Hello, Monday morning…Tom’s birthday week and Christmas…

The elephant on the left is resting his trunk on his tusk.  

Tom’s birthday couldn’t be at a more inconvenient time. In this life, it’s less of an issue that his birthday is on December 23. We don’t have a lot going on right now. However, in our old lives, it wasn’t easy to figure out how to celebrate his birthday with anyone other than ourselves when everyone was so busy getting ready for Christmas.

Two giant elephants in Kruger National Park.

In the early years, when our adult kids were younger and didn’t have families of their own, they’d join us for his birthday celebration, whether it was out to dinner or a full-blown party. Over the years, as their families grew along with work responsibilities, it wasn’t always possible for them to join us on the day of his birthday, so close to Christmas.

This could be a mom and two calves from different birthing seasons or other scenarios.

Ironically, out of five houses on our peninsula, the men in every other house also had a birthday on December 23, our dear friends and neighbors Doug and Chip, and then, of course, Tom. Doug and Jamie have a large family, so we couldn’t celebrate with him.

A mom and baby were moving along in the bush.

For many years we celebrated with Chip and Sue, who over the years, we’d become very close. Our dear Chip passed away shortly before we left for our travels in 2012, but surely we’ll send Doug a birthday greeting as we’ve done each year since we’ve been gone. There are many great memories of those days.

Elephants don’t hesitate to be close to one another.

In Marloth Park, South Africa, we have celebrated three of Tom’s birthdays in the bush. With most of our friends gone during the hot summer months, it made no sense to plan a get-together to celebrate his 69th birthday. Thus, we made a reservation for Thursday, the 23rd, for the two of us, and we’ll celebrate at the bar at Jabula. There’s no doubt that whoever joins us at the bar will celebrate with us, Dawn, Leon, Lyn, and their new assistant David.

Tom is delighted with this plan, especially when he knows upon our return on Thursday night, his favorite dessert, a homemade German Chocolate Cake, will be waiting for him. I plan to bake it from scratch on Thursday morning. Since he’ll be the only one eating it, it may last him through Christmas, even if he cuts the three-layer cake into six huge portions, which I am sure he’ll do. He may even eat more than one piece per day!

A mom and a youngster.

Now will be the first time I have baked this cake for him since we left the US. In most countries, the ingredients weren’t available to make the cake. Oddly, this time, at the Spar Market, I was able to find everything I needed for the recipe.

Grazing in the dense vegetation.

It may seem weird to be so enthused about a cake. But, after being gone from the US for over nine years, I can surely understand why it’s so appealing to him. Besides, it’s the best birthday gift I can give him since we never have room in our luggage for gifts from each other.

We hope all of you who celebrate Christmas are enjoying activities, socializing, and preparations for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s week with your friends and loved ones. Although most of our friends and family are far away, we’ve been staying in close touch with everyone via text and WhatsApp. Doing so never makes us feel as if we are too far away.

A baby elephant was sleeping in the grass.

Today is a quiet day. It’s started warming up again, but it’s still not as hot as a few weeks ago. We’re enjoying this cooler period, although it will begin to heat up again in a few days. We’re prepared for whatever may come our way. As long as we have each other and good health, we can handle any inconveniences that come our way.

Enjoy the season!

Photo from one year ago today, December 20, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #272. We were thrilled to be able to watch the nightly Hindu ceremony on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. Smoke from the fire rituals wafted through the air. For more, please click here.

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