Christmas Eve on Hilton Head Island (2014)

The Lord above made liquor for temptation,
To see if man could turn away from sin.
The Lord above made liquor for temptation-but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
When temptation comes you’ll give right in!
With a little bit…with a little bit…
With a little bit of luck you’ll give right in.

My Fair Lady – With A Little Bit O’ Luck | MetroLyrics

It’s Christmas Eve on Hilton Head Island!  Christmas Eve, December 24th! Christmas Eve in South Carolina! And I don’t mind telling you I am pleased, very pleased to be here.  It is a triumph of serendipity! It closes the loop on a lifetime ambition.  Santa Claus could well be forgiven to give our place a miss tonight!

Although we’re currently locked in conflicting fronts of warm and cold air masses which are sweeping the country and causing regular outbursts of rain and occasional deluges (even a possible tornado), we interrupted the holiday lethargy of our fancy free afternoon to go for an hour-long (and fairly dry) bike ride through Sea Pines Plantation. Initially we hadn’t any mission grander than getting some improving exercise. But an assignment percolated into our naughty consciousness. It was after all Christmas Eve! We headed for our preferred package store “Rollers” in Coligny Park at the end of South Forest Beach Drive. In conversation with the Swiss-born hostess of the emporium I was flabbergasted to discover that the store also sells olives, bar ware, cocktail accessories, party supplies and even cigars!  We embellished our elemental shopping list of vodka and Vermouth accordingly.

As we cycled homeward, dogging the intensifying rain drops by tunnelling through the giant sea pines and live oak trees on the twisting bike path, our bicycle baskets duly charged, the tell-tale “clinking of the sandwiches” betrayed our sanctimony.

Once home we delayed addressing the upcoming evening supper just long enough to throw our dampened clothes into the laundry. Though yesterday the thought of a homemade tourtière meat pie had crossed our minds, we abandoned the rustic preference as too ethnic for the American palate and settled instead for the comparatively uninventive though equally traditional menu of shrimp cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce, filet mignon, sautéed mushrooms, asparagus spears and fingerling potatoes – a meal which in retrospect I can relate was superbly contrived!

Meanwhile we divert ourselves by catching bits of specialized cooking shows and repeat Christmas movies on television,  and answering emails from friends afar.  I never fail to relish the mystery of Christmas Eve!  It is a time so thoroughly dedicated to the delight of the present.  Even if one were to contaminate the immediacy of the experience by any pretence of planning, the objective would be limited to mere hours hence, so fleeting is the celebration.