We are on the other side of Christmas, and I am still basking in the glow. With families blending, and kids trying to please all their extended families, my goal was to remain flexible. And I did. Kids spun in, migrated away, and there was only an hour on Christmas Day when we were “all in the house”. It was a great hour. At the end of a long day, and a “say yes to the dress” marathon, all the kids crashed at my house. This was unanticipated, and somewhat humiliating to me as a housekeeper. Mike’s bedroom has degraded to a storage facility…it cannot remain a shrine to all things Mike …-but he just moved the boxes and they passed out. All six kids had coffee and leftover quiche and coffeecake before heading back to their lives. They took their gifts, so the house is somewhat neat again. I am ready to start over, just to get my family back for a visit, but life goes on….
We selected a simple Christmas menu to accommodate the revolving door of family: lasagna made by Albert D’Andrea, of the old D’Andrea’s Italian Market in Berwyn, salad and garlic bread. Steve wanted chili, but I could not be that simple. I cannot begin to say how PERFECT this lasagna was: high, full of meat and spinach, standing tall when cut. I must add that I am a poor excuse for a hostess. I NEVER get things right. My oven is unbalanced; one pan cooked to perfection, one lagged. I forgot to defrost the bumpy cake, a Detroit classic from Sandrers bakery. Just a week before, in Detroit, I had dragged Steve to buy it. I froze it to keep it perfect. Then forgot it.
As dinner hour neared, the kitchen sink started oozing water into my garden window full of Christmas lights, and into the cupboard below. Out came the marine flashlight, into a box went the accumulated cleaning products, towels soaked up the puddles. It was as if the faucet just melted, and the water kept coming. We turned the water off, Christmas still to come held a bathtub full of dishes for me. Dinner was delayed, but the lasagna was the perfect dish: it gets better if it rests.
Pat had produced a Christmas Blackhawks special, airing at 7. Fifteen minutes after we sat down, the table emptied for the show. But I remained flexible. I had another glass of wine and stayed in the dining room with my sister. Steve imposed upon our wonderful plumber neighbor, Frank Tramontana, to come and look at the sink. He actually left his inlaws early to come over, and he did not charge us triple time. No lasagna ring in the bathtub! I owe his wife, big time.
I have raised my kids to embrace the notion that it is the thought that counts in a gift, and I am a proud Mom this Christmas. The boys knew that navigating the first holiday without Dad would be tricky. They came up with gifts that were perfect: a treasure box for family memories, along with a journal for telling our stories, a mechanical Portuguese Water Dog that danced around the family room, a book about my Dad’s division in World War 11, a mahogany B-17 with an accompanying framed photo of Grandpa Tom.
Rachel, me, Kathryn and Justine- my new posse; I have waited so long for girls...
The girls made me a scrapbook of our Hawaii trip, with hundreds of pictures, and souvenirs from our week. Matt’s girlfriend, Justine, hit a scrapbooking emporium, bought every Hawaii themed item in the place, and they had an assembly party in the one residence that lacked a kitchen table! They sacrificed their time and
their backs to make me this treasure. When I saw their faces, excited to give this special gift- I could count my blessing, then double them. My boys are lucky to have these partners. I had made Mac books for all of us of the same holiday- but there was no comparison: handmade trumps computer generated.
Steve is a grinch, but he knows it, and he subverted it for us. Christmas, for Steve, was a day that interrupted his Deadliest Catch marathon. He was charmed with his gifts, even the Kindle I gave him to encourage him to forget that reading is for losers. He gave me a beautiful necklace from Maui Divers, another reminder of our family time and his love. He did not get (too) hurt or offended when I mistook the golden bamboo tube for a knee joint…(my bad) He was steady and helpful during our plumbing debacle. He did dishes, and was a cordial host. HE beat us all to bed. He missed “Say yes to the dress!” He was even nice to Walter, the dog that never settles down. Ever. I had a great holiday, and I owe it to my family.
I will continue to revel in the lights and the music. I am trying not to be blue about Steve’s impending departure for Florida. I am trying to maintain my bubble of “peace on Earth” despite the efforts of another terrorist to pulverize an aircraft. There is time to curse the strip searching technology that lay ahead for all of us. For now, all is calm, all is bright.