and it was so hard to leave her. You knew she wanted to come back with us, but at this point she just isn't strong enough. Dinner was at my parents and it always works out wonderfully that Paul's whole family and mine can celebrate together. My brother and his wife and Joey were at his other Grandma's, but Mary was there from AZ so that was a happy treat. A sample of dinner: rice balls, pepperoni bread, marvelous antipasto, stuffed mushrooms, sausage rolls, homemade manicotti, a ham, sweet potatoes... (boy, do I have some marvelous leftovers!) Mary's friends kept dropping by and cracking us up; and Mom did her best to feed them despite their protests that they still had to eat at home. (That's an Italian grandma for you!) My sister made us a family cookbook of our special recipies and Mom made a great tape of about 8 Christmas specials since we don't have cable. It was a thoughtful and very creative Christmas! When we got home it was more Christmas specials and another fire... And today? I have a date with the library! I plan to spend at least part of the day sitting in front of the fire and reading my new SARK book (thanks, Carole!) and some library acquisitions; hopefully doing some painting too. And yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas card; it should be up this week. :) linkage: My workplace Christmas bowling party pics are up (that's me in the PRI sweatshirt)

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