Wrapping Christmas

Mary Ann Fitzmorris December 27, 2019 10:35 Dining Diary

The Christmas gathering of my large family this year brought a much-needed epiphany. Maybe it’s that we don ‘t like change, or maybe we’re just slow to catch on, but we finally discovered something that we should have noticed long ago. We have been hosting large groups of people for holidays for about twenty years. We hosted large birthday parties when the kids were young. And always the big family Thanksgiving here which was very popular. The food was great. A good time was had by all. These gatherings went on for hours, and board games followed dinner, well into the late evening. 


And then we started to move the gathering somewhere else, Everyone loved our food, so we retained control of the foodservice, becoming sort of a caterer. Favorite dishes had gotten established. There were no holiday dinners that Tom’s root beer glazed ham wasn’t requested, and his cheesecake, and my spinach dip, and macaroni and cheese.


We noticed something different at these last few gatherings. There was a huge amount of macaroni and cheese left over. This phenomenon has been growing each year, until this Christmas, when we had an entire pan left of premium cheese macaroni and cheese. We had a whole pan of spinach dip too, and most of a cheesecake.


I was troubled by this until I realized that in the old days the macaroni and cheese was devoured by fifteen teenage kids, all of whom are now adults around thirty, who have little appreciation for carbs. Neither does my 45-year-old nephew, who brought Tupperware to each gathering and left with them filled. He’s a father of three now watching his health. And new people have entered the family, one of which brought a beautiful smoked salmon platter that kept everyone entertained until we arrived with the spinach dip that had always become a trough. They were all pretty full when we came in with a double batch of spinach dip.


It’s a good thing the crabmeat cheesecake I promised didn’t happen. Somewhere in the cooking it hit me that we were already bringing a cheesecake dessert. Was a cheesecake appetizer really necessary? Instead, I brought a hot crab dip which was very popular.  And gratefully small. And it’s a really good thing Tom didn’t do roast beef on top of all this food. 


There was an absurd amount of food, made even more so by the contributions of the hosts’ daughter who is now of age to be into baking. All the new dishes, and the older ones not as popular made for tremendous overkill. It’s a good thing hardly anyone knew I brought homemade peanut butter cups. (Pictured.) I wanted to try these peanut butter cups from Molly Kimball’s Eat Fit cookbook. But I made them with Trader Joe’s 72% chocolate and peanut butter ground from peanuts. No fake sugar added. These were good, but they remained uneaten too. They were compromised anyway. I burned the chocolate, and counted on the strong peanut butter taste to make it unnoticeable. The real test will come in CA when my peanut butter cup fanatic will try them.


One thing remained as it always was, a lot of people enjoying the company of each other. But the board games have been traded for groups going out for a drink after. Time moves on.