Dear Mom & Dad,
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Did everyone get there okay? I guess we picked a good Christmas to miss. It sounds like we may not have been able to get there even from Fort Smith with the icy roads. Are you all keeping warm? I guess you are burning lots of firewood.
It sure was good to talk to you all yesterday. The kids enjoyed it, too. Michael's parents had called a couple of hours before you did. It was cold and slick in Harrison, too. Dan & Alisa and Richie & Becky called a couple of hours after you did. That was a surprise. I didn't even know Michael had sent them our number. Steven pretends to talk to Papaw and Granny Lee on his toy phone now.
The weather here today is dreary, but warm. The kids played outside without needing their coats on this morning. I imagine it will rain tonight. December is usually the wettest month with rain generally every 4 or 5 days. It was much colder earlier in December and had even snowed enough in the mountains near here for people to ski, but it has all melted now. Michael told the kids we'd try to drive up through the mountains sometime when there is snow on them.
We had plenty of Christmas parties to keep us busy before Christmas. I went to three parties in 24 hours one weekend. I've about partied out. I spent so much time in the kitchen, but none of it was for us. It was all for these silly parties. I made up a batch of the refrigerator rolls again. This time they turned out nice and pretty and rose really big. I made the red velvet cake for another party. It turned out pretty, too, but I really had to baby it in my oven. On that recipe, you wrote down 2 teaspoons of cocoa. Are you sure it's not 2 tablespoons? I thought it was, and it didn't taste as chocolatey as I remembered it tasting. But it tasted fine with 2 teaspoons.
Don't worry about your package not getting here on time. All 4th class mail has been held up somewhere. Michael's mother mailed a package on 3 November and it still is not here. We did get a package from Diane and Brenda and Becky Newberry, but they were all sent 1st class. I've heard two explanations of why the 4th class mail is not here yet. One says it's all still in New York and they just haven't had room to send it yet because of all the 1st class mail. Another explanation is that all 4th class mail was shipped to Beirut first for all the servicemen there. Then when they get all of theirs delivered, they will send ours on back to Naples.
Whatever the reason, don't worry about it. The kids had plenty of Christmas presents to open. When yours does come it will be more exciting to the kids to get to open presents on another day. It may be here tomorrow or it may be a couple more weeks. Who knows?
As of about 20 December we had only received about 5 Christmas cards -- including yours. We had sent out about 75. That was really depressing. Then about the 21st we got 8 cards. Then the next day we got 7 and then 5 the next day. We'll probably still be getting cards all this week. I guess we had just better count on the mail being very unpredictable during the month of December from now on.
We celebrated Christmas on Saturday. We had been out late to a party on Friday night so even the kids slept late Saturday. They were so excited about the presents under the tree. Steven wanted to stop and play with each present in the beginning, but soon caught on that there were more things in the presents still under the tree. Angelique got her Barbie doll with a couple of changes of clothes and case for them, a couple of books, an umbrella she dearly loves, a spelling and counting wheel, and a few other odds 'n' ends. Steven got a big red fire engine, a school bus, helicopter, and several books and such.
Then we opened the presents from everyone else. Steven likes the puzzle that Brenda sent, and the Draw 'n' Glow thing she sent Angelique was a big hit. Angelique took it to church Sunday and even the adults had to play with it. Diane sent a couple of books and matching Sesame Street print corduroy outfits she had made for the kids with their names on them. I'm afraid Steven's isn't going to fit for more than a month or so, though. I guess I need to send her their current measurements. Becky sent them a video tape of some Mickey Mouse cartoons.
The best thing I got was a hand carved, hand painted ["Play It Again"] ANRI figure of a boy playing an organ. Angelique helped Michael pick it out. Anri's are made in Northern Italy, and I think they are much prettier than the German Hummels. I also got a couple of tiny crystal candle holders and some Capodimonte floral baskets. Angelique got me a Grecian vase -- a reproduction of an ancient one. Michael also got me a jogging suit which is very warm and some gold star earrings. Michael got a power saw, velour robe, globe music box, Christian Dior tie, velour shirt, a couple of guide books, European atlas, some laminated Italian money from Angelique and a screwdriver from Steven.
After we opened all of those we took the kids downstairs where Steven's little black pedal car and Angelique's 3-piece kitchen was set up. They were thrilled. Michael tried to get a picture of them coming down the stairs, but they were too excited to come down slowly enough. Also we had set up the cloth playhouse on its frame that we had gotten on the Italian economy. They have played and played and played down there.
I fixed a small, 8-pound turkey for dinner. It was 2:00 PM before we ate. The kids took a good long nap that afternoon. Our landlord and all his family came over while they were napping. They brought us our Christmas pizza, bread, sausage and homemade wine. They finally asked if we drink wine. We said no, so they took it back. I was afraid they would be offended, but they invited us all over for dinner next Sunday the 1st of January, so I guess they weren't too offended.
I need a crash course in Italian before then. We are quite comical trying to communicate with our broken Italian. Their two daughters and son have had some English in school, but they weren't helping us much on Saturday. I fed them the rest of that red velvet cake that was left over from Friday night's party. They don't make cakes like that here in Italy, so they were really enthralled with it. Mrs. Capaldo wanted to know what was in it, so I proceeded to show and tell her most of the ingredients. Before they left we took a picture of them in front of our tree. It is so hard for us to communicate with them. Michael and I were exhausted by the time they left.
Sunday we got up and went to church. Michael preached and then taught the adult class. He was tired after that. We went to the Troop's Mess at the NATO base, which is near the church building, for lunch with some people from church. It made the whole holiday a little easier to celebrate on Saturday instead of Sunday. Sunday afternoon we all took a nap and the rest of the day was relaxing.
Today is an official holiday, but Michael is on duty at the hospital. I'm just grateful he was not on call Saturday or Sunday. So today I'm just doing laundry and entertaining the kids.
When Angelique watched the Thanksgiving tape she asked if they were having an earthquake when Bill was filming out at your lot. You made a similar comment later in the tape. So what's the latest with the housing situation? Are you buying or building? How's the market for selling these days? Are you going to list with a realtor? What's the current interest rate? Will it be hard to sell that house with the new zoning and upcoming pool hall?
I am including scraps of material from my curtains I got at the Caserta market. The solid white is in the dining room. The beige and blue is in our bedroom. It goes well with our bedspread. Now I need to find something with some yellow in it for Angelique's room.
Have you got your passports?!
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