It’s a little odd that in a year in which we’ve done more cooking than usual we’ve posted even less here. But, hey, everything about this year has been strange, so I guess that our erratic posting habits shouldn’t be such a surprise.
Since she’d used all of her available leave time helping to care for me as I recovered from surgery, Christmas Eve was a workday for her—though the evening commute only took a couple of seconds; her office is our former guest room. We’d already carefully planned a not-extravagant menu, unlike that year when making dinner took so long to prepare and contained so many courses we barely finished before Christmas morning. A little shrimp cocktail, some crab-stuffed mushrooms, and clam chowder and fresh-baked biscuits: it all had easy prep and cleanup, and was incredibly tasty.
I’d taken the rest of the semester off from teaching in order to concentrate on recovery, and there were no late-night rehearsals and performances for theatre projects, so for the first time in forever our holiday marshmallow-gifts and Christmas cards were prepared and shipped early; we even had a little time to bake some cookies for us, and as gifts for helpful neighbors. Nana’s molasses cookies are fabulous, but the recipe is a family secret I’m not sure I even have access to. Snickerdoodles are reliable, as any recipe from America’s Test Kitchen should be. I finally realized the secret to making Peanut Butter Blossoms: however pretty they might be, ignore the Hershey Kisses and use high quality dark chocolate. About the Almond Linzer cookies she was so excited to try, perhaps the less said the better, save that any recipe with dough so fussy ought to deliver cookies that stuff themselves with jam.
It’s now the Monday after Christmas, when some Grinches have already taken down their decorations and left trees by the curb, but I’ve got one belated Christmas treat to share. (Or maybe it’s early for next year; you decide.)
Not so long ago—in fact, on the Monday after Thanksgiving—just as I was about to leave for my Cardiac Rehab session, I received an email from a composer-friend. Although we’ve known each other, and admired each other’s work, for more than twenty years, it was only this summer that we collaborated for the first time, when we wrote the closing number for a virtual version of the youth theatre program on whose faculty we serve. John’s email said, “Want to write a Christmas song?” It had attached the recording of a piece of music he had in mind—and with which I fell in love immediately.
Writing the lyric was as much fun as I’ve had in a very long time, and receiving the recording made by a terrific actress we know was maybe the happiest thing to happen this year. I hope that the expiration date for Christmas songs hasn’t passed in your holiday celebration, and hope even more that we will all share a peaceful, happy, healthy, and creative 2021.
Maybe It Will Snow. Music by John O’Neill, lyrics by Clay Zambo, performed by Gabrielle Stravelli.
I hope, too, that the New Year will be sweet and not so prone to breaking as these temperamental cookies.