For once, we were able to head for the homestead hills on Christmas Eve at an early hour as opposed to late in the evening, following a stint in retail hell. We arrived by 11 a.m. last Saturday just in time to help Keith's Dad Ken bottle up some of his homemade wine.
The process of doing this was fascinating to me and old hat to Keith as he grew up in this very house helping out with the bottling process. Our team effort consisted of this: I would sterilize the bottles, then give them to Ken to fill with his homemade wine....his latest being boysenberry wine. I would pick up the filled wines and give them to Keith who would cork them with this cocky-looking contraption. I would then place the foil tops on them and dunk the bottle tops in boiling water to seal them. Handmade labels would then be applied and so on. Our team effort resulted in several cases for holiday gifts.
Kim, Dave and the kids arrived later in the afternoon and after a sip of something called Adult Chocolate Milk, we settled in for the Christmas Eve tradition...the oyster soup enjoyed by generations of Winges; shared with Keith's grandparents. His grandfather, who hasn't been in the best of health, was clearly, almost shockingly more frail this year. It was a bit of a flashback of Dad's downhill slide for me watching him...only getting around on a walker, being doted on by Keith's grandmother. It was said that Grandpa hadn't been eating much lately, but like Dad with those garden tomatoes, Grandpa's appetite rallied for that oyster soup. We enjoyed corn casserole and potatoes and broccoli salad and then gathered in the living room for family photos. The kids were finally able to open one present.
The wine indeed was poured with dinner. Despite the concerns over Grandpa, laughter was still evident, as always. Tradition, like life, rolls on.