FW: Christmas Update from Takoma Village
From: Sharon Villines (sharonvillinesprodigy.net)
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2000 08:56:26 -0700 (MST)
Sorry to those for whom this is a duplicate but since my Christmas letter
contains so much cohousing info, I thought a general audience might like to
read it. Shannah is my 31 year old daughter who responded when other
cohousers asked her what she thought about this strange thing her mother had
done, "This? This is nothing. The stuff she's done? Trust me this is
nothing."

----------
> To: Pass the Olives
> Subject: Christmas Update
> 
> The reason this is not later than it is is because I just realized that if I
> didn't get it out today, I would be into New Year's Celebrations and would
> never make it. This cohousing social whirl is really too much.
> 
> Shannah was here for Christmas, taking her first look at my new digs. She like
> everyone else was surprised that they were so beautiful. We are still a
> construction site so it's rough but the potential is obvious.
> 
> We started Christmas by washing chairs in the common house. The first time it
> has been used. Plaster dust everywhere. We had permission to use the space
> just for the holiday. The kitchen was filled with boxes and equipment draped
> in plastic. The sink had no faucets and many of the cupboards had no doors or
> no countertops. Only one bathroom was working but there was no light so
> whatever we were sitting on I hope was just plaster dust. Ann provided toilet
> paper. 
> 
> After washing the chairs and unpacking the tables, we made decorations using
> the trimmings from the temporary paper shades in our units, cranberries,
> popcorn, and paper chains. Adam (age 4) supervised Shannah while she cut the
> paper strips for the paper chains and cautioned us not to start making the
> chains until all the strips were cut. He obviously had a plan.
> 
> Adam also figured out where to hang all the candy canes since we didn't have a
> tree--along the window ledges. Alice was great at making bows for the two
> wreaths (Safeway was giving them away before they completely fell apart). I
> warned her that if she hung them inside she was responsible for cleaning up
> all the needles. But where to hang them?
> 
> Brilliant solution. The outdoor security lights weren't installed on the front
> of the common house yet so she used the electric wires hanging out of the wall
> to tie them up. The White House staff couldn't have done better.
> 
> Susan made elegant cranberry strings, alternating cranberries and popcorn to
> lovely effect. Ann was a purist and stuck to cranberries although she did
> experiment briefly with adding paper triangles. A visitor (Scott? Mark?) from
> the neighborhood figured out how to use Scotch tape to clean the plaster dust
> off the light shades and banisters to attach the paper chains so they looped
> over our heads.
> 
> The room was large enough that we were able to continue making a mess with all
> our paper scraps and popcorn while others gathered at a table across the way
> and ignored us while they carried on what appeared to be a proper
> conversation. They were drinking wine and politely cracking nuts.
> 
> Dinner was contributed by Alice who made a lovely vegetarian chili served with
> rice and salad. She did all this in Dennis C's kitchen because she is living
> in a borrowed room until her  unit is finished. We also had mulled cider, fake
> beer, and Alicia's cookies. She had been making cookies all day long, bringing
> them over a plate at a time--Toll house, ginger snaps, Russian tea, peanut
> butter--until we were stuffed and then she brought more.
> 
> Rory played the violin. We had an actual live music serenade from a lovely 8
> year old who has had either 10, 13 or 15 lessons. Amazing experience!
> 
> After Christmas Eve supper on lovely flowered paper plates (try that with
> chili) we discussed caroling for a goodly amount of time. It was very cold. We
> finally ventured out into the piazza 10 feet from the door. We warmed up with
> 2-3 carols where no one was home to hear us and that gave us the courage to
> stroll down the way to Alicia's where she gave us even more cookies (all of us
> complained loudly but it did no good). Then we hit Paul and Sue's where they
> were now confined to quarters with Rory who insisted on going back home to
> watch Christmas with Ninja Turtles or some such thing on television.
> 
> Peter had to catch the Metro to meet his daughter who was arriving and had no
> key--a good excuse for avoiding the really hard work of another chorus of
> Jingle Bells. Since we had planned to carol at the Metro anyway, we
> accompanied him over.
