The first weekend in December can only be described as rainy, windy, and cold. I admit to imbibing in some wine to fight off the frigid temperature, it got down in the fifties (I’m a California girl, I barely own a coat, and like to wear flip flops year-round), and to me it was bone chilling. I want to curl up on the couch, light a fire, and watch Christmas movies, but there is so much to do in December, and apparently I am incapable of simplifying my life.
This is the weekend of the annual Kono Tayee Holiday party, now before you get all worked up about your missing invitation, it is a private party, for residents only. There must be a hundred and forty houses that comprise the Kono Tayee subdivision, meaning “mountain point,” in the Pomo language. This three hundred acre property, in Lake County, was first developed by Captain Floyd, of San Francisco, for a family retreat in the 1870’s. I like to believe he loved this property as much as I do. Floyd built a spectacular mansion and harbor on the property. He also owned an orchard, across the lake, which helped supplement his meals, while in residence. The property was subdivided in the seventies, when my house was built, I also have a lemon tree, and feel rather blessed.
We enjoy attending the Kono Tayee Christmas party every year. I think this is our fifth and we are completely smitten with the community. There is a portion of the residents that live here year-round, the rest are vacation homes, with owners that come and go, with the seasons. The permanent residences are mostly retired people who had the good fortune of making Kono Tayee their last stop. There is a huge diversity of backgrounds among the permanents, from businessmen to plumbers, actors to engineers, real estate agents to casino dealers, librarians to wine makers, restaurant owners to those in the trades. I remember when I was new to the community, looking around at these welcoming strangers, and wanting to know more. This is a lively group, participation in the Christmas gift exchange is not optional, one year I came home with sexy lingerie (I’m not kidding). My Mom grabbed up some knitted slippers, she actually sat on them, so no one would steal them away. It’s absolute chaos. Through the years I have developed deeper relationships with many of the neighbors. I’m drawn in by their stories, their struggles, their families, and the way they are celebrating their twilight years. They have created a jewel of a community on this tiny Kono Tayee Peninsula.
I have to ask myself why do we participate in these crazy holiday rituals? Year after year, I find myself following the same routine, much of it involving traditional meals, extravagant gifts, and generous amounts of alcohol. If I could dream up the perfect celebration, for a world still laboring towards its own salvation, I think it would be radically different from our modern-day rituals. How do we rescue ourselves from overindulging on the material aspects of Christmas? I have no idea how to get off this runaway train but jumping, rolling, and landing might be my best option. From scripture, I understand God as generous, welcoming, compassionate, and one who longs for a deeper relationship with Her creation. “Life longing for itself,” says Kahlil Gibran. We are communal beings, but how do we perceive God’s grace, or presence, in the midst of daily life?
Last night, the family gathered for Sunday night dinner, at our home in Campbell. I unabashedly admit this is my favorite part of the week. The kids bring their significant others, their stories, their triumphs, and failures. We gather around the table, we fight, we talk, and we raze one another, but on a deeper level, we listen to the evolving story of each other. I love this more than I can explain. Last night we settled on the couches with our pizza, salad, and wine. I made them watch The Family Man, I watch it every year, and never tire of the story. It was dark, windy, and cold outside. The comfort of the family room was palatable (well at least to me). There is a scene at the end of the movie where Tea Leoni says, “maybe I was being naive, but I believed that we would grow old together in this house. That we’d spend holidays here and have our grandchildren come visit us here. I had this image of us, all grey and wrinkly, and me working in the garden and you re-painting the deck.” I cry every time I watch that scene. I’m crying now as I write. The kids might laugh at me, but when I look around the room, I understand my perception of God is most profoundly experienced, in the bedlam of daily life.
If you want to attend the Kono Tayee Christmas party next year, just let me know, I’m sure I can sneak you in.
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