Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope it is a happy one. As I believe I have mentioned before, my family has celebrated both Chanukah and Christmas, but now we don't do much with either one.
My flight to Austin was delayed Sunday night so I didn't get in until after 11:00, at which time my brother and nephew drove me home and I pretty much went straight to bed. No Chanukah that night. It was noted and there was some discussion of setting up the candles Monday night, but nothing came of it, and not even the mention of it on Tuesday night.
Several years ago my siblings and I decided not to have any Christmas gift exchanges for the grownups, so we only got gifts for the kids. My older brother's kids are all grown up now, so it's just my younger brother's two children that still get gifts. It makes for a pretty low-key holiday, which is fine with me.
So why do I bother to go home for the holidays? I hear you ask. For one thing, because the overnight low in Chicago is 6 degrees F. and they are under a severe weather alert, and I am sitting outside under a cloudless blue sky in 70 degree weather right now. For another, I have been told, on more than one occasion, that my visit is what makes the holiday special for my family, and who could resist that kind of blandishment? Finally, I come because I get to spend two weeks doing nothing but hang around with my family, and what could be better than that?
Even though we no longer exchange gifts in the family, that does not mean that I don't get any presents. Two of my knitting students gave me a gift certificate to one of my favorite shops in the world, Pastoral. And it was delivered alongside one of my favorite items from that shop - lemon olives, so I am free to use the gift certificate on something new. That gives me one reason to come back to Chicago.
Another reason for me to come back home is the lovely bag of goodies one of my other knitting students gave me. She has surprised me