Another Christmas has come and gone. Here’s a quick recap of this year’s celebrations.
Wendy and I flew to Denver on Dec 22nd. Wendy’s sister bought a house there this past year so her family decided to meet there for Christmas. We spent Wednesday through Friday there with plans to fly home on Christmas morning. The visit was mainly spent hanging out with family. We did a lot of laying around watching movies, shopping, and chatting with one another. As a Christmas gift to everyone, Wendy and I took the family to Buca Di Beppos on Thursday night. Most of them had never been there, so it was fun to share the experience with them. We opened gifts on Friday afternoon and shared a meal together.
The schedule Christmas morning was to fly back to Des Moines, arriving in time for Christmas with the Vander Well clan around 1 p.m. Mechanical problems forced numerous delays and, long story short, we didn’t get to the VWs until 5 p.m. By that time, we missed Taylor and Clayton (who were already off to the next of 3,567,923 celebrations). Everyone kind of had been hanging around to see us, so after a few hugs and a quick opening of our gifts (they had already exchanged earlier in the day) everyone left. We headed home for Pella.
Sunday (Dec 26th) was a great day. I played bass for both services that morning and Wendy came to the 11:00 service with Madison. Around mid-afternoon Taylor and Clayton arrived and we exchanged gifts. We then sat down to a wonderful dinner Wendy had prepared as a belated birthday dinner for Madison (who had the flu on her birthday). Salmon steaks, baked potatoes, homemade rolls, and Grandma VW’s marble cake for dessert. It was awesome. As usual with dinners at our house, we sat for a couple of hours and talked before the kids had to depart.
Simon Estes, Iowa's world-renowned bass-baritone, kicked off Tulip Time with a pair of concerts. Last night, Madison and the Pella High choir joined Estes in concert. Grandpa and Grandma came down to enjoy the concert. Estes, who is a famed performer in opera's around the world, was born in Centerville. He and his wife have returned to live in Iowa, and he is doing a series of "educational" concerts around the state to raise money for scholarships.
Estes was outstanding, singing a range of music from opera to broadway to spirituals. He was joined in the concert by local soprano Natalie Chamat, who was absolutely delightful. Pella's choir was equally outstanding and certainly held their own. The concert ended with Estes and Chamat joining the choir singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
As Madison prepares to graduate in a few weeks, she is winding down her high school choir career. Singing with Estes certainly ends things on a high note.
I had a bill to get in the mail last night. I thought I'd run it up to the post office right before the 5:00 deadline. I jumped in the car to drive the three blocks. I should have walked. It would have been faster.
The streets of Pella are getting blocked off. The food stands are being set in place. You can hear the music getting blasted from the town square as the PA system is tested. It is time, once again, for Pella Tulip Time. For the next four days we will welcome tens of thousands of visitors who come to eat goodies, watch the parades and see the tulips.
Well, what's left of the tulips. Early spring this year. Most of the tulips are gone. Enjoy Stemfest 2010. There's still plenty of food and the parades will run as scheduled! Oh, and the town is getting in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people Dutch dancing in wooden shoes!
Wendy and I live just a block from the square. Stop by and say "hi." Let me know if you need a place to park.