I can't think of a better way to wish all of you every good thing of this season and the Merriest of Christmases than by cribbing the Eisenhowers' 1960 Christmas card. I'm especially entranced with the calligraphic interpretation of the dear lady's trademark bangs.
It's a fine, clear Christmas morning here at the Café. As Mr. Berlin wrote, "The sun is shining, the grass is green;/The orange and palm trees sway." If we're not particularly dreaming of a white Christmas ourselves, it's likely because I think our day will be more than sufficiently merry and bright right here, however tempting it might be to indulge in nostalgia for days gone by.
In a little while, I'll go wake up Mr. Muscato and the dog, and perhaps rather more delicately intimate to the just-arrived Miss Rheba (a trouper after twenty-odd hours in the air) that too much sleep only makes the jetlag worse. We'll have breakfast, open a gift or two, and then, I think, go investigate the beaches and give Koko a chance to bark at the waves, a favorite pastime. Dinner, later, at one of the grand hotels. We are very lucky.
And I suppose we will spend a moment, here and there, remembering. Christmas, freighted down as it is with expectations and associations, tradition and religion, excess and obligations, becomes a kind of milestone, a stopping place from which we can look back and see, like the illuminated tableaux pictured on Victorian glass slides or the lighted tableaux of department-store Christmas windows, bits and pieces of ourselves from earliest childhood on.
Here's the year that there was so much snow that all the cousins and relations spent the night; there's the first year you knew that Santa Claus was really Dad. On they march - the first Christmas away from home, feeling very grown-up and secretly homesick beyond belief; the year that there wasn't much of a Christmas, after two funerals; Christmas in New York, surrounded by friends that formed a new family; and now, these last years, Christmases that feel like home again, wherever we may end up being.
Maybe that's a sign that you really have grown up; when the Christmas that you make for yourself, whatever it may be, feels like home.