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We had two young "men" (12 and 7) visit us yesterday, while their Mom worked at the Mizzou/Illinois "Bragging Rights" game. ("Mom"'s my birth daughter and works at U of I.)

It was a tough game to watch. MDH is a Mizzou alum, as is my younger son. I'm an Illinois grad. The Illini are no longer unbeaten<sigh>.

It was so cool to hear her two boys giggle and strategize while playing Risk and trying their hand at pool w/ my "boys" (21 & 26). It filled the house with life.

I made pizza for all w/ the youngest helping to knead the pizza dough. (His older brother read back issues of Consumers' Reports while this was going on.) Everybody got to top their pizza w/ the younger three going for cheese only.

Mom picked them up around 8:30 pm. We sent her off w/ three poinsettias my younger boy grew in his Plant Propagation class. She'll take them down to her adoptive father's place for their family to enjoy.

MDH spent this afternoon making mushroom soup from Lynn Rosseto Kasper's recipe, to use in a variation on the green bean casserole promoted by Campbell. He was muttering about the time it took. I "tactfully" reminded him that the Campbell's recipe took about 30 minutes of prep vs. 3 hours of prep/cooking mushroom soup from scratch. (I helped him mince the onion and shallots.)

Tomorrow we roast the ham (and slice it), blanch the green beans and assemble the green bean casserole, stop by Panera for fresh bread and set the table. If I have time on Monday, I'll make a mincemeat pie. At 9 pm we'll head down to Eliot Chapel (Unitarian) for a Christmas Eve candlelight service. (They have a wonderful choir!)

My brother and his family will be here at noon on Christmas Day. If we plan this right, we'll have everything cooked and/or warmed in the warming drawer (that we usually forget how to use in between holidays). Dessert is cherry and pumpkin pie w/ mincemeat pie for MDH. After that, my niece's husband and my two "boys" play a pool game or two. The rest of us may observe or we may play Scrabble, depending upon how energetic we are.

Winter Solstice/Christmas is just a great way to enjoy family.

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