Texas Dec 25, 2017: Christmas

Mary Star of the Sea Church Jamaica Beach

Mon. Dec 25th Christmas Day finally here. We had planned this day since April. We started off with 9 am mass at Mary Star of the Sea, a small modern Catholic church built on stilts with a view of the beach. Again we had the same omnipresent  priest officiating. (His name is Father Orrin Halepeska. I Googled him). Fr. Orrin must have super powers and be able to travel at the speed of light or he has clones. The small church was full, but over half the congregation were visitors, as indicated by their raised hands. The small group of musicians did a good job, but their lead singer caused us to shudder and cringe a few times when her voice screeched out of the speaker near us over powering the guitars and piano with her version of Noel and Joy to the World.  But she was singing her heart out to praise the baby in the manger. Who are we to judge.

Watkins family; Joe, Ginger, Rebecca, Deloris, back: Carolyn, Steve and Corinne

We got to the Big House around 11 am. Deloris and Pete were already there and those present had already done their gift exchange. So we joined in and opened the gifts presented to us. We had two envelopes for Steve and Carolyn, the names we drew, and presented them.  Back in October when the name drawing took place it was suggested by Rebecca that we could donate money or purchase items for those struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico instead of buying things for each other. She even sent us a link to do this. So Joe and I did just that. Joe purchased a portable water purifier for Steve and I bought a propane gas camp stove for Carolyn, both items to be shipped to Puerto Rico. But it seems the others either did not get the memo or ignored it, because they actually brought physical gifts wrapped in paper. Note to self: Maybe we should revisit the name exchange thing, since our children seem to enjoy buying what they want for whoever they want and no longer wish to be restricted by “gift exchange rules”.   So Joe and I had fun opening the gifts that our children presented to us. I know what I got, but I am not sure who gave me what and also I cannot recall all the gifts Joe got, so I will not list any of them here, so as not to offend one or more of the gift givers.

I had brought with me a box of special items that from home to give out to our four children.  Last summer while cleaning out the guest bedroom closet, I became reacquainted with some of the keepsakes I had saved for many years: Scrapbooks of school work, awards, report cards, SAT tests, handmade cards and notes; baby books, with photos, and stories, baby hair, and hospital birth certificates; a Holly Hobby diary. A box of memories that I had barely looked at in over 20 years. I wanted to move these items into new homes, to those who might spend some time reconnecting with the child-student-teenager, they once were.  So I opened the box and handed out the books and watched as each face lit up with recognition. Rebecca read about little boys in her class; one who bothered her, one she kicked and one she liked. Corinne saw photos of Steve fat and naked, eating his toes. Pete enjoyed seeing a comic strip called “The Great Mouse Escapade” that Deloris had created in high school, depicting a group of mice who get one over on the clueless cat. Carolyn had access to the results of ACT test scores and several academic awards she had won. I’m glad I brought these items. It turned out to be good thing.

Deloris and Pete had brought the prepared food which was a plethora of appetizers, crackers, cheeses, dips, veggies, wings, and much more that I cannot recall.  When T and R Sr. arrived they brought a platter of tamales and some side dishes.  We had beer, wine and pop and several good desserts. A little later L arrived with A and M and her friend Prescott, who only stayed for a short time. So we had a house full of Watkins and Gs. We exchanged gifts with the Gs who gave us a bottle of wine and an Amazon Echo device. We gave them signed copies of Rebecca’s Poetry book, Sometimes in These Places that was just published in September and an original painting by Joe.

Deloris, Carolyn, A, and Rebecca singing “I Saw the Light”

I believe that Pete has the broadest range to his voice as he had some professional training in college. He can perform in almost any genre and in many instances his voice doesn’t seem to be even coming from him. Pete is modest, though, and does not take the mic very often, but when he performed Ground Control to Major Tom, I closed my eyes and felt like he was channeling David Bowe, and he blew us all away with his rendition of I’m Going Home, from Rocky Horror Picture Show.The party went into overdrive when the Karaoke machine was set up; a continuation of the last party, but with two new players, Becky and Harry. I won’t go into all the performances here, suffice it to say that we did have a good time. We found out that Harry has a very good voice. The first song he sang was Cat Stevens’ Moonshadow and later he did Barry Manilow’s Copa Cabana. He told us that he used to sing in a band when he was much younger. Joe and R Sr. sang Hank Williams’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and a little later, we were treated to the all girl’s ensemble (Deloris, Rebecca, Carolyn, L, A) singing another Hank Williams’ hit, I Saw the Light.
I believe that Pete has the broadest range to his voice as he had some professional training in college. He can perform in almost any genre and in many instances his voice doesn’t seem to be even coming from him. Pete is modest, though, and does not take the mic very often, but when he performed Ground Control to Major Tom, I closed my eyes and felt like he was channeling David Bowe, and he blew us all away with his rendition of I’m Going Home, from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The living area in the house is large, with open dining, kitchen and living room. So those who were sitting at the large dining table were still part of the audience.  Those in the kitchen talking were also included and those lounging on the sectional had front row seats.  Carolyn had brought several adult coloring books, some colored pencils and a book of drawing prompts. So while the singing and eating were going on, there were also at any given time, two or more persons bent over a page, drawing and coloring intently. I had fun with a prompt, “leather footwear” drawing a pair of skinny hairy legs standing in oversize cowboy boots.  After a few hours of Karaoke, the audience as well as performers began to dwindle. Groups of two and three left for short walks on the beach as the party wound down. R Sr. and T wanted to head out as they had another stop to make so we said our goodbyes. L and the children decided to spend the night, there was definitely enough room.  Carolyn said she’d take Steve and Corinne to the airport in the morning on her way back to Houston, thus saving us a trip north and $40 on kennel cost if we picked up the dogs after 11 am – checkout time, like a hotel. Joe and I said goodnight and headed back to our bedroom at the Calypso.

Read Previous Post Dec 21-24; Family
Read Next Post Dec 26-28; Goodbyes

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