The holidays are fun, but for the host it can often be as stressful as it is enjoyable. I’ve only hosted Christmas once, but Sharon and I have been helping Mom put on Christmas for a crowd for as long as we’ve been able to reach the kitchen counter. Guests arrive before the festivities commence and their stay can linger till long after the Christmas decorations comes down.
And while having family and friends around is, for most, the greatest part of the holidays, it’s hard to keep on feeding the masses night after night. Entertaining or “having people over” may be Mom’s strong suit, but it’s no coincidence. It comes from years of practice and a career as a food professional, yes. But the real key to success is that she makes a meal plan for the holidays in advance, she keeps meals simple and most importantly, she lets other people cook. Sharon and I will make a quick soup for lunch. Andy and I will put on dinner for everyone or Dad will make his famous clam pasta. If nothing else, we’ll all sit around chopping and stirring.
A couple years back we took a post-Christmas trip to Washington D.C. We got back around dinnertime and everyone was hungry and tired, particularly Mom, after a weekend away on the heels of a chaotic Christmas. So on our way home, Andy and I quickly popped into the nearest grocery store, picked up a few surprise items and rustled up a quick shrimp curry which is now regularly requested by the family. Within minutes the big bowls of rice and curry were polished off. People loved having a break from potatoes, meat, vegetables and the typically heavy winter food we had enjoyed over the holidays. And Mom commented how nice it was to have a meal prepared for her while she enjoyed a well-deserved half hour with her feet up and a glass of wine in her hand.
Two lessons here: 1. Take care of the hostess around the holiday and 2. Sometimes it’s nice to make something out of season just to give your taste buds something to talk about.