The big city was cold and rainy on Christmas Eve, but that was fine with me because I was stuck at work until 5:30. But it was a fun day. Nobody worked very hard--we just sat around exchanging gifts and sharing stories. My closest office-mates include women from Guyana, Romania, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, and each shared a description of the special foods they were going to make to celebrate the holiday. My family always has clam chowder on Christmas Eve, so I was happy to find out that my dad made it, even though my family was not all together this year. After work I met up with some friends for Dominican food, which is prevalent in Washington Heights. It was amazing--there were seven of us and we ate chicken, pork, rice, beans, and plantains until we were stuffed and still had leftovers for $35 total. TOTAL!
Afterwards we headed over to Holly B's house, where we had a table full of desserts to eat, and a Christmas tree that she had just sort of stolen. What happened was: Holly went down the street to where the guy had been selling trees all season. It was rainy and cold, and nobody was there guarding the trees. So Holly picked one out, dawdled, looked around for someone to pay, and nobody appeared. She started shouting, "Hello? Anyone here? I want to buy a tree! I have money! I want to give someone money!" And she has a nice projectable voice, too. But nobody showed up, so she and the guy that was with her just decided to pick up the tree and take it home. The other problem was that she doesn't own a tree-stand, or decorations. So our Christmas Eve activity was propping the tree in the corner of the room and decorating it with homemade paper snowflakes and other random things. It's a huge tree, and it looks hysterical and more than a bit tragic, but it was fun.
Christmas morning, E and I headed back to Holly B's house for breakfast. After stuffing ourselves yet again, we came home and opened our presents. Yay! As soon as we were done opening everything, the doorbell rang, and it was the mailman with another package for us! I felt really sorry for the USPS guy who has to work on Christmas Day, but he got a kick out of me opening the door and shouting, "It's a Christmas miracle!" at him. Now maybe he will find the other box that my mom sent two weeks ago, but which has still not arrived... But I understand the postal confusion in Harlem. The 125th Street Post Office has been converted into a Winter Wonderland of ceramic figurines. Behind the tellers (or whatever they are called) is a huge shelf that I think is supposed to hold the packages that people are coming to pick up, but it is now covered with a village of ceramic houses, churches, town buildings, cotton snow, etc. There are literally hundreds of miniature ceramic buildings covering every inch of shelf-space. Quite magical, I admit, but perhaps a hindrance to the flow of holiday mail.
Anyway, it is a good Christmas in New York City. They are playing the yule log on TV, and I'm cooking up a poor-man's feast of homemade beef stew, cornbread, fruit salad, and pie. Maybe later E and I will play another game of Scrabble, and watch a movie. I hope everyone else out there had a good day. Merry Christmas!!!