We can all agree, I believe, that 2020 has been an absolute (fill in your favorite colorful and descriptive phrase here) shit show. I had no expectation, quite honestly, for Christmas to be any different than the preceding 345 days.
Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t going to the desert for Christmas, and would instead be home for the first time in a few years. Despite the more open vacation schedule, I wasn’t interested in taking on an elaborate dinner menu. I wanted to keep it simple. No projects.
I settled on homemade fettuccine with Lidia Bastianich’s bolognese sauce, rounded out with an antipasti tray and dessert platter from Cardona’s and a small loaf from Prinzo’s. Easy and delicious.
My sons and I had been on a streak – and not a good one. The last two family events we had intended to celebrate together ending up being major disappointments, instead of festive and fun. We’ve taken turns being responsible for the failure in our gatherings, but I was definitely feeling a little on edge about how this Christmas Eve thing might go…
In past years I might have channeled my stress into activity and a deep desire to try to make everything “perfect,” whatever the f*ck that means. Not this year, though. I did very little shopping beyond some small items from around Lark St and on Etsy. My older sons got money, which I sent to them via IPhone apps. None of the gifts were wrapped, nor did they spend a moment under our tree atop the handmade dress skirt we use every year. It was a bag or box to hand sort of situation.
We usually eat pretty early on holidays, 4:00 or 5:00 would be typical. However, there was a virtual yoga class I wanted to take at 4:30. I pushed dinner back without any pushback.
Instead of feeling that I needed to have everything ready to go to immediately feed my sons, I realized we could take our time. No one needed to be anywhere else. We feasted on the antipasti and bread, drinking a dusty bottle of red that I pulled out of my basement wine rack and, upon seeing the vintage year (2000), decided would be perfect. And it was.
We took our time, picking on the meats and cheeses, and each other, in equal portion. When we had our fill, I put the pot of water on to boil, near the burner where the red sauce had been simmering long enough to evolve into a darker, richer shade which was more brown than red.
I started making the pasta, dividing the dough into quarters which were then shaped into rectangles and fed through my beloved pasta roller attachment. My glass of wine and, more importantly, my three sons was/were nearby and I felt no pressure to move any faster than I was. The water came to a boil just as I began cutting the pasta sheets into consistently beautiful strands of fettuccine, thanks to the pasta cutter now mounted on my Kitchenaid.
Minutes later, we were again at the table. This time with bowls of pasta tossed in bolognese and finished with grated parm and a scoop of ricotta. It was delicious – my best pasta yet, for sure. I’m not ashamed to admit I had seconds.
After dinner, without a single protest, we took to the misty deck for our annual holiday photo shoot and had a hilarious time taking the best worst pictures ever. What can I say – it’s seems 2020 appropriate, doesn’t it?
There were no arguments, no hurt feelings, just full bellies. And hearts.
Merry Christmas and Peace in the New Year – and always, Silvia