Mass this morning was good (different priest, but the same off-key choir), and it definitely set the tone for the day as a celebration of the birth of Christ.
Kat and J got home and Kat decided to make a Christmas dinner (she got a free turkey from work, and figured she might as well cook it up instead of having to bring a frozen bowling ball to her new apartment). She got the bird cooking, and then it was time for me to go out for a while.
My boss had invited me to her house for some Christmas cheer, and when the boss extends an invitation, it's usually a good idea to take her up on it. I brought a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne, and my boss was very impressed (thanks to Kat for that suggestion). I did not have any wine or champagne, but it was nice to spend some time with her and her family in a casual, non-work setting.
After visiting, I came back home. Dinner wasn't quite ready yet, but after a while, Kat, J and I sat down to a delicious Christmas dinner of bourbon-basted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry-orange relish, and bourbon bread pudding for dessert. We ate and laughed, and basically had a wonderful time.
J had to leave around 8:00, and then Kat and I sat and watched some TV before I had to turn in for the night.
I was not really looking forward to this Christmas. I fully expected that Kat was going to be at J's house, and since my cooking skills are marginally above boiling water, I was counting on a Christmas dinner of Chinese food and Oreo cookies by myself. I was counting on being lonely and self-pitying and morose. Instead, I got to spend the day with some people I care about, had a delicious meal, and probably had one of the best Christmases I've had in years.
Afterward, as Kat and I were talking, it occurred to me that this is the last Christmas I'll spend with her, and the last Christmas dinner we'll have together. Within a matter of days, she will be moving into her new apartment, and things with her and J will start moving at a brisk pace. I am confident that next year, she will either be at his parents house, or she will have them over to her place. Either way, that is not the time or place for the ex-husband to be, no matter how good friends we may remain.
In the meantime, I will probably be visiting my relatives in Jersey, or may even be down at Gethsemani (as a retreatant; I won't be ready for my postulancy just yet).
While the thought that this is the last time we'll be together on Christmas does give me a twinge of sadness, I'm actually incredibly lucky. Here we both are, ready to move forward in our lives in different directions, and we were still able to enjoy one last holiday together. Most divorced couples never get that. They separate with a bitter taste, and all they can think about is the regret that they didn't appreciate the holidays they did get to spend together.
I can't speak for Kat, but as for me, it gives me a nice sense of closure, knowing that for one last time, this was OUR house, and we could enjoy each other's company and celebrate the season together, and feel warm all over. As much as I love my friends and relatives and appreciate the presents they gave me, this feeling, this memory, is what will last, and is the best gift of all.