As you know, many people from different cultures on various continents chose to celebrate the Christmas holiday on Christmas Eve. My first experience of that occurred in Paris '76 at the home of Carol LaBrie (whose birthday is today) and Uli Rose. After a wonderful dinner prepared by these master chefs, their babies, at the time, were allowed into the closed off living room, which was festooned with decorations, gifts and toys, and soon after the gleeful expressions of little David and Ruby. My next experience of the Christmas Eve celebration began in the home of our friend Paulo Mattos' parents in Rio de Janeiro, and continued for many years. There the tradition of a sumptuous Brazilian holiday meal, served to family and close friends, that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, became a way for Joe Steele and I to observe the holiday whenever there.
Accompanied by the ever beautiful, Deborah Thomas, we experienced the celebration on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the double commemoration of the holiday at the homes of our friends/family in Easthampton. Appropriately blanketed with mountains of snow, the settings could not have been more storybook-like, these beautifully designed homes had every tasteful interpretation of the season imaginable, all enhanced by meals that satiated ones eyes, as well as, stomachs.
John Rivers and Gavin Morrow had transformed their space to accommodate sixteen of us, who were already dear friends and family, into the warmest appreciation of the holiday that we have had in many years. The cocktails flowed as the delicious assortment of delectable foods tickled our souls, all amidst meeting and reconnecting with friends in the high spirit of the season. The only one missing was the lovely Genita Ingram, who stayed home with a cold.
The following evening was just as breath-taking in the beautiful home of Walter Allen and Brian Leister, where just the decorations were an inspiration, with a coordination of ornaments that had to have taken years to acquire. The delicious and festive meal was coordinated by the great cook Walter with the help of another chef, Julia Hotton, the noted artistic maven from the New York art scene, and her daughter, Tanya Hotton. With Barbara Lawrence on hand, the smiles abounded throughout the evening, as we shared a love for one another and the hopeful prospects for 2010.
It was nice to have had this time with our friends, without the usual pressures of the holidays, that entail gift exchanges that oftentimes miss the mark, and leave one feeling unsatisfied or unappreciated. All we gave one another were our smiles. We are so often consumed by the desire for and acquisition of the material things in life that we overlook the true currency of the soul, which are smiles given and smiles received. This form of currency cannot be taken to the bank, however, it is the only wealth that we can take with us when our time with these bodies are over. As we go forward into the new year, let's plan to make as large an investment into this spiritual fund as we do in our other pursuits.