Bring the fattened calf
The holiday season joyously reunites my family. Although Francis is not entirely a Prodigal Son, he is the one child who moved out of state to seek his fame and fortune. Having his Ph.D. from Cambridge specializing in Human Computer Interaction, he has found a fruitful niche among the computer conglomerates in Silicon Valley, California. He has purchased a modest half-million dollar home, (very much similar to the small ranch style homes priced in the $200,000s here, only with a miniscule yard.) He married an amazing woman who can drive and for whom his blindness is not an issue. They have a one of a kind three-year-old daughter who resembles her dad not only in facial features and height, but also in intelligence. She knows the order of the planets, and if she has 20 peas on her plate and eats 8, she has 12 left. She delights in taking art lessons, lithely moves her body in Gymboree, and is learning social skills in play groups.
Preparing for Francis’ arrival takes a lot of work. Being an advocate for letting dust live out its life where it lay, I spend the weeks before his arrival cleaning the usual spots, of course, but also those spots not generally covered in a regular cleaning; washing and waxing the cabinets, washing all of the walls so they look as clean as the day they were painted, cleaning under the soap dish in the bathtub, pulling out every speck of dust hiding under the radiators, and cleaning "his" bedroom so clean that it could be considered a sanitary room for a person undergoing a bone marrow transplant. I've added a rocking chair for his wife to read bedtime stories to his daughter. The flowery sheets are washed with "spring" fabric softener, giving them a sensational floral scent, perfect for a multi-sensory welcome. (Yes, sniff in the scent. It is a happy, welcome home scent!)
The decor of my home is generally early mishmash, but when Francis comes home, the walls are decorated with a multitude of photos of all of our children, hastily put together from photos from Facebook. (It is something I mean to do all year but never get around to doing.) The Christmas tree and house decorations are pulled from the bowels of the cellar, decorated and placed in traditional places; same candles in the windows as when Francis was a child, same tree, same decorations including the nativity scene that Francis enjoyed rearranging when he was a child. (He loved to put the donkey in the manger and lay the Wise Men down for a nap after their long hike.) All reminiscent of Christmases past.
Hubby, who is generally an excellent cook anyway, also prepares for the special visit. He makes seafood casserole, baked stuffed lobster, "stuffies,” prime rib (sorry fattened calf,) lasagna, and baked ham. For Christmas, we have a traditional turkey dinner, with Marie leading us in saying grace in sign language, joined in by all (except Francis' wife who has not yet caught up in communicating with Marie.) The week is a gastric feast like no other, and poundage is added to us all.
For this one week of Francis' visit, "normal" life is put aside for a week of conversation, a clean house, a joyful present exchange, and visits to nearby sights of interest, (sledding at Yawgoo Valley, the lights at LaSallette, the amazing number of Christmas decorated houses, the local breweries, (Francis’ and Hubby’s favorite,) and the wild, ravaging waves of the ocean. They get to wear winter clothing, and, if we are lucky, they will see a little snow.
Francis and his little family will be leaving the day after New Year’s and life will return to normal. I will miss him, and eagerly await his coming for the next holiday season.