My wife and I had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with her father and her step-mother of filet mignons and baked potatoes. After some enjoyable discussion, we all turned in for a good night's sleep.
I woke on Christmas Day morning early enough to go for an 8:25 walk in the neighborhood. I spent two hours out. The below-freezing cold distracted me a it at first, despite an extra layer of clothing I had purchased at a dollar store upon our arrival the day before when the cold proved colder than I had expected. Still, I was soon warmed to the walk on a nearly windless day.
I saw a charming House Sparrow playing the part of one French Hen.
In the parking lot of a Hy-Vee grocery store in Prairie Village, Kansas, I saw a young Cooper's Hawk chasing a crow. Its goal was not to eat the crow but to grab food away from the crow. The hawk, unsuccessful in its effort, perched in a tree. I snapped its photo.
Two folks pulled up in automobiles to talk to me while I was in that parking lot.
One fellow asked me if I worked at the shopping center. I thought this was a polite way to ask "are you casing the area for some nefarious deed". I told him about the Cooper's Hawk and all was explained. The second fellow came up while I was looking at a flock of American Goldfinches foraging in a tree. He asked if I had seen the hawk,and upon learning that I had, he told me that the hawk perched near him. I confirmed for him the ID as a Cooper's Hawk and told him that the eye color meant it was an immature hawk. He told me how he watched it try to forage for a squirrel.
As I began my walk back to my wife's father's house, I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk. I made it back to my father-in-law's home, pleased with my two hour sojourn.
In the late morning my wife's parents, one sister, two nieces and one nephew all gathered for the kids to open presents. One ten year old niece got a much-desired doll. A seven-year-old nephew got much-desired tickets to a sports contest. We all had a good time.
In the mid-afternoon, we drove to Overland Park for a family gathering. I like my wife's family. We ate a fine meal of beef tenderloin, home-made Caesar salad and green beans with ham. I passed on the rice and mashed potatoes. We drove home in the early evening, where I had a slice of cherry pie for dessert.
I thought about how different holiday celebrations are in my in-laws' family than those by-gone celebrations of my own childhood. The Kansas celebrations feature more order and decorum, less gingerbread, fewer southern dishes, less salt, less starch, no Santa cookies, fewer gifts, less driving to see Christmas lights, and no emphasis on the all-important Christmas Eve. But though I am filled with nostalgia for the lost holidays of my childhood and now-departed parents and grandparents who made them happen, I like to live in the present.
I walked in Mission Hills just after daybreak in the misty cool weather. This morning we then had a grand breakfast of scrambled eggs, a slice of coffee cake, and ham. Then we went to Village Presbyterian Church, where my wife and I were married, to see the new ceiling in the sanctuary. Then my wife drove me to the airport. My wife is staying on for a day or two, but I was coming home. The weather when I left Kansas City was 7 degrees C. with snow arriving tomorrow or so. The weather in Dallas when I landed was 27 degrees C. with major thunderstorms moving in.
I was delighted to get home via Super Shuttle. My driver and I had a good talk about his imminent trip to a town I love, Hot Springs, Arkansas. I took Beatrice for a short walk curtailed a bit by rain. Then I went to Bethany Lakes Park and Oak Point Park and walked a bit. I stopped at CiCi's Pizza as a tornado warning issued.
I heard one of the staff say she was glad to be in a building because she lives in a mobile home. I finished my meal and headed home to hunker down with Bea. We are in the last warning stages now.
All told, it has been a grand Christmas. I am debating whether to hunker down tomorrow or to go see the Snow Geese at Hagerman.