"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

christmas 2003

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 2, 2004 at 10:09 am

hope everyone had a good christmas…mine was relaxing, and busy, all at once, with some good times shared with the family…i worked up until 5 pm on christmas eve, so it wasn’t until i was back in brookhaven sipping some of mom’s signature wassail that i had time to really even think about getting in the christmas spirit…the parkers, don, robin, and becky and shannon all stopped by to share some christmas eve time with us before we headed over to my parent’s church for midnight mass…

the service was really the first chance i’d had to sit still and quiet for the first time in a couple of days and i was finally able to put work and shopping out of my mind and enjoy christmas for what it is…to that end the service did more for me spiritually than church usually does…this isn’t the place for my ideas of the pros/cons of organized religion, but all that aside it was good to sit in a dark little church lit only by candles and enjoy the age-old rites of the season…graham and i stopped in to have some wassail (which i’d been in charge of ‘fortifying’ and from all reports from the congregation, i did so nicely) in the fellowship hall then scurried home to throw on national lampoons christmas vacation which is our post-church christmas eve tradition…we never stay awake for the whole thing, but that’s part of the tradition too…

christmas day was pretty lazy since no other family was joining us…we didn’t open gifts until noon, and afterwards graham and i enjoyed sitting by the fire smoking pipes, drinking wine, and playing backgammon…which sounds high falutin’ until you know we were unshowered and still in our pajamas…christmas dinner was excellent as always…the ham was sweet and the rice dressing was as good as it ever was…all sorts of friends descended on 526 natchez that evening to hang out and get our drink on…it was good to see lucky, robin, jeff, emily, and danny, as well as to finally have the pleasure to meet chip, a brookhavenite a couple of years older than myself who now lives in cali…andy, patty, lee, and brad also made showings and i didn’t get to bed until way too late…

saturday morning saw the second phase of the christmas celebration…mom, dad, graham and i all piled in the car and headed down to new orleans for the weekend…we stayed at the fairmont, a beautiful and storied hotel just off canal street that spares no expense to decorate very lavishly for the holiday…i can actually remember, at 4 or 5 years old, mom taking me to breakfast in the revered ‘blue room’ when we had stayed a night there for dad to attend some medical meeting…

after we got all our bags settled in the room we hit the quarter in search of lunch…last year i was down with valley and peyton showing some of valley’s friends around the big easy and we’d found a neat little place near the french market called coop’s place…i was all fired up to find it again and actually had little trouble doing so…coop’s is an old school new orleans dive right in the middle of the touristy section of town, yet i’ve never been in there and seen it crowded…i talked to a local at the bar who now plans weddings in prague and claimed to come to coop’s for a shrimp po-boy even before he’d stopped in to see his family… after eating rabbit/sausage jambalaya at coop’s we went back to the fairmont, watched a little football then graham and i went to harrah’s…i’d never gotten to gamble with graham before so it was fun to get to play blackjack with him…i lost, he won, so we pretty much evened out the experience…

back at the hotel we had a drink in the bar while waiting for mom and dad to meet us for dinner…we ate at the palace cafe on canal street…it’s located in the space previously occupied by the werlein music store that mom and dad bought the sheet music for their wedding at, so it holds special significance for them and they eat there a lot when they’re in NO…the place was really bustling and it was nice to be in a big city for a change and to see so much going on around us…i’ve spent a lot of time in brookhaven the last 2 months and it was interesting to be more relaxed because so much more else was going on around me rather than because everything was moving so slow…graham and i both had filets for dinner and they were big and incredible…i always ask for my steaks ‘medium rare on the rare side’ and the palace cafe got it exactly right…warm all the through but bloody as all hell in the middle…

after dinner graham and i met some of his friends who attend wake and headed down to bourbon street…graham had never been to the tropical isle so we headed down to the far end of bourbon and got him his first hand grenade…having been drinking on and off all day it only took one to put us in that happy place so we ambled around bourbon street for a while, took a group picture in front of a strip club and headed back to the hotel…after one last drink in the nearly empty fairmont bar we headed to bed and had little trouble snoozing quickly…

the whole point of this NO adventure was to go the saints/cowboys game, the last one of the year as the saints aren’t in the playoffs (see last week’s post)…i slept pretty late so once i was up and showered we were already heading out the door for the superdome…i’d never walked to the superdome from canal street and it was a pleasant little trek…we got to see city hall and the clerk’s office, where dad once stole planted tulips for mom…with the cowboys being the closest team to the saints geographically, the superdome was packed…we regularly hypothesized on how nuts the place is going to be when the sugar bowl goes down…while we were in the upper level we weren’t very high off the field and were right on the 40 yard line so we had great seats for the game…part of our christmas ended up being the saints pulling out a win and playing fairly well, which i count as a gift as that doesn’t happen incredibly often….it was a good game to watch and i really liked the superdome’s new grass-like turf…it looks much better and should add a few years to some player’s careers…

tired but excited after the win we headed home with one last stop to cap off our visit…a long standing tradition is to grab a cheeseburger with onions and hickory sauce at bud’s broiler, a dining establishment on par with the old cherokee in terms of grease induced ambiance that mom and dad have visited since they both lived in new orleans back in the early 70’s…the burger did not disappoint, and we headed north with our stomachs full and happy that we could enjoy our first complete family vacation in a couple of years…

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