Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday parties

Giving a holiday party is a bit like packing for a trip--going through the house wondering what you forgot! Since I'm a compulsive who does things way ahead, I had lots of time for that kind of second guessing. Then after the party, you feel slightly like a truck has run over you. At least I did last night as I was cleaning up, especially my feet.
But inbetween are those golden hours of greeting old and dear friends and watching them enjoy each other--and the food. I had warned everyone I wasn't going all out this year but of course they thought I did--my triumphs included a Reuben spread--the ingredients of a Reuben sandwich put into a spread--and a salmon terrine with cream cheese, lots of it, and capers and dill. In spite of my fears, it was easy to make--its layered--and easy to unmold. I still had a few sprigs of dill in the pots on the porch so they decorated it. Medium successes: chopped chicken liver and herring--the few people that eat those loved them but they're not items of general appeal. Still I remember when I used to serve large bowls of herring and everyone loved it.  Failures: the bean dip with pesto and lemon juice--unappetizing color and texture; brie because it didn't cook right, though everyone ate it. Things I didn't cook that were okay: marinated vegetables and hummus. I really overestimated on desserts and am now frantically trying to think of people who need them so I won't be tempted.
I've been giving some form of a tree trimming party since the mid-sixties, and many people have been coming almost that long. These days it's an almost annual, no-tree tree-trimming party because I never put up a tree any more. It's just that the label has stuck to the party so firmly. But the best part of it is that people see others they're really fond of but don't see often. It's a time of a lot of hugging, and this year it was a time of a lot of children--three of my grandchildren, four of my brother's, and two of Jacob's cousins. I had a separate kids menu--grapes, carrots, cherry tomatoes, pigs in a blanket, cheese strips. The children ranged in age from 11 years to 3 months. All in all, it was a lovely evening.
And after a good long sleep, I was glad I cleaned up last night and only had to put dishes away.
Today I nibbled on leftovers and then served them to guests. An author I'd worked with and encouraged to rewrite his novel (it was subsequently rejected after I left the press) wrote to say he and his wife would be at a B&B just blocks from my house and could we get together for coffee. I invited them for a glass of wine, served leftovers (they'd never eaten chopped liver and liked it a lot), and we had a delightful visit--very pleasant people, good conversation, both about writing and lots of other things. It kind of carried the festive mood of the weekend over.
Jacob is here. He arrived sleepy, turned very shy for my company and sat in my lap refusing to speak to them, and finally livened up with a little food and ice cream. Now we're fighting the to-bed battle. Ah, well.

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