Well the big day officially arrived here quietly tonight, as we were watching A Christmas Story, one of our annual holiday rituals, after we exchanged (per family tradition) one gift early ... Fernymoss got a microplush fleece blanket for those chilly times watching movies, and I got a 2009 Welsh Corgi calendar (yay!). As my year of Jack Russell Terriers winds to an end, thanks to Fernymoss I'm back to a Corgi calendar again, and there are some really handsome dogs in this one. I think it's safe to say we both liked these gifts, small tokens of promises for tomorrow morning.
All in all, it was a very relaxing (if a bit cold outside!) and warm evening spent with my sister and her boyfriend for our annual Nosh Fest and small gift exchange, after which I introduced them to the marvelous short film by Australian filmmaker, Adam Elliot, Harvie Krumpet, the 2003 Academy Award winner for best animated short subject. It's a very funny and poignant claymation short about a rather odd Polish man who emigrates to Australia where his life story is told from start to finish, alternately humorous and sad.... If you happen to have the Sundance Channel on your cable/satellite, keep an eye on the "Short Films" feature to see if this shows up (and they've been showing it again a bit recently) and give it a chance. You'll be glad you did....
Here's the spread I had prepared for tonight, nothing complicated, though I did putz around in the kitchen most of the afternoon preparing everything, but I managed to get two loads of laundry done and take frequent breaks to watch segments of the Food Network in between tasks, so it wasn't really a lot of work per se (unlike previous years ... I just wasn't up for that). So here's what we had ... from the left you can see the relish tray of Picholine olives, black olives and French cornichons, marinated artichoke hearts, shrimp cocktail and sauce, my (in)famous ham, cream cheese and green onion rollups, two baguettes I baked fresh just a few hours earlier, smoked salmon from Washington, and several of our favorite soft cheeses, Saga Blue, Italian Cambozola and a slice of Brie. I also had a crock pot of meatballs in marinara in the kitchen that didn't quite make it to the serving table in our dining room. And last, but not least, two bottles of this year's vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau, another of our Thanksgiving/Christmas traditions. This year's cuvée turned out quite nicely after a rather disappointing vintage last year, so we were all pleased with it and it went rather quickly. I didn't even end up doing the fancy hors d'oeuvre I had bought (crab cakes, mushroom and cheese turnovers and mini cheese soufflés) because everyone was content with making multiple trips to the serving table. Even though this looks like an incredible amount of work, compared to what I've been doing in the "real world of work" lately, this was a pleasure to prepare, especially for some of the people who matter most in my life.... We really enjoy having my sister and her friend over each year, because it's a very low key affair with no high expectations set, so we can just enjoy each other's company ... just what we were hoping for in this rather sad transitional phase at our house.
In any case, such was our quiet evening at home with family and friends ... And for you visitors and regular visitors, I hope you passed an equally enjoyable evening however you chose to mark it.... In this ultra consumerist environment of over inflated expectations (rarely met), we hope you found time to focus on the fundamental reasons why we gather together at this time of year and rediscovered the bonds that bring us all together, even if only briefly, due to life circumstances. Whatever the case may be, both Fernymoss and I send out our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season over the next few days, from our house to yours! It may be very cold outside (not to mention the way too regular snows!), but ultimately, the warmth comes from within, and that's where I've always thought it should come from!
IVG and Fernymoss