So here it is, days before Christmas 2020. Steve and I and Hamish are cozy in our little motorhome on the Gulf of Mexico. Rockport, Texas is a beautiful location for us during the cold season. We have made new friends here, and even some of our old friends have made their way down to Rockport. We fill our time with trips to the beach and the golf course.
I have an 18 inch Christmas tree on the dash of our motorhome. I leave it plugged in all day so that the fiber optic lights can cast a lovely, and ever-changing hue of blues and reds and greens and purples onto the curtains. I think this is referred to as ambiance.
I've tried a new oatmeal cookie recipe, and I have to admit that I think I actually place this new Christmas cookie favorite above the ever-treasured chocolate chip cookies. Honestly... I cannot believe I've even voiced that opinion!
Every day has been filled with Hallmark movies. You know the ones... girl, boy, random child and dog and some sort of predictable confict that ALWAYS resolves itself into a lovely moment at the end. Ahhh... good for the soul.
Our plans changed from a trip to Kansas to stay with family and enjoy our usual traditions of Christmas eve service at the Episcopal church and a candlelight version of Silent Night. Christmas morning is always a large group of family and friends enjoying fresh grapefruit sections on red raspberry sherbert, a sausage ring with scrambled eggs, and gooey cinnamon rolls. After breakfast we do our traditional raucous gift exchange. It takes 2 or 3 large green garbage bags to capture the torn wrapping paper and ribbon. Children playing with new toys and adults opening the annual puzzle, followed with a few hands of Canasta. That's our usual Christmas.
But, like everyone else, Christmas is different. It is quiet.
I will admit that it has affected me in a way that brings to mind that I miss traditions. I did not write my usual Christmas cards this year. Not sure why, but my apologies to all my friends and acquaintances for this miss. Amazon has become my best friend for correspondence. So maybe I substituted saying hello to Amazon rather than mailing off all the cards. Maybe.
Christmas morning, Steve and I will open the 3 gray bags that we have received from one child (and yes, they are from Amazon). We'll enjoy our morning cup of coffee with oatmeal cookies. I'll walk Hamish. I'll look for another Hallmark movie, and our life will go on. But here's the thing, our lives will go on.
No doubt we have all been affected in many ways this year. Outcomes vary, but aren't we lucky to be living in a time when we can still reach out to each other? I'm writing a newsletter that may or may not be read anywhere on the globe and in just minutes after I post it (trying not to get a swelled head). I will email with my ex mother-in-law and father-in-law (too complicated to explain here), to wish them Merry Christmas. They are in their 90's and don't hear well, so now we use email. I will call my sister Vashti so I can speak with her and her immediate family and. yes, we will tippy-toe around the subject of politics. I'll find out if my bro-in-law likes the 3D puzzle of St. Basil's Cathedral, and if it is everything he wants in a good challenge. I'll call my sister Martha, who might actually be working at the local grocery store and thank her for the chocolate (I already peeked). I'll call both my kids to make sure they got everything they wanted and needed. And we'll call my m-in-law's nursing home to see if she likes the box of assorted treats we sent her. When it is all done, I will have enjoyed many good laughs and smiled countless times. I can connect by facetime. I can have a zoom meeting.
So Christmas will look and feel different, but I will still be able to reach out to family. And that is the tradition that keeps me whole; my family connections. I am now looking forward to Christmas morning and the long list of phone calls and emails that I will be making. Such fun!
I hope you can find a way to connect with family and friends. I have discovered that it isn't the in-person event built around the tree and church and music that give me satisfaction. It is the time I can spend with my family via any way possible that is my tradition. So next year, look for those Christmas cards! I'll be a terror at the post office with my bundles of cards.
From me and Steve and Hamish, to all of you I will wish you a Merry Christmas with friends and family in any way you can get that done. And if you happen to celebrate a different holiday, as some of my family does, I wish you a very Happy Holiday. Now go and find those phone numbers and figure out how to do a zoom meeting. Meet the challenge of 2020 and have some much deserved laughs.
