Fire at Windermere

Summer 1978. I was a summer staffer at Windermere Baptist Assembly (now Conference Center) outside of Camdenton.

The snack shop and book/gift shop were in this building, as was a lounge where I whiled away many happy hours.

Windermere structure ‘a total loss’ after Dec. 23 fire

This building — the oldest extant building at Windermere still in use — is a total loss. And a part of my formative years, and a big part of the summer of 1978, went up in flames.


The run-up to Christmas and Christmastide itself are a mash of traditions for many of us, I do think. Certainly, for my family, and for me.

For instance, I sent this photo of my Christmas morning breakfast to my sisters, featuring the homemade sticky pecan rolls I had made:

The response I got included the word ‘traditional’ from each sister, as they reminded me that they were having orange rolls (Pillsbury!), a long-standing tradition dating back to childhood.

One of my own traditions, living alone as I do, is to hold onto all the greeting cards sent me by others, and open then after the King’s College, Cambridge lessons & carols service on Christmas Eve.

For several years in the previous decade, my sister Karen gave me votive-lighted porcelain Christmas village pieces. Three have survived into this third decade of the twenty-first century. I traditionally on light them on Christmas Eve and for a few nights after, or if I am having guests in the evening (certainly not this year!).

And for me, Christmas dinner features ham, cheese grits, and green beans, with an apple pie chaser as dessert.

Those are my 2020 lime pickles on the side.

Christmas traditions mean family gatherings, this year on Zoom:

And one more . . . not a tradition, but for fun: Jessica the Circus Lady gifted the most whimsical and endearing oven mitt this year:

Christmas Day 2020

Christmas morning. Glitters and flashes of snow in the air for a few minutes. A warm house, good coffee, and the satisfaction of homemade sticky pecan rolls for breakfast.

I have iTunes playing a shuffle of all the Christmas albums that are loaded into my ‘Holiday’ genre. And behold! — back-to-back are Ball State University Singers performing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and my own setting of “The Oxen,” sung by the Masterworks Chorale. And now comes “This Christmastide” by the American Boychoir, conducted by James Litton. The choral wealth overwhelms.

As usual, I saved presents from my students to open today. And last evening I joined on Zoom with the Baileys for a gift exchange. Several months ago, I sat with Lou and Leah and Dennis by their firepit one Friday evening. Dennis thought conversation was lagging, and so he called up a website about candy. A spirited discussion ensued. Little did I know that Leah was making notes on what I liked. And little did they know that I went home that evening thinking about finding international candy assortments for the boys.

And so it was that, unknownst to each other, we planned gifts of candy for this year.

Christmas Eve evening included Lessons and Carols beautifully sung by the Schola of The Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton, then the 2019 Midnight Mass from Croydon Minster (found on YouTube, and broadcast in the UK by the BBC), and then the George C. Scott version for television of A Christmas Carol.

I’ll run goodies by a couple of homes in a bit, then likely have a nap later today. First I must tend to the apple pie that’s in the oven. And this evening I Zoom with my sisters and their kids (and grandkids).

This strange season of separation doesn’t change the wonder of this day.

Be merry!