Our innkeepers at the Morningstar Inn welcomed us and gave us all their news since we'd seen them in the summer. The place was beautifully decked out for the holidays, as you'd expect from an inn in the "Christmas City of the USA."
A cozy sitting room in the Morningstar Inn.
At my sister's well-decorated house, we spent the evening eating lasagna, watching football, playing with dogs, and catching up with my family. And unwrapping presents, of course. My dad had an enormous pile in spite of telling anyone who'd listen that he didn't want anything. After nearly a century of this, we're on to him. He happily unwrapped gifts he can use and enjoy, including a new amplified phone, a reading lamp, bed pillows, a blanket, candy, and lots more.
We celebrated two birthdays with two cakes. We had a big tray of kiffles, too. Because the Bethlehem Steel Company recruited workers from all over Europe (and Mexico) in the early 20th century, our city remains a melting pot with fabulous ethnic cuisines we all share. So we Italians love kiffles, an Eastern European pastry with walnut, apricot, or lekvar (prune, and very tasty) filling:
Kiffles, courtesy of The Kiffle Kitchen Bakery in Bath, PA,
where we get ours since we're now too lazy or busy
to spend hours rolling each piece of pastry dough paper-thin.
When my brother-in-law read aloud the latest forecast, it was clear we should return to Boston the next morning, instead of spending the day visiting family. All my relatives agreed we had to go — usually there's at least one skeptic who says, "Nah, we'll never get more than a dusting." I don't think they wanted to get rid of us; everyone has a healthy fear of slippery highways and unskilled drivers. My husband's family's celebration in Brooklyn, scheduled for today, was also canceled, as people decided to head home early, too.
We returned to the inn very late and found a plate of homemade cookies in our room. Those became breakfast — we left before their hot breakfast is served. The innkeepers sent us off with hot tea and Christmas bread for the road. I was sorry to leave; the inn is so charming and comfortable. I have persnickety tastes, but I admire everything about the place.
Traffic was light, with no snow between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. I sensed that the other cars, like us, were moving with a certain tension, determination, and extra speed, to get to their destinations before the storm hit. The snow began falling as we reached Sturbridge, and there were long waits in bottlenecks at tolls, ramps, and exits. The storm came into Boston with us; we were just in time.
Three cats were mildly pleased to see us; Wendy didn't appear until hours later. Their sitter had provided enormous amounts of kibble at breakfast, more than I'd give in two or three days. They can't make up their minds about him: he's a stranger, big and scary, but who can argue with his generosity?
My sister always gives our cats Christmas gifts, and Snalbert knocked over a heavy shopping bag of presents twice to get them. He has a good memory (or sense of smell). Madness and mess ensued.
Snalbert helpfully takes charge of the cats' presents.
Snalbert helpfully unwraps all the cats' presents.
Snalbert helpfully product-tests four catnip toys on behalf of the others.
Possum wrests a soggy catnip candy cane from Snalbert.
Since we've been home, we've done little but eat, sleep, relax, and enjoy our tree, cats, and presents. We'll frolic dutifully in the snow later. Until then, it's nice to be inside, watching it come down:
Possum watches birds in the snow.