Within the Stable Cave

Be prepared, O Bethlehem; Eden opens now to all;

O Ephratha, ready make; for within the stable cave

from the Virgin Mary pure, the tree of life has blossomed forth.

For her womb is shown to be paradise in spirit

in which is the plant divine, from which having truly fed;

We will  live forevermore, and not die as Adam did.

Christ the Lord is born to raise the image that had fallen long before.

–troparion of the pre-feast of the nativity

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Christmas is here and we have settled into the slow moments of being together–right here. Our little home is tidied, the presents are wrapped, and my husband is smiling in the kitchen. The kids are filled with anticipation, and off to church tonight we go!

We’ve been fasting for 40 days and ready for a change.

Here’s what’s coming off the stove, and out of the oven tomorrow!

Breakfast: Green tea, hot coffee, orange juice whipped with a bit of cream. Chocolate chip scones and Scottish eggs.

Dinner: Beef tenderloin with pepper and parsley crust, ginger braised red cabbage, Brussel sprouts in brown butter and lemon, truffle cheese no-knead bread, polenta with pancetta, sweet and sour cippoline onions, with a bottle of Ridge/Lytton Springs 2008 Zinfandel.

Holy feasting!

Sending you all love, from our house to yours. May this season of love, peace, and giving fill your hearts with joy and thanksgiving.

And my prayers continue to speed toward those who are bathed in sorrow. May the light that shines from that stable cave, bring comfort and mercy…

Christ is Born!

It’s Christmas Eve. And Christ is almost born!

Yesterday I baked five loaves of bread, and headed out in the car to do a little elvish delivering. What fun. At each home I had the opportunity to stop and chat with friends who make our lives so much richer through their love. That kind of giving is so easy…

Today I decided to bake, but not to have a giving plan. I made three loaves of bread and once they were finished pondered the possibilities. I pondered while I cleaned the dishes, and pondered while I wrote a Christmas card or two…

And then came a knock at the door. Lucy and her daddy stopped by to deliver a plate of goodies. Lucy was so curious with this and that, we practically had a play date. We bounced from one room to the next, talking about everything. She’s five.

So, off went the first loaf of bread. With Lucy and her daddy.

The second loaf of bread (and the biggest)

headed straight up the hill to the fire station. John Ronan is particularly interested in making sure our firemen are happy and well fed, but I had to make the trip alone, since he is holed up in bed with a fever. We love to spoil our firemen. They’ve earned more than their keep saving homes in all the fires we’ve had these past five years here in Santa Barbara. I just love that they put wreaths on their fire trucks.

One loaf left. I thought about heading to one of the poorer neighborhoods to see what I might see. But on the way I drove by a friend’s house–a friend who is soon moving to Australia. I parked, and looked up at the door. I know she’s been out of town, and wasn’t sure if the house had been rented yet, so I tiptoed up the walk and rang the bell. I knew no one would answer; there were packages waiting on the stoop for someone to come home to. I glanced at the names on the packages and they were for my sweet friend, so surmised that she must be celebrating Christmas here… Yay. I left the loaf of bread by the door, without a note. I wonder if she’ll figure out that it’s from me. 🙂

So, that’s it.

Oh, that’s not it at all! With all my Christmas shopping done, and my husband tending the babe, I took a relaxing walk through the rose garden and down a few neighboring streets to show you what’s blooming here in December. We have flowers when you have snow.

Leptospermum, Mexican sage, poinsettias gone wild, birds of paradise, vinca, and roses framing the Mission. These are just some of the gifts that nature gives us in December here in Santa Barbara.

And here are few things blooming in our yard…

Pink and white camellias out front, one nasturtium trying to hide under the plum tree, new blossoms on the loquat, a fresh stem of kangaroo paws, one lone calla, and bright and forever blooming strawflowers. Gifts!

And speaking of gifts. The greatest gift of all came in the form of a baby. Christ, born for our salvation, brought peace and love to all mankind. And tonight we head to church, to sing and pray and greet one another with a holy kiss. And to partake of the holiest bread of all–Christ’s body, broken for us.

Merry Christmas Everyone…