Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the Season

It was my turn to cook today.

In my community, Sandhill Farm, all the adults—and even Renay, who is 12—take turns cooking. With six adult members on the farm plus Renay, that means everybody will have one day wearing the apron during the week I'm home between my last last road trip and a 10-day Vipassana retreat starting the 27th. This is the week of the year where holiday celebrations are most dense, with Solstice, Chanukah, and Christmas all happening in a five-day span. Kinda like sequential fireworks in the dark of winter.

Today started propitiously enough with the tail end of a 36-hour visit from my daughter-in-law Tosca, with her eight-month-old daughter (my one and only granddaughter) Taivyn. We'd had a lovely (if brief) visit and Tosca headed back to St Louis and Christmas with her mother and grandparents after breakfast and a diaper change. Being with an inquisitive, happy baby for a day-and-a-half put everyone in a good mood.

It's especially fun to cook during these days of reflection and socializing, where people linger longer over morning coffee, take naps in the afternoon, and play games after dinner. Today, in addition to cooking supper (steamed rice and Chlilean Squash—page 140 in Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook) I set up a holiday hors d'oeuvre spread at 5 pm, featuring double cream brie, baked garlic, French bread rounds, a coarse-ground salami seasoned with Chianti, Toasted Head chardonnay, and a bottle of tawny port. No one was all that hungry when supper was trotted out an hour later.

It was just the community—our family of friends—sitting around the kitchen table (conveniently near the wood stove) telling stories, laughing easily, and enjoyng each other's company. For my money, that's what holidays are all about.

What's more, tomorrow I get to double dip. My wife, Ma'ikwe, spent the day here and tomorrow morning we'll mosey over to her place at Dancing Rabbit—just three miles to the northeast—and gear up for the Christmas Day potluck by assembling tamales (a chicken version, one with cheese, and a vegan option featuring mushrooms), Russian tea cakes, mincemeat pie, lemon bars, shrimp cocktail, and plum pudding with hard suace. Does that say love or what? (I can hardly wait to see what others bring.)

As I suspend the bulk of my regularly scheduled work life to be present with some of the amazing people who enrich my life, my sincerest wish is that everyone else enjoys the same opportunity.

Happy holidays!

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