Christmas 2001

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Alas, we had to relinquish our Amtrak private compartment at New York City. Our last leg was a pleasant 6-hour run in coach. Once aboard we watched as the train filled to capacity with holiday travelers. Linda and Steve were waiting on the platform as we stepped off the train in Rochester.

Steve and I spent the day thinking up ways to modify the 12-foot carpet tubes he’d collected. We’d about exhausted ideas when Cindy and Mike showed up, and Mike suggested a new variation that challenged us. That evening at Linda and Steve’s solstice party we hung each tube in turn from the 15-foot high pipe assembly Steve had installed over the fire pit and watched the towering column of flame consume each tube.

Traveling by train limits how much one can carry. We’d boarded at Palatka, a station that is not staffed and therefore, does not have a provision to check luggage. We were staying for a few weeks so clothing, and of course, our laptop filled our carryon travel bags. We’d come up without any Christmas presents. Off we went on a super-shopping spree. Having figured out what were going to get helped and in one day’s shopping we’d found all our items.

We kept watching and listening to weather forecasts expecting the worse. Buffalo received 7-feet of snow over a two-day period. Rochester, much to our relief, received just a dusting.

We melted into the lazy, cozy comfort at Debbie and Jeff’s home. At two Danielle has become the centerpiece for Christmas celebration. She’s just beginning to understand Christmas, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Cindy and Mike, Debbie and Jeff, and Ruth and I relaxed in the growing pile of Christmas wrappings and loved the fleeting moment.

It took some effort, but finally we found the site of the new world’s record we’d heard about when we were in Florida. There in front of us was the world’s largest display of Lincoln Logs. Being the first attempt at a record probably influenced its size. We gave it a 10 second glance and then went off to find lunch. We split up, Jeff, Debbie and Cindy headed back to work while we took Danielle and headed back home. In the process we ended up with the grand key mix up playing out it’s final scene when we arrived back at the house and realized we didn’t have a house key.

Once inside Strong Children’s Museum Danielle took off running as fast as her short little legs would take her from one exhibit to the next. Gramps, Grammy and Jeff got a real work out trying to keep up. It was amazing to watch our two-year-old hold her own in the mix of bigger kids as she went after the things that excited her. Her excitement was contagious, and we all had a wonderful time exploring.

After two long painful years our new bedroom, complete with snuggly plush robes and slippers, flannel sheets and a thick warm comforter overlooking a stunning view is complete. Its subtle comfort is difficult to describe. Knowing all the hard work Cindy and Mike put into its creation makes it all that more special. We were there for our first stay and for the first New Years Eve party at Cindy and Mike’s new home. Linda, Steve, Jody and Brian joined us to welcome in the new year.

In June it seemed like a good idea. Now as Steve and I regrouped after hitting an almost waist deep snowdrift we began to wonder. An alternate route got us to the far side of the pond, and there we struggled to get the wires into the frozen ground and pack snow to help support our inspiration. We slipped back into the house without attracting attention and wondered how long it would take for our house-warming present to be noticed.

Cindy’s morning routine is to get up and look out their bedroom window for deer. Seconds later she had the binoculars to confirm her first look at the newly arrived flock of very tacky pink flamingos.

Sometimes a picture says it all. Curled up on the great room floor Aunt Cindy cuddled Danielle on her lap and read from one of the books she’s collected for niece visits.

Everyone headed back to work. Jeff dropped us off at Amtrak on his way to work. The joy of being with family for the holidays was physically gone, but in our hearts forever.

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