by Frances Edstrom
There is nothing quite as much fun as a house full of loved ones, but a weekend of the multigenerational crowd gave me a good idea why the tradition of the extended family all living under one roof is going out of style. Did I mention the presence of two dogs?
That said, there wouldn't have been Christmas at our house without the work and energy provided by my family, especially John and the girls. Cassidy and I had come up with a fairly ambitious menu for Christmas Eve, when John's sister and mother were our guests. We decided on Beef Wellington, a tenderloin covered with goose liver pat (which Nancy brought us from France) chopped mushrooms and onions, all wrapped in puff pastry. Accompaniments included basil-onion mashed potatoes, a green salad with poppy seed dressing and pomegranate seeds, and asparagus with parmesan cheese.
Morgan, Cass, her friend Liz and I divided up the chores and went to work. But since we had some time to kill, I took a nap, Dan and Morgan went to have lunch with Grandma, John shoveled snow and Cassidy and Liz decided to take a hike to Garvin Heights.
Smack in the middle of my nap, I got the phone call that Cassidy's car had a flat tire, and could we call someone to change it. Oh, yes, the car was stopped on a sharp incline on Garvin Heights Road. A Winona policeman came to the rescue, his presence slowing traffic so another car wouldn't smack into theirs. We called Borkowski's Towing, which sent a truck. It turned out that the driver was an old neighbor of ours on Dacota Street, where we lived when Cassidy was a preschooler, and his folks ran the neighborhood grocery store, Leifelds. Small town or small world?
Back home, we all tackled the cooking, which was wonderful. Then we tackled the dirty dishes, which were numerous, and since Christmas is one of the times I use the "good stuff" there was a lot of hand washing going on, which Dan and I took care of. Nan went off to play the chimes at Cathedral.
Christmas, we were scheduled to go to Nick and Lori's for dinner, so we took the leisure approach to the day. Early afternoon, however, we got a call from Nick, who reported that Lori was ill, and wanted to know if we could host the dinner. Lori had prepared nearly the entire meal ahead of time, so Nick brought it over in a laundry basket, and all we had to do was cook it.
We hauled out the Christmas dishes and napkins we had put away the day before, and started all over! Only this time it was for five more people. By now, all had our chores down pat, so things came together very smoothly.
By the time we sat down after dinner, and they brought out the Categories game, I was plumb tuckered, and sneaked off to bed to rest, which turned into a long winter's nap, and by the time I woke up it was morning.
All day Sunday was taken up with packing cars and saying goodbye. Then I was left with my new coffeemaker, new toaster and a drawer full of new socks!
Monday morning Morgan called, sounding awful, to report that she was ill with the stomach virus that had attacked Lori. Ah, yes, the start of the winter "flu" season that annually follows the holidays.
Cassidy is off to Los Angeles on business. Grandma is probably snoozing in her easy chair. Everyone else is off to work. The dog, who normally is pretty much a slug, has roused himself only once in twenty-four hours.
It is so quiet. I have only the rerun of Christmas memories to keep me from nodding off, too.