Thursday, December 22, 2011

Twas the Week Before Christmas

I awoke this morning in a chipper mood, wrote two chapters, had lunch, married a couple from Atlanta, and now I'm once again in front of my computer screen. I've read all sixty emails in my box, answered about half of them...the rest do not require an answer.

Now, I'm thinking of the Christmas Chaos otherwise known as Christmas Eve dinner. I bought a steamship round instead of prime rib. Don't know what a steamship round is? Think the hind haunch of a cow and a huge hunk of beef rarely seen out of fine dining establishments. You got it...it's time for fixing and feeding the family.

While I had thought about buying a couple of Tur-duc-hens, I passed in lieu of a family favorite, roasted beast. The thought of how in Merry Old England the feasting at long banquet tables entered my mind. Then I thought about all those luscious creations out of a wood burning hearth and stand back amazed. We do put the tables together for Christmas and my 14x11 living room and 11x14 dining room become one huge banquet hall. All the older adults sits at the table...all thirty of them.  The children (20) have their own table in what was my office. A nice piece of plywood on the pool table works as a table. Two sideboards hold all the goodies in chafing dishes...there just isn't enough room on the tables after the china, glasses and silverware are set. Of course there is a long, low centerpiece of candles in goblets, evergreens, and poinsettias.

While feeding an army of family may not be everyone's idea of fun, for me it's a joy. Being a former restaurant chef has it's advantages. Poppers are placed at each charger with fan folder cloth napkins with a candy cane at the base. It's a major undertaking. I do an international menu of sorts. Of course there is horseradish sauce made from roots grown in a wine barrel in garden mixed with creme fresh and a little mayonnaise made in a gallon jug. Yorkshire pudding made from the yummy drippings of the beast. A shrimp pilaf, bacon wrapped asparagus sprinkled with a touch of Parmesan cheese and garlic, roasted red skinned potatoes, fennel, and carrots, almond green beans in soy sauce, and plenty of fresh yeast cresent rolls to go around (150 of them).

Dessert is another whole five-foot table filled with New York style cheescakes with three sauces, pies (3 types), my triple death by chocolate cake, a fruity, creamy trifle, my grandmother's cookie recipes baked with the help of our grandchildren, gingerbread with rum sauce, and my fruitcakes which were started around Halloween and allowed to soak in rum all this time. Needless to say, I started cooking and baking today.

All this takes place after Christmas Eve service with a traditionally late supper. Afterwards, the children open our gifts to them and the adults sit back and groan in contented fullness.We will sing songs of praises, maybe put in a Christmas DVD until late in the evening, several children have passed out cuddled in their parent's laps, and the older adults snooze a bit in the reclining sofas.

Eventually everyone will go home to start again on Christmas Day at my father's house with more food and gifts, and then off to various in-laws' houses. For the first time in decades, I will not be going to an in-law's house after my father's house. Another piece of Christmas tradition gone to heaven, but in our hearts they remain.

I hate to say this, but next year I'm breaking out the fine Chinet china and plastic ware. While I'm one of those wash as I go type cooks, the aftermath of this one dinner keeps us busy for hours. Not to mention a full heavy duty washer load of linens. So if you will excuse me...the timer just went off on my pies.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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