> 
> Caroling at the Metro had been planned to cheer the rush hour commuters
> returning from a hard day at work and get them into the spirit. We sang
> lustily in competition with the hip-hop and rap tapes being played at the
> tables outside the station where they were also selling incense. The three
> commuters who straggled out from the train paid no attention whatsoever to any
> of us. You see, we were not only one hour late for the peak of rush hour, it
> was Sunday and there was no rush hour. There were practically no trains.
> 
> By this time people were cold. Standing still in freezing weather is not a
> good idea, even when singing. But we soldiered on to the 4th Street Market
> where we gave more people the opportunity to ignore us. Although one little
> boy did come to the window and look out and one guy did sing along with us as
> he tilted down the street.
> 
> Finally Cindy, for whom this was a first and who had been having great
> difficulty with the words anyway (last name Cohen), said it was too cold and
> she was ready for hot chocolate. We were gravely disappointed to have the
> evening shut off so soon but we did the right thing. We escorted her back to
> the common house where Dennis, lo and behold, was not ready with the hot
> chocolate. Peter and Cindy went off to look for him while we continued an
> earlier theological discussion about the origins of the songs we had been
> singing. 
> 
> Jackie had provided the music sheets but she had left them on a door step and
> not shown up to actually sing. Since we were all sanitized Protestants or
> Jews, we had never seen some of the verses. The intricate description of the
> virgin womb and tongue twisting distinctions about the non-conception of the
> Holy King were highly suspicious. Having two good Unitarians in the group, we
> had handled it by reading ahead and signaling people when to skip the next
> verse.
> 
> When we had almost put ourselves to sleep over this (we decided that Jackie
> must have gotten hold of a Catholic songbook), Dennis showed up with the hot
> chocolate. You have to understand the history to really appreciate this feat.
> When it came time for caroling, we were all presented with an ultimatum (I
> take full responsibility for this brilliant strategy), either you carol or you
> clean up and make hot chocolate. Then I ran for the door.
> 
> Dennis M., of course, did not want to carol or clean up, so he quickly grasped
> the importance of hot chocolate. Someone cued him in that you start with milk
> and someone else donated chocolate. The reason he was late with it was that he
> actually looked up the recipe. He really had no idea how to make it. Well,
> even for hot chocolate, recipes sometimes work, and it was fabulous! He was
> very proud.
> 
> We all staggered home with the left over food and woke the next morning just
> in time to start over again. Christmas Dinner was supposed to be at 1:00 which
> I thought meant that people start gathering by 12:00--no such luck, I wasn't
> even there. 
> 
> But finally everything and everyone arrived. We properly stood around sipping
> wine until Paul found a knife to carve the turkey. When boxes are not
> unpacked, turkey-worthy knives are hard to come by. Putting the dinner
> together was an exercise in ingenuity. It was pot luck, delivered from our
> unit kitchens that were only in slightly better condition than the common
> house kitchen. The turkey was cooked in Sue's oven but she had only moved in
> the day before and had no idea if it even worked. Dennis' dessert, a lovely
> Greek dish that I wouldn't even begin to know how to spell, barely made the
> end of the meal because his oven cooked much more slowly than his previous
> ovens. (Probably because, being new, this one had a thermostat.)
> 
> The meal was fabulous with all the traditional Christmas dishes along with a
> ham because Ann was turkeyed out and garlic mashed potatoes because that is
> Dennis' specialty. Rory serenaded us again but this time he had found the
> balcony. We had 6 2-minute practice pieces played from on high by an angel.
> Who could ask for more.
> 
> I was ready to quit at that point but Ann insisted we follow through with the
> Trivial Pursuit Challenge. There is nothing like trivia to bring out the
> hidden secrets of people. Who knows what and who never heard of what and who
> can make wild out of nowhere guesses that turn out to be right. Dennis C. went
> off to re-heat the mulled cider and I wish I could remember at least the
> winning question, but I can't.
> 
> And now for the umpteenth time in the last month, the fire alarm is going off.
> Being a new up-to-code handicapped accessible project we all have fire alarms
> with flashing lights in our units. I don't think anyone knows how to turn then
> off. The goes on and on. So even if I could remember those trivial pursuit
> questions, you would not hear them because I'm vacating the premises until the
> construction workers stop triggering the alarms.
> 
> More later. I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday and will have more this
> weekend, Love and hugs,
> Sharon.
> 
> 

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