Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Running Out of Food and Other Holiday Memories

The holidays are fading from our memories, the tree is down, the ornaments away, and the house is back to normal. Well, sort of; it’s never really normal around here. Here are my memories of Holiday Season 2008, just a few short weeks in the past.

1. Hosting Christmas Eve: Every year, I host a Christmas Eve party for my side of the family. Celebrating Christmas Eve in grand style has been a tradition since my brother and sisters and I were kids, because my dad usually worked Christmas Day and this was our chance to open presents and have him blind us with the flood light from the 16mm handheld camera that was so popular in the ‘60s and ‘70’s. (Don’t tell me that you don’t have movies from that era where everyone is squinting or shading their eyes from the light…is it any wonder that most of us wear glasses now?) I began hosting this event about five years ago after my parents downsized from our childhood home to a smaller place…which in actuality, is probably bigger than my place but that’s the excuse my mother used to get out of hosting twenty people every year and who am I to argue?

I had what looked like a twenty-pound beef tenderloin but in actuality was probably about eight or nine pounds. People, that’s a lot of meat. Trust me. I also had homemade macaroni and cheese, two Pyrex dishes of scalloped potatoes, brussel sprouts (nobody ate those), roasted butternut squash, peas, and bread. The main meal was served AFTER copious amounts of hors d’oeuvres, cheese and crackers, champagne, and nuts were served and inhaled. My husband and I did FHB (family hold back) and made sure everyone had eaten before picking up plates to go down the buffet line, only to find that there wasn’t a morsel of food left. Nothing. Well, the brussel sprouts were there but being as he hates them and I’m on a low-roughage diet (not a topic for any blog post), we looked at them sadly and kept walking. However, we surveyed our guests, who were happily chowing down on everything else, and decided that our hunger was secondary to their happiness and had extra dessert to make up for it.

The moral of this story: next year, either add a full tray of lasagna to the mix or buy two tenderloins. My family, apparently, comes very hungry to this event. I was a very embarrassed hostess, although everyone who ate assured me that it was delicious, they ate enough, and there was nothing to worry about. Just like family should.

2. Oral surgery: In the midst of all of the holiday hoopla, I had oral surgery. (And many thanks to the northern half of Evelyn David for talking me down prior to it. I was fairly hysterical going into it.) I was supposed to have it on December 19, but being as we were to have a “snow event,” as the weather people euphemistically call a heck of a lot of snow, I was told the night before by the office manager at the periodontist’s office that the procedure was cancelled. I celebrated with some Williams Sonoma toffee and a glass of chardonnay, knowing that when I eventually had the surgery, both of those items were out of the question. I woke up the next morning, saw no snow, and wondered if cancelling had been such a wise idea because I knew that I would never reschedule the appointment and live with the half tooth that was still in my mouth. Then the phone rang at 7:15 a.m. It was Dr. C., the periodontist, who also saw no snow, and said “come in by nine and I’ll have you home by noon.” Well, now I wasn’t mentally prepared. So, Jim drove me up there, and I cried the entire time, knowing what I was in for. I cried in the waiting room, I cried when he strapped on my bib, and I cried until I fell asleep from the medicine Dr. C. gave me. And then I was awake—a little ornery but none the worse for wear—and in the car, driving home in a blizzard (fortunately, Jim, the best snow driver there is, was behind the wheel). The snow did come, I did have the surgery, and to tell you the truth, driving home was worse than the actual procedure.

I saw Dr. C. the other day to get my stitches out and proclaimed him “the gum surgery whisperer.” The guy was amazing. My pain pangs were few and far between. I took two pain pills—one when I came home and one before bed that night—and then didn’t even have to take an Advil to get through the day after that. I have to go back for another procedure in another month or so and I promised him that I wouldn’t cry. And that I wouldn’t yell at him when I woke up from the anesthesia like I did that day. He took it all in stride like a good periodontist should.

