Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Home for the Holidays


Whatever we are asked to call this period of time at the end of December, whether it's religious or festive, in my family we try to make a bow beyond just the secular to both Christmas and Hannukah.  However, as the kids get older and the precious time together seems more and more compressed, we spend less and less time with the traditional prayers, stories, and services than we do with the catching up and laughing, making merry, reveling in the special lights, and treasuring moments together.

For a long time, I like many moms before me, have made a ritual of cooking and preparing and creating a vast reception for the hungry appetites I know will land on my doorstep.  So over the years, I have worked to accommodate the expanding dietary rules, limitations, limits, and experiments that my growing brood requests.  This year I scoured Epicurious.com as well as my shelf of cookbooks for the perfect dishes that would accommodate the vegetarians, the kosher-observant ones, the meat eaters, and the simple gourmets among them.   With apologies to the lactose intolerant in the group, the baked Alaska "took the cake" this year with its drama and elegance and in the end, once we got over our disbelief and anxiety, its simplicity.

But no matter how hard I try and no matter how grateful and simply full everyone is, coming home brings  certain culinary calls.  Among them are the local sandwich shops that generate a debate among sibs over which has the best wraps or cranberry sauce.   The homing phenomenon was clear late on Christmas Day when the tired and overfed group decided to honor a Jewish tradition and order Chinese food.   From the very busy and stalwart restaurant right around the corner, they ate one of our long time standards: Chinese cold noodles with sesame sauce.  One of my adult kids gratefully announced: "The great thing about cold noodles is that they still taste just like they did in sixth grade."  Nostalgia strikes again.

No matter how sophisticated their palates might have become through travels and experiences beyond imagining, the tastes, flavors and happy experiences at home mingle and linger a long while in our minds.  And that is the blessing of togetherness no matter what's on the menu. 

image from zazzle.com via Googleimages

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