I hope everyone, celebrating or not, had a wonderful time yesterday. Let me now review time-honored principles of wonderfulness on Christmas, and other family gatherings.
1. Cook good food. In our case, roast chickens stuffed with lemons and rosemary, (or apples and onions), a rib-eye roast of grass-fed beef with Bearnaise sauce, sauteed kale with olive oil, chile peppers and vinegar, (or pancetta), roast potatoes, salad with home grown mandarins and avocados, and a spice cake with whipped cream, home grown Meyer lemon syrup, homemade caramel sauce, raspberries, and strawberries.
2. Sing songs. Here that meant Swedish Christmas carols alternating with Mariah Carey singalongs. My Mac on the linen-covered table under a crystal chandelier lit with candles. “All I Want For Christmas, Is You…Baby.”
3. Drink just enough alcohol and not too much. This is cross-cultural and needs no explanation.
4. Spend some time in quiet together, after the chaos. We retired to the living room and sat, in companionable conversation, listening to YouTube video songs as requested by the group. Aretha Franklin at 14 singing gospel; Ray LaMontagne’s, “Jolene.”
5. Muster for good will to all. We were 16, from 5 different families, speaking 2 languages. With various histories of past happiness, past sadness, past arguments. Divorces, deaths, sorrows. But, precisely because we were so many people and were so aware of the possibility of misunderstandings (or worse, understandings of things shouldn’t have been said), we focused on goodwill and kindness. It has not always been so.
(Oh, and it doesn’t hurt when your mother, for no reason whatsoever, gives your daughter a necklace. From the family, although, “Not in the direct line.” Originally for a little girl. 6 rose gold medallions the size of thumbnails, strung from a chain, spelling out a name in a diamond-covered, dangling, monogram. Teeny diamonds, but, still. I promise, I am very, very thankful for good fortune. Up in my little 3 bedroom house it’s not so visible. Here at my mother’s, well, it’s a lot.)
6. Finally, luck. Luck beyond fortune. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes not. The same goes for families. This one was a good day for ours. I hope for yours as well. If this year was a miss, luckily, Christmas will be here again in 12 months for another try.