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“A Norman Rockwell Evening”

I just had a very Norman Rockwell evening. Warm food and Christmas carol singing and advent wreath making… it began with a church potluck down the road. The same church that every member of my family seems to have gone through…in birth, marriage, or death. It’s a place where everybody knows my name… like on the TV show Cheers but more wholesome.

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Grandma Pellegrini and I worked all afternoon on some roasted winter squash from the garden for the potluck. And I think it was a success. And then after we finished our church potluck we started the advent wreath making. There were all kinds of festive cuttings from people’s holly and fir trees.

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Quite an assortment.

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We dabbled in everything, my brother and I. We took it all very seriously. We tend to, it’s just our nature to be hard core when it comes to wreath making.

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He started by wiring the long pine-needled thing to a metal frame. (Isn’t my terminology elegant? I took a horticulture class in college and everything).

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He was very meticulous as he is with most things. I’m much more distracted and big picture. I collected more things while he fastened.

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And then we started to methodically place each bit of color into our frame…

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He found a white frosted pine cone. That was a big score.

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He persevered while I meandered off…(like I said, distracted, big picture…)

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I’ll be honest, there was a bit of healthy competition. His friend Travis at the neighboring table was also vying for “maker of the most glamorous wreath.”

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Others were a little less type-A about it… which is more in line with the advent spirit isn’t it…

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Grandma Pellegrini found this vine-like leaf (another fancy term I learned in college) which she really adored. That was her personal flair.

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This little guy played the drums on his head with the purple candle sticks. That was his personal flair.

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But back at our table, Gordon had the clippers out. He was getting serious.

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And after a few more snips… look what he produced!

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I think it really is a spectacular wreath. Not just because I held the holly. It has lovely proportions. It’s well balanced and elegant and colorful.

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Travis came over to inspect the competition and even he conceded it was indeed a very fine wreath. I was proud of my highly creative little punk brother.

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Now… for the caroling. I remember once long ago people used to actually come to our door and sing on winter evenings leading up to Christmas. Does that even happen anymore? Does anyone know? I hope it does, but I haven’t seen it for many years.

But we caroled on this night.

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This is Michael Shapiro, our lifelong neighbor. He is a masterful pianist. Masterful. At our Christmas party last year he sat at the piano and played the most beautiful sonata I had ever heard. My mouth was agape. And at the end I asked him what it was called and he said innocently, “Oh, I just made it up as I went along.” I’m still recovering.

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G.P. rocked the carols, what a sport.

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He and Travis reconciled over Joy to the World.

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The other G.P. sang also. She’s in the church choir, so she’s a regular.

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There is something about Christmas carols that instantly warm the spirit I think…

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Then the lights went out and the first candle on the first Sunday in advent was lit.

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And people passed the candle from one wreath to the next… until every one was lit and the room felt even warmer in spirit.

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And I decided that everyone could use a Norman Rockwell evening once in a while. It’s a healing thing.

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