Christmas aftermath

Here it is, 1:30 a.m. the day after Christmas. Why is it I can never sleep during holidays? I think it must have something to do with not working hard enough during the day, so I'm not tired enough at night. Though last night I was dropping off around 8:30. Not sure why I'm so tired earlier in the night but wide awake halfway through. A nearly daily occurrence when on vacation.

Oh well, it gives one time to reflect on the important things in life. Like, say, I've decided there are two kinds of people: stackers and singles. There you sit at the table, dinner over, the detritus of a good meal all around you. When it's time to take the dishes to the kitchen, some people stack, scraping leftover food on to one plate, then placing each plate upon the other, all the silverware at the top. And some people like to take many trips to the kitchen, one plate in each hand.

I'm not a huge fan of inefficient movement, and I abhor making more than one trip, so it might surprise you to know that I'm a single, I'm not a fan of the stack. What makes the single more efficient is recruiting someone to clear the table while I start the rinsing of dishes. But if not, I'll still make several trips to the kitchen, with just a couple plates.

It must be how we grow up, how your own mother did things, that determines which way you do them as an adult. Don't you think?

For instance, I never once in my life had plum pudding for Christmas dessert until I visited London during the holiday season in my 20's. But for Tom, one bite of his grandmother's recipe, and he's back in a happy childhood. He loves plum pudding.

We've had good food this week, some of it nostalgic (like that plum pudding), and some of it quite modern (a fresh orange and honey sorbet flavored with cardamom and star anise). All of the main meals were dependably good as usual, my mother is an excellent cook. What's more fun lately is that my kids are starting to learn signature dishes and prepare them each time they are called for. That's something that will follow them in to adulthood.

I often wonder: what are the things my kids will remember and pass on to their own families? And I also wonder what new things they will learn from the families they marry into?

Later today we have our annual Christmas cookie making party with close family friends, which is a tradition I hope will live on in my kids and their own kids someday. It's pretty darn fun. I have a few loads of buttercream to make and color later this morning, in preparation for that. And Saturday night, we get to see the new Star Wars, which I'm really excited about.  Seeing the very first Star Wars movie in 1978 is part of my own cultural history.

I got some lovely gifts. I have a new vinegar crock and a vinegar 'mother,' so I'm all set to make red wine vinegar at home. I got some new cookbooks to help continue to inspire me in the kitchen, and some special airlocks for fermenting food in mason jars. Tom signed us up for a weekend at a farm near Mendocino, where we'll help cook local, seasonal meals in the farm kitchen. Do you sense a theme?

I'm thinking Kate got the best gift; a raft of special gift cards to hand out to the homeless people we encounter every time we take BART into San Francisco (although more and more, we are seeing homeless on every corner of our home city, Walnut Creek, as well). Kate has a very soft heart for hungry folks, so Gram found her this special service where she can hand out these cards which have $25 loaded on to them and can be spent on food, clothing, or lodging. When it gets light outside and everyone else is awake, I'll find them and let you know where you can get them, too.

It's cold tonight, a hard-freeze warning is in effect. The vegetable beds are snug in their row covers, I imagine the chickens are pressed cheek by jowl in the hen house, and Joe the dog has a new soft blanket to cuddle up in, which looks pretty cute I must say. Maybe I'll snuggle up in a blanket myself and see if there's something to watch on TV, or download that new cookbook I told you about. It's good to be cozy and comfortable at home, even if sleep is elusive. I'm thankful for plenty to eat and for family traditions, even silly ones like stacking or singles.

Merry Christmas, everyone.