Calendars get pretty full around Christmas so family gatherings can be a little difficult to coordinate. However, Friday evening seemed to be free for both my mother and cousin so Friday had been set for our traditional exchange of presents followed by dinner. Somewhat less traditional was the dinner itself. Mother visited Italy in the summer and surprised me by declaring that she now liked spaghetti, particularly with a Bolognese sauce; and, yes, she would like it if I made that for her. So, Friday morning was taken up for me with the three hour process of Bolognese sauce preparation. To make the meal completely eclectic, Keith volunteered to struggle bravely with foreign ingredients and produce an American sugar-rush classic for desert, pecan pie, for which Carol made the pastry case. To complete the menu, Marlene and Carol also set about assembling some appetizers: cream cheese with spiced cranberry chutney together with blinis topped with sour cream, smoked salmon and caviar (fake, I hasten to add). So, that was pretty much everybody tied up in preparation for the day making it a real team effort.
All came together smoothly and we kicked off at 6:30 PM when mother and her friend, Tony arrived. Cousin Mark and his partner Linda arrived just after 7:00 PM and the serious business of presents-around-the-Christmas-tree began accompanied by some very pleasant Spanish Cava. We managed to squeeze eight around our extended dining table and everyone seemed to enjoy the food; at least, there wasn’t much left at the end. Six casualties were sustained in the continued assault on the European wine lake, which isn’t too bad for a gathering of eight (two of which weren’t drinking). Proceedings drew to a close around 11:00 PM and the weary kitchen team could retire for some well-deserved rest.
Christmas had come early this year and began on the shortest day, December 21st.