A Louisiana Christmas To Page 1 >

Lexi and Bella

A Sweet Girl

It's great to have a new baby in the family ... and Lexi handled a lot of attention from a lot of people in stride. She's very good-natured and managed all the craziness around her with barely a peep. Many people think she looks like Brian ... and she does. But I also saw a lot of Kristin in her (see below). But mostly she looks like herself, an adorable baby.

Christmas Day PHOTOS »

Kristin at 3 months ...

and Lexi.

The pile of Christmas presents for Lexi almost reached the living room ceiling ... Kristin may open a toy store soon. The food that day was also over-the-top great.

Great Louisiana seafood.

Lexi and Papa John on Christmas day.

Proud parents & grandparents.

We made it ... official godparents.

Baptism Day

After another cold night (Christmas), we had a fortifying breakfast at Oak Alley. It was still in the 40s as we got to St.Philip Church, also on River Road. This was the same church at which Kristin, her mom, aunts and uncle had been baptised ... now it was Lexi's turn. Very neat to have such tradition and roots. The church looked festive with Christmas decorations; there were joyful carols and hymns ... it was a very uplifting service, especially because a baptism (of a perfect baby!) was part of it.

We didn't know what we'd have to do on the godparent side ... but went with the flow. One unexpected task was to bring the gifts down the center aisle to the priest. After a false start, I managed without tripping, wearing heels I hadn't worn in years. Lexi seemed to have been through the whole thing before, she calmly let the oils run off her head and smiled at the priest as the ceremony ended!

The "after party" was another big event ... with many long-time Ricard family friends stopping by the house with well-wishes and gifts. A good, old-fashioned southern baptism. A huge thank you to Helen and the whole family for including us in all the happenings this year!

Baptism, Levee PHOTOS »

We got in another invigorating levee walk, seeing ghosts of bonfires past and future. I also got my driftwood fix; we found a couple nice pieces. I wondered where they came from ... Missouri, Minnesota? When we returned to Oak Alley, I wandered the grounds in the cold, quiet darkness; the mansion looked beautiful by Christmas lights.

Loving the levee walks.


Last Day ... New Orleans

Something very rare happened on our last morning ... and I'm not talking about the frost on the grass or the frozen fish pond at Oak Alley. Mom joined us for breakfast! Yes, it's true, there's a picture for proof. I got the beignets I'd been wanting (delicious) which were served (unnecessarily) with cane syrup on the side. A unique, very sweet taste. Mom also had it on her french toast ... we decided we prefer maple, but were glad to experience a product of the plantation.

Oak Alley, New Orleans PHOTOS »

Then we parted ways, Mom would be driving back to Florida. (She loves to drive and is going strong at almost 85.) We had some time before an evening flight, so we had a chance to absorb a little more of New Orleans (though not nearly enough). We went first to City Park ... I wanted to see how it was faring after being under water after Katrina. We stopped at a quiet spot near a bayou. After a moment it became clear we were on a golf course ...it looked sad and neglected. But then, a bit of magic. Three pelicans appeared and stayed with us for over a half hour. They flew back and forth over the bayou, diving, swimming, playing. I wanted to leave, but they wouldn't let me.

City Park golf course ... hoping for a comeback.

Communing with the pelicans

Revisiting Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.

Very large crepe myrtle?

We drove down beautiful Esplanade into the Tremé, visiting a couple cemeteries — one was still taking new residents, the other had long ago been filled — on the way. Then it was time to leave. (We were lucky, our flights left as scheduled and we made it home to snow-buried New England.) Louisiana is a special place, like no other. It's in my heart. I'm always left wanting more.

Lake Pontchartrain, downtown and the Mississippi River.

The End

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