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December 19, 2010

When in college, I cared for a wonderful women who was then in her 90s.  She was grand and elegant, playful and wise, and utterly adored by her friends and family.  When she entertained, she threw beautiful and festive dinner parties, filling her home with dear friends, engaging conversations, and much laughter and merriment.  She loved to prepare the meal, and took great care in setting the table for her guests.  During the evening, she maintained a house rule that no dishes should be taken to the kitchen or washed by anyone present.  She’d say, “I have all tomorrow to tend to dishes, but only tonight to linger with friends.”  Then, on the morning following, she took pleasure in reminiscing about the previous night as we hand-washed the bone china and dried the silver.  I think hers was a lovely policy, and it’s one I have adopted for my own home:  dishes can wait; it’s the moments together that are to be cherished.  As I readied our house and prepared food for a dinner party recently, and as I cleaned up from it the following morning, memories of her brought a smile to my face.


The day begins quietly, doing all the little things …

making soup stock, chopping and prepping, setting the table.


When guests arrive, a fire roars in the fireplace, Christmas music plays, dinner warms in the oven.


On the menu:

Salad of butter lettuce and arugula


Spicy roasted red pepper soup with a piped creme fraiche tree


Coq au vin with haricot verts and warm baguettes


Good cheer, good wine, good food, good friends!


But the night goes too quickly …

the candles burn down, the dessert plates are licked clean, the time comes to reluctantly say good-night.


The morning after …

stacks of clean china and silver,

and the warm glow of memory of a night shared with fine friends.


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