. . . and see lovely cousins and aunts and uncles and parents who always welcome us

. . . and hear “Deck the Halls” performed as only the ever-impecable Jeeves can perform it thanks to Pogo, without which Boxing Day for me would just not be complete

. . . and see two lovely sisters make little ones giggle with delight at their silly piano antics—adeptly accompanied by Linus on pencil

. . . and eat that rich and ooey plum pudding sauce which is probably the one reason I love the stuff (we need something to hold the sauce, after all . . . similar to the Fisherman’s thoughts that we need bread just because something has to hold the butter) and hear squeals of, “I got a quarter!” from all the kiddos

. . . and watch the New Year’s Eve “Twilight Zone” marathon with the same cute kids rolling around on the floor, who at times giggle at the “aliens” who look like Buzz Lightyear and at times hide their eyes at the “scary parts” 

. . . and watch the same marathon with the husbands of certain cousins (as well as my own), one of whom, when I commented on the size of the aliens spaceship ( “I said 10 feet! Not 10 inches!”)  cracked up at the understood movie reference and simply said, “That has got to be the best movie ever.” And I thought is was cool we all got that reference

. . . and see Sister E’s face light up when she heard that her pilot would be there to share her New Year’s Eve with her . . . and to see that they apparently share the same brain-waves during a certain card game

. . . and to feel so welcome during a lovely lesson in Relief Society while sitting next to said Sister E . . . and easily understanding why she loves a certain bright, energetic friend of hers who seemed to grab you in a rib-cracking, friendly embrace with her smile

. . . and spend an afternoon at bookstores with said cousins and giggle at . . . certain . . . romance . . . titles . . . hee hee hee!

. . .  and love the glorious fact that said cousins love bookstores as much as I do and there is no rush to wander through

. . . and enjoy a fun-filled, late evening with certain other cousins and cute kiddies with delicious pizza and a classic movie about a homesick extra-terrestrial

. . . and have engaging and delightful academic, political, and spiritual conversation with above-mentioned cousins who graciously share their new Little Sweetie with visitors—and to see the amazing way said cousins teach their children 

. . . and, while watching the above parents with their children, feel relieved thinking, “Thank goodness! They do this, too! Then I just might be doing it right!”

. . . and have that great feeling of being able to relate to an intelligent couple who, because they share your age and similar circumstances, enjoy the same topics of conversation you do

. . . and have conversations with Prince Hal, my favorite of which was his lead-in, “Guess what?” My reply, “What?” His looking away coyly, “I’m not telling.” Then proceeding to tell me about his toy or “his” baby or whatever is on his mind at the time

. . . and seeing evidence of the above mentioned Prince Hal having a future in card dealing

. . . and sharing in the joy of certain little girls who are allowed to have a sleep over

. . . and remembering how I was once the same way . . . and realizing I still experience such a thrill when evenings involve activities with my cousins

. . . and sharing the evening with Jeeves and his girls who graciously invited us to  watch Dr. Who — and didn’t mind when we kept asking for more

. . . and the ability to take a lovely daytime walk in the sun at the end of December without snow, ice, or any cold whatsoever . . . lovely lovely!

. . . and having my girls count the cacti as we walk along and laugh at the one with Santa hats

. . . and see the fine local zoo where you can actually see the cheetahs!

. . . and look out on a forest of cacti along the path on a New Year’s Day hike

. . . and, though it was pleasant to come back home to a chilly 2 degree evening rising to a toasty 40 during the day, it was heart-warming to know that we will be welcome any time in the Land of Oranges—thankfully—as it was, as usual, hard to leave.

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