Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Season 2009

Christmas has passed and I am only just now sitting down to write. I’ve been thinking about what to write for days, but in between getting ready for meals – and eating – I’ve been pretty much lying on the sofa or bed with heating pads and hot water bottles, quite lethargic.

It really has been a very nice, joyous holiday. On the Wednesday before Christmas we went with our friends, Kirk and Lisa, to the Italian Market in South Philadelphia for breakfast and shopping. We went to the “wild” game purveyor and purchased some venison – as we were planning a venison stew for Christmas. This I kept secret from certain members of my family as I thought they would be predisposed not to eat it!

It is always fun shopping at this outdoor market during the holidays. If it weren’t for all the Asian vendors it would feel rather Dickensonian. It was cold that day, and the fires were going in the trash cans behind the vegetable stalls. We stopped in another of our favorite stalls to pick up provolone and pasta cheeses, then went over to the seafood store to buy fresh little neck clams and chopped clams for Christmas Eve dinner.

On Christmas Eve we put together a simple dinner of spaghetti and clams and salad. Mom’s neighbors joined us, as did my brother and his family. Joan and I made a terrific white clam sauce – and she made her killer garlic bread. Earlier that day, Thierry and I put together our venison stew. It was Thierry’s idea to make it the night before – and he was right – sitting overnight enabled the flavors to blend, and if I say so, it was a tasty meal. All but one person ate it, some even had seconds!

Again, our Christmas meal was simple, starting with a salad, then the stew, followed by delicious fresh made applesauce (by Lisa), topped with vanilla ice cream. Joan also made her famous chocolate cake. We began the party with stuffed mushrooms made by Ann, asparagus and nuts by Jean, and absolutely delicious dumplings made by Koniko.

Last night, Sunday, we had our 4th annual family wine tasting; a tradition begun as an alternative to inter-family gift giving. Lauren and Robert (famous wine-guy from one of our local state-run liquor stores) chose a wide selection of domestic and imported wines. We began with a sparkling white from California, a white California Viognier blend, and reds from Argentina, Spain, and France. Everyone (each couple or individual) brought an appetizer and a cheese selection.

Each of these celebrations can be characterized by the same ambiance. A general feeling of (relative) calmness prevailed (which is unusual when a big crowd of Italians and sisters get together). Missing were the frantic, rushing to get the food on the table gyrations that normally take place. I don’t think anyone felt overworked. Everyone pitched in, both in getting things together and in the clean up, and everyone seemed to be engaged in conversation, laughter, and in having just a plain old good time.

I don’t know if I speak for myself, but I must say it was a wonderful holiday, especially when surrounded by my terrific family, great friends and loving husband.

1 comment:

annod2 said...

Christmas dinner was wonderful, even if we all were skeptical of the "mystery stew." As usual, you are the perfect hostess. This year Christmas takes on a different meaning for a lot of us. I,for one, treasure the moments spent with family and friends and am making "hustle and bustle" a thing of the past. I love you, dear sister, and thank you for all your goodness!