Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas, Arkansas Style

Mick and I hosted a wine and cheese holiday party at our office building on Monday afternoon. Nearly all of the other tenants came include a massage therapist, a lawyer, an economist/consultant, a graphic designer, and a guy who works for a company that owns cell phone towers. People brought their wives. We brought Leo.

I really enjoyed hearing about everybody's kids, their work, their holiday plans. People we meet in Arkansas seem to be charmed by the idea that we CHOSE to move to Little Rock. They are eager to help us enjoy living here and I gratefully collect all of their suggestions about places we should visit nearby, good restaurants in town, and other features of Little Rock.

One of my own favorite features of Little Rock is how quickly you can get out of it. When I drive out to visit Katie in Perryville, I pass the last traffic light on the West side of town, and then don't see another one for 35 miles. Instead, the road rolls up and down gentle hills past lakes, pine forests, and farm land. In a wink, you go from city traffic to countryside. I love it.

On Christmas eve morning, I drove out to Perryville to hang out with Katie and Honey, despite a driving rain storm. It had been raining extremely hard for about a day and a half. Everything was thoroughly soaked, and it was still raining HARD. Trees were standing in water to their knees, creeks were running fiercely on either side of the road, and Lake Maumelle was overtopping its parking lot. I have new all-weather tires on my car and I really enjoyed being able to get out into the dramatic weather to see what was happening in the countryside.

When I got to Katie's house, I found Katie and Honey sorting through baby clothes. Honey finds this kind of activity irresistible, and unless we give her a job of her own, she will quickly and gleefully undo whatever organizing Katie has done. I love watching how gently and adroitly Katie gets the job done while at the same time letting Honey participate. It's a joy to watch them in action together.

Speaking of joy: I have LOVED getting holiday cards and letters from our friends. You can't imagine how curious I am about all of you - how your kids are doing, how YOU are doing, what you are thinking about. PLEASE keep it up.

Cold weather followed the rain storms, and it snowed out in Perryville on Christmas Eve. We didn't get any snow here in Little Rock, but we did get the frigid temperatures. Brrrrr.

Our family gathered in our house on Christmas day. Here's a picture of the kids with Leo's new video game system. He showed Katie and Travis how to play a game called "Fat Princess" based on Capture the Flag only you have a princess to protect and you feed her cake to make her fat so the other team will have trouble carrying her off.

After fattening ourselves on lunch, we went to see the new Shirlock Holmes movie. Honey came along to her first movie experience and she did pretty well. Hopefully, folks sitting near us didn't mind her little toddler voice naming things that came on screen, like "Horse" and "Water."

Over dinner tonight, Leo and Mick and I were discussing friends, both here and in California. Leo asked us if we've met anyone here that we could call a friend yet, and that left us trying to decide what marks the boundary between acquaintances and true friends. Is it how long you've known them? Or how often you see them? Or what you do together?

What do you think? I'd love to know.

Happy Holidays!

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