We generally start the planning on the beach. Sprawled on a towel in Michigan, while the girls bury my feet, inspiration hits, often with a quick shot of sand to the face, about something I could assemble using cranberries, sage and walnuts. Jack responds with a wine offering, something he has pulled from the latest Wine Spectator, recently read on the back patio while fighting off mosquitoes, long after bed time. We move effortlessly into long and painfully dull conversations about goat cheese and gin, roasted nuts and tapenade, which entertain us for the remaining days of our summer sojourn.
But this year the wheels were slow to turn, for no real reason. We dragged our feet, the lists were short, without my usual mad scribble, and we took a very long time deciding which ridiculous project we were going to undertake weeks before the guests were scheduled to arrive. In the end we moved rooms, shifting four of our seven rooms, a project which really sucked the life out of my menu planning.
As always some things sound much better on the beach in Michigan, a tart shell topped with arugula, Camembert, walnuts and pears sounded simple and delicious, in execution it was soggy and pungent, not a best seller. Pink eye and the Remodel Project left me culinarily uninspired, but 93 friends wedged into our small apartment made me happy, albeit claustrophobic. More than twenty children under the age of six in any space is madness, letting them loose in our new playroom was simple insanity. And then Santa arrived and any thoughts of a child free party next year vanished.
Plenty of food, drink, joy and children, not to mention good friends, Santa and a priest from the church at the end of the street, the best recipe I could create for holiday cheer. Merry Christmas!