Monday, December 15, 2008


We had a tiny overnight guest Saturday, so her Mama and Daddy could go to the office Christmas party at a hotel downtown. For breakfast yesterday, Caro brought us donut holes from the bakery, fresh and cushiony, with a little slick of vanilla glaze gilding each small pillow.

Baby Girl pointed. “Cook-a,” she said to the box. And so she was set in her chair, her hands washed, her sippy cup of cold milk at the ready.

A few slices of bacon into the microwave, one golden scrambled egg for the little one, cut into tiny squares and laid warm onto the tray, each piece flashing out a brief aura of warm vapor to cloud the steel. “Hot,” she pronounced, thumb-and-fingering up a bite.

We sat with coffee, milk, tea---our beverage choices a gamut of tastes, eating the sweet, sweet bites in a kind of yeasty Communion on the Sunday morning.

Then Caro and I spent an hour or so cutting and arranging trays of fudge and dipped pretzels and cookies and rocky road, for a cookie-swap party in the afternoon.
Chris and our girl departed early, to deliver her home, and he to an early matinee of TDTESS.

We arranged with him to meet us at a wonderful Chinese restaurant after the party, thinking we were going to a have-a-cookie, sip-some-tea affair, but the hostess had a wonderful party table with chicken salad on rolls, hot artichoke dip, spinach balls (I’m getting the recipe), crudite and dip, the corned-beef-cheese-ball we brought, and a JELLO MOLD!!

It was pink and pineapple-y and in one of those seventies Tupperwares with the snap-off top and bottom which make it easy to unmold onto a plate. What a nice Christmas Memory!! (And a hilarious one, as when we cleared the table, she neatly turned the Jello plate so the mold would fit just so back into the container, then flipped it rightside up, standing with a puzzled look on her face as the mayo topping and some of the Jello ran into her palm---she’d forgotten to snap the little BOTTOM piece back on).

We’d seen her cut mercilessly into a fresh pineapple as well, taking off the head with one hack, quartering that thing from top to bottom like a practiced woodchopper. She made four “boats” of it, did the against-the-peel knife-slide all through, then sliced down dozens of times, making bite-sized pieces, still sitting neatly in their little rowboat.

I watched from the kitchen table as her husband, his glasses studiously tipped low upon his nose, measured out a tablespoon of DeKuyper Peach Brandy to sprinkle into each section, then a tall-rounded tablespoon of brown sugar to crumble down the tops.

Under foil, into the oven as we ate, then out and into the center of the table, where I, closest to the spoon, was asked to serve portions from the hothot pyrex; I didn’t know if it felt like Grandma serving the kids, or like pouring out at Windsor. It was SUBLIME, and I don’t even LIKE brandy. (Though I do keep a bottle of the exact Peach, for a warm fruit compote now and then, and for flaming crepes or a fruit topping).

We talked, ate, then all adjourned to the beautifully Christmassed living room, where we sat amongst the trees and lights and Santa-hatted deer and owls, with a great bank of shrubbery against the WIDE windows---perhaps six overlapping, decades-old Christmas cacti in all their rosy bloom. I stared fascinated at one of those fiberoptic trees like those flower-clocks of the eighties. As the tips glowed and diminished, I grew drowsy with the warmth and the unaccustomed midafternoon meal, whilst the young folks chatted.

We sampled bites from the huge table of cookies and candy and savories; we filled plates and bags and Glad-Boxes with all the goodies, each taking home lots to share with family and holiday visitors.

We were too satiated with all that party food to go out, so Chris had a quiet dinner alone, and WAY late during Survivor, Caro and I scavenged the fridge for some cold roast chicken and Paminna Cheese.

It was a wonderful afternoon, all cheery and warm and smelling of lovely spices and the woodsy bright scent of a fresh tree, with good food and good wishes shared among friends.

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