Join Clan MacFarlane Worldwide on November 7th for our 2020 Fall Digital Gathering. The theme is Worldwide Celebrations: A Celebration of Light! We will be exploring how various cultures around the world celebrate Christmas, New Year and the Fall/Winter Seasons! Start time is 12:15 EST and a link will be made available on our website for our viewers to tune in!
Food Glorious Food! And a Call for Your Favorite Holiday Recipe
I will make no apologies for my love-affair with food. To know me is to understand that I have not missed too many meals. I learned from my own parents who used to say that they “ate their way across Europe.” They also told me to clean my plate. There was also the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”
I grew up with parents from the 20’s with 30’s habits of saving money. So, my mother had finessed the art of saving a dime. Dinner one night for a family of 6, would be pork chops. Leftovers the next night turned into biscuits and gravy. Tuna fish on toast was our substitute for Lobster Newburg. Waldorf salad was a can of fruit cocktail with a carefully added box of prepared Dream Whip.
Mother would insist that there was no difference between a Danish for breakfast and leftover cake or pie. When it was beastly cold in New Jersey, she would crank open a can of Bean ‘n Bacon soup to warm us up before we headed out to brave the walk to school.
I have horrible table manners if you watch me eat. I do chew with my mouth closed, and my left hand in my lap. I don’t let my elbows onto the table (well, almost never). But I eat at lightning speed. I blame this on my Navy boot camp experience where we were told we had 10 minutes and 10 minutes only to eat. My apologies to anyone joining me for lunch. I don’t talk much, just pick up the fork and get it done.
I’ve used donuts to count down the number of days I had left to graduate from same Navy boot camp. Those were the days when I was skinny as a rail and could afford the luxury of coffee and donuts.
I do not like what I term “art on plate.” This is the little dab of artfully placed bite of food that is listed as the main entrée. I want a fair-sized portion for a fair price.
I’ve eaten eel at a Japanese restaurant. Too sweet and oily for my liking, but I did it.
I’ve eaten escargot at a restaurant in Dallas. I would have eaten them in Spain, but just couldn’t work up the nerve. I finally ate them in Dallas as part of a dare. No taste, just a lot of butter and garlic.
I finally enjoyed my first bloody mary when my boss invited me to sit with him in first class and ordered one for me. I do believe we have some bloody mary mix in the refridgerator right now!
Alligator is a mild-flavored meat, and lamb can be really good or awful. My sister, Vashti, makes a splendid grilled leg of lamb. I’ve tried an Aunt’s oven-roasted leg of lamb and gagged my way past the taste of lanolin with a glass of wine.
I love gazpacho and have made an entire mess of my own kitchen making a batch from my own garden. There is a restaurant in Breckenridge that serves up a salsa that tastes exactly like the gazpacho I have grown to love.
I’ve had a meal at a University of Arkansas campus hotel that was so delicious, I threatened to pick up the plate and lick it clean. Instead, I opted to share my appreciation to the chef verbally.
I used to say that there isn’t a cookie out there I would not eat. However, if you ever stay at a Hilton Garden Inn and head to the large platter of cookies (which is always full for a reason), you will soon find that one cookie I will never eat again. Not so much a cookie as it is a tablet of sawdust with forbidden raisins in it.
I have eaten a white chocolate bread pudding flambe at the Hereford House restaurant in Kansas City that I can only describe as orgasmic. I really need a different descriptor, but you get the idea. One serving is best shared by 4.
Finally, a true confession: I am ashamed to admit I have eaten a bowl of turtle soup and enjoyed it. I left nothing in the bowl simply because it was delicious as well as very expensive.
So yes, this girl loves good food.
With all that shared with the reader, this leads me to the purpose of this Diaspora. I am working on the next issue of the Loch Sloy! and would like to publish recipes from our Clan MacFarlane for all of us to enjoy. I would really like holiday recipes, but anything you would like to proudly share would be appreciated.
I am looking for recipes no later than 1 December 2020, so I can get the issue out in a timely manner for the holidays. Please consider sending along a good recipe no matter where you are from. I am looking for Sandy’s Divinity and Michael Haine’s, guacamole. My kids really want me to share my Chinese Ginger Thins. I might just do that!
So, find that lovely recipe and email it directly to me for inclusion. Email me at
This I will eat!