3. Vacation: I took an actual two-week vacation. I haven’t done that in years. I turned my computer off on the 19th (the day of the dreaded oral surgery) and didn’t turn it on for days. It was a wonderful feeling and I wasn’t sure I could do it but I recommend it highly. I turned my attention to doing things around the house that I had been putting off—donating books to the library, going through the clothes and house wares and making a few trips to the Goodwill Store, organizing my office—which was extremely gratifying if you’re a Type A nut like yours truly. But it’s back to work this week and I feel rested and rejuvenated. Just in time to start writing Alison Bergeron #5, getting back to my other jobs, and getting back into the school/work routine.

So, holiday memories, please? What did you do? Anybody else run out of food? Have too much? I’m glad to be back blogging with the Stiletto Gang and am looking forward to hearing from you. Happy new year!

Maggie

6 comments:

  1. So glad that you found a gum whisperer :-) and that the surgery went well.

    As for running out of food at a family event -- I think our families must be related given their appetites! It looks like I'm feeding the Fifth Army when my crowd shows up -- and they're definitely part of the clean plate club :-)

    Happy New Year!
    Marian

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  2. Congrats on a successful holiday season--the surgery, the hosting, the snow, and most especially the vacation.

    We take turns at hosting both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although we always have nice meals for both regardless of how many are here. Our turn at Polito Christmas Eve can involve around 30 guests!

    We always have too much food and I would rather run out or run low. I'm actively working toward that. I get pretty sick of eating the Christmas meal left-overs for my lunch and some dinners for the--no joke--nearly two weeks following Christmas. It's a mildly depressing bore and means I have to cut and wrap and freeze and then thaw and then nuke things like it's a part-time job.

    All that said, today my Christmas decor is all still up and I've put all the lights, even outside, on around the clock since last night and into tomorrow morning because today is Russian Christmas and ever since I was a kid I've kept a little touch of that going. Lights and tree stay up through January 7th every year and if not on that actual date (like this year) than on the weekend following I make a nice but simple dinner and we stuff stockings full of traditional nuts, candy, and beautiful fruits as a gift and share it all with whomever is coming that year. This year, it's just me and the spouse, which is fine. We'll be having a chunk-for-two of a beef tenderloin I got for the Christmas Day dinner I hosted and cut and wrapped and froze prior to roasting.

    Wishing a happy and healthy 2009, filled with successes, to all of the Stiletto Gang and their readers.

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  3. Happy New Year to you too!!Happy to hear that the surgery went well.As for running out of food at a family event,we always order extra ,so no chance of experiencing it.In future if i get a chance i will write you:-)

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  4. May your new year be filled with joy, success, contentment and satisfaction!

    Our family has multiple Christmases - one in Richmond with the husband's family, one at our house with friends and housemates. My family is up north, where we spent a real New England Thanksgiving this year.

    Food at our gathering is usually a turducken with sides of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, portabello mushroom cassoulet and cranberry orange relish. My husband makes his own mead, and that is always an accompaniment to whatever dessert has been brought by guests. Good food, good friends and family are the best parts of the holiday, and there are -always- leftovers.

    And yes - my lights are still up. It's been freezing rain for two days. When the weather eases, then the lights will come down. (Weather is -always- a good excuse!)

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  5. I should have guessed that this week's blog would be about the food...it was delicious, by the way (although I didn't have the brussels sprouts). Thanks for another amazing Christmas...can't wait to see y'all again (I threw the "y'all" in on purpose...kinda).

    Colleen

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  6. Hello to all reading the blog. I'm Judi McCoy and I'm so happy Maggie mentioned my new series. As an aside, ALL royalties I receive for this first book will be donated to Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the US. This is a wonderful charity and I hope to get them new members.
    About the series: Rudy, the protagonist's own dog, will be writing a blog off my website. The little guy will have a lot to say, mostly things that I can't.
    The new website should be up by January 15. Please stop by and have a laugh on Ellie and Rudy.
    Judi McCoy

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