and for the moment, I am the only one awake. Six people, three dogs. Three kinds of coffee to be made. Food for the vegans and the carnivores. We have enough pillows but bring your own blankets. Yesterday my mother-in-law and daughter and I made multiple desserts. Here is a secret about Linda’s famous chocolate chip and m&m cookies and don’t tell her I told you. It’s the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package. Except, after you add the package of chocolate chips, you throw in an entire bag of m&ms. Honestly, I didn’t think there was enough cookie batter to contain this much chocolate candy. But Linda proved me wrong!
We also made the longtime favorite rum cake and a new recipe, vegan chocolate truffles, which we decide taste like chocolate brownies (secret ingredient: dates). We did not make the Danish potato sausage this year, a decades old family tradition that used to halfway freak out the kids, with the special-ordered sheep intestine casings and the raw pork. I never thought I’d say this, but I kinda miss the annual stuffing of the potato sausage, the kitchen turned into a science lab, the counters a biohazard. It’s the connection, though, to the past
and to the people who passed it on, and do we really want this tradition to end with us? Maybe we will resurrect this recipe next year. For now, we have the cookies and the rum cake and vegan chocolate truffles, the familiar Christmas carols, the jigsaw puzzle in partially completed chunks on the dining room table. Home is where the hearts are
and sometimes all the hearts aren't home and there are several new hearts. I don't know what I am trying to say. It's early and I haven't had my coffee yet because the coffee machine is loud and people are sleeping in the other room. Last night the dogs arrived, one a dear friend and the other a first time guest. My own dog was not having an easy time of it, but eventually she quit anxious-drooling and greeted the company. Now everyone is friends.
More guests (people, not dogs) are coming in tonight, some who have never visited us over the holidays, so we will have to bring them up to speed. Where we keep the towels and help yourself to the variety of desserts. I can already hear the laughing and the barking, some singer from the past singing about how she's rockin' around the Christmas tree and having sentimental feelings about people telling her to be jolly.
I have never had someone tell me specifically to be jolly, but I hear her on the sentimental feelings part or whatever that feeling is where you ache so painfully over the people who aren't here and at the same time feel you might burst with gratitude and love for the ones who are.
But for now, the house is quiet except for the old house creakings, and somewhere upstairs, the soft patter of a dog.