This year I had the best Christmas present I could ask for – the presence of my very best friends in Ecuador, in my home on Christmas Day.
I’ve not hosted any real gatherings here, much less a holiday. As I’ve mentioned before and the rest of my family can attest to, my mother was an amazing cook and consummate holiday hostess. Although I know I shouldn’t be, I’m still a bit intimidated living in her shadow and knowing I could never measure up. That is coupled with the fact that my goal in life is to make it to the end without ever cooking a turkey (and with 51 years under my belt, I think I’m going to accomplish it). So I’m not super confident about hosting holiday gatherings.
But this year, our friend Rick is here for his first Christmas in Ecuador, having finally retired and completed his house in Mirador San Jose. He just moved here “permanently” last week (other than making annual visits back to Canada). That, along with the fact that Bill and Elaine have hosted me for countless (and I do mean countless) gatherings and meals over the past three years, I really wanted to make their Christmas special. So I invited them for a non-traditional (although hopefully tasty) Christmas lunch. I included our former neighbors Mesfin and Sam, although sadly Sam couldn’t attend because he was hosting guests at his bed and breakfast.
Everyone arrived about 1:30 and after a small gift exchange, we feasted. Elaine brought raw veggies and two dips, as well as her famous pickles, pickled beets and pickled green beans. I made “angel” eggs, tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil, broccoli chicken devan, and my mother’s & aunt Dora’s famous “nilche” recipe (an Italian dumpling made with flour, eggs, butter and Parmesan cheese). For dessert we had chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal “no-bake” cookies.
After our meal, we just sat around talking, telling stories and laughing (and Mesfin even took a little snooze). It was a quiet, relaxing and pleasant Christmas Day with the ones here who are nearest and dearest to my heart.
I have had several behind the scenes challenges to deal with in my life lately. But one of the things I love most about this time of year is the chance to stop, put it all on pause, and focus on the most important things in my life – faith and friendships. I wish for all of you peace on earth and good will towards men – and may God bless us everyone!