Christmas was simply splendid. While never my favorite celebration, the holidays spent basking in luxury on ultra posh Caribbean cruises to escape the Mid Atlantic winter cold and our bittersweet memories remain a significant part of my former life. Last year, during my Napoleonic exile on the Garden State (Exit 145) I ate Kosher Chinese with Doo Wop Steve at the JCC Palisades while trading snide remarks with Israeli Guy at the Pork Lo Mein Without the Pork Station. That was actually not a bad holiday either.
My first Christmas across the pond was totally different, but that’s good. And I created some new memories, and traditions, that mesh with the New Jeano.
After Doing ‘til I dropped, I spent Christmas Eve morning cooking. Really. I did. I had decided to make a traditional Italian American Christmas Dinner for Marina’s arrival on Boxing Day. Through a Dealer I know, I scored some Progresso Bread Crumbs (slightly more difficult than getting hold of a bottle of aspirin in England). So I made what I modestly call the Best Meatballs in the Entire Fucking World.
And to prove I’m not exaggerating again, when I mentioned this to Stuart when he rang, he made me swear I would freeze a couple in a zip-lock baggie, wrap them up like a Christmas present and send them home with Marina. And when Bagpipe Guy came over for our little ‘Christmas Party for Two’, I made him a meatball sandwich. He was gobsmacked. Somehow, he had gotten the idea that I don’t know how to cook. I have no idea how. Not that he minded; beautiful and sexy was enough for him. But, trust me, now he’s really chuffed.
And I’ve discovered a damned fine way to celebrate Christmas Eve.
The New and Vastly Improved Bagpipe Guy is amazing. Scarily so. He’s sooo sweet. (God. Do I sound like I’m fifteen, or what?) Although we had a teensy row last week…about him cancelling a date. He called me a ‘JAP’. Honestly, if he’d said “That sweater is so wrong with those slacks” or “Your thighs look ginormous in that”, I would have really been pissed off. Not that he ever notices what I’m wearing. At least ‘til we get to the good stuff. I just said kindly like he was clueless or something, “Well, Duh, Sweetie. Of course I’m a JAP.”
BP really put a lot of thought into my pressies. I’m not going to discuss what they were. I was touched. And for a change, I’m not being sarcastic or JAPPY. I put a lot of thought into his, too. I think he was pleased.
BooBoo and Cheese Boy came over later to exchange pressies, but it was an early night. I had thought about doing The Seven Fishes to thank the Italians for my wonderful citizenship and stuff, but, hey, I made meatballs. Basta!
I had to be up and ready to rumble early on Christmas Day serving lunch to the poor, the homeless and the disenfranchised at the Salvation Army in Addlestone. (I picked out my ‘Being Charitable’ outfit the night before.) In that small town shtick that I adore, I knew about six of the guests from Tea Lady duty at the Senior Centre.
Every once in a while, not too often, it’s a good thing to realize how fortunate I am.
We started serving tea and biscuits at about 9:00 as the guests began arriving. There were 147 people booked for the lunch. Scores of volunteers dashed around setting the tables, and serving the old dears as the buses delivered them. There was a Christmas carol sing along, and then a religious service conducted by the Salvation Army Captain.
I was assigned to duty in the Kitchen then, where I met the Jew of my dreams. Santa Claus is way better than the Sex Fairy. I thought “Gee…I should have gone with ‘Friday night at Hymie’s Deli’ instead of ‘Being Charitable’”.
The guy who cooks the entire dinner every year. His name is David. He strolled into the kitchen and my Jew-o-meter shot directly to 10. He’s Jewish! He cooks! He’s really cute! And he’s circumcised! If he’s a Dermatologist or any bloody ‘-ologist’, his wife is toast! (Why are they always taken?)
My task was to put a serving of carrots and roasted potatoes on each of 147 plates as we fixed them in a huge assembly line to be delivered to the tables by other volunteers. Turkey: Check. Sprouts: Check. Sausage wrapped in bacon: check. And so on. It was hard work.
We did get to eat too, sitting amongst the guests. Of course, we got up to clear the tables and then serve 147 puddings followed by tea and coffee. There were games, Pass the Parcel being one, and Name the Singer, kind of like Name That Tune. Then Santa arrived, and Santa’s elves (we volunteers) helped distribute presents to everyone.
I did get a chance to chat with David while we were all clearing up. Hey, he might have a brother, cousin, uncle…whatever. I told him about the Thanksgiving Dinner for Sam, and he said he’d definitely help out when we do it next year. We exchanged details, and I got a sweet email the next day. He’d read my blog and made some funny comments.
I got home from the Salvation Army, and was too damned tired to get changed so I went to Christmas Dinner at Pinkie’s in my Being Charitable outfit. Terry cooked and it was a proper British Christmas dinner. Did you know they eat cabbage on Christmas? Yeah, I didn’t either. I wonder what that’s about. We exchanged our pressies, drank a lot of wine, and I had a brilliant time. I had to make it an early night again. Marina was arriving the next morning, and Bagpipe Guy was picking me up at the crack of dawn to pick her up at Heathrow. Is he not simply amazing?
So I did a mitzvah, met a Jew, was reminded that I truly am blessed, and had a damned fine happy Christmas.