I went across the lake to my aunt’s for the holidays. Though I’ve always tried to lend a helping hand, I decided that this year I was no longer a guest waiting to be served marvelous meals. I helped with cooking and cleaning and wrapping gifts and wrapping more gifts and selecting last minute gifts and wrapping even more gifts.
Midday, we were summoned to the back patio to see… a full length double rainbow.
The Christmas Eve dinner was just family. Lots of kids, lots of love, lots of good food, lots of fun. Afterward, we opened the, literally, hundreds of gifts surrounding the tree. It took far less time to tear all that paper off than it had to fold and tape it on, but everyone got things that delighted them and no one left empty handed.
That night, a few of us went to the boat and hung out. It was seriously cold but I was right where I wanted to be, surrounded by love and laughter.
Christmas was basically a replay but with more friends, less family. I’m learning about southern cooking and cooking in general. Leftovers from the day before became the basis for a casserole (or a soup, etc.). I learned you actually CAN have more than one cook in a kitchen. My cousin was able to get all her dishes done while I prepped others and three neighbors cooked three separate dishes. And I learned that, no matter what, you can always add more butter and seasoning in the south.
Being in my aunt’s kitchen reminds me of being in the kitchens of my best friends from high school. Their mother is from Italy and one of them lived in Italy for as long as I lived in Los Angeles. I always saw their kitchens as windows into an ancient way of life. Their food had a purity of culture and the conversations had while making it were the same conversations women have had over boiling pots since the invention of fire. In a time of blended families, urban living and disposable everything from diapers to cameras, it’s nice to have a through-line, a connection to where I came from and how the people here have lived for centuries.
Then we went on the boat and disposed of some beers.