A Memorable Last-Minute Christmas (A Lesson in Making Do)


As I wrote yesterday, our Christmas vacation plans were shattered at the last minute by the terrible weather in Europe. We were pretty upset, especially Ulla who hasn’t been home for Christmas in four years and really looked forward to it after a rough 2010. But in the end, things worked out amazingly well — and we both learned an important lesson about making do.
Early Friday afternoon, we ran out to the local VFW as I’d noticed the day before that they still had trees. We found a perfect little tree (from Nova Scotia no less) and got a discount price as it was so last-minute. We made hot chocolate, put on our favorite winter music (Sting’s “If On a Winter’s Night”), and in an hour had a beautiful little tree.
Then we took Cardigan to her favorite dog park for an hour of tearing around with many other pups while we chatted with the many nice folks who hang around there. Her energy sufficiently dissipated, she went soundly to sleep in her crate while I escorted Ulla to the nearest church so she could celebrate Christmas mass. Even though I’m not religious, I’ve always found it incredibly peaceful in a church at Christmas, with the subdued lighting, candles and the feeling of people celebrating together in harmony.
We decided that if we couldn’t celebrate Weihnachten in Germany, we could do the next best thing and recreate it in Medford. So the rest of Christmas Eve was spent having a three-course dinner, with present opening between courses. With German Christmas music playing, we opened a bottle of wine and started with a salad. The next course was cheese fondue, and we finished with chocolate fondue.
We read a German Christmas book we both love, and then watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which Ulla had never seen.
This morning it just got better. I had wanted to get some stocking stuffers for Ulla but neither of us wanted to deal with the crush of shoppers yesterday. But then we opened a box from the Desmond family this morning and they had sent us each a handknit stocking full stuffed with treats. And Ulla opened her presents from my dad (we do a draw in my family) and received three perfect items of clothing.
It’s been a fantastic couple of days of adapting, celebrating the season, and being grateful for what we have (each other, above all else). And it’s not over yet: in a couple of hours, we’ll be hiking through Middlesex Fells with four good friends and another dog, and then some other friends invited us to join them for Christmas dinner.
We are very blessed in so many ways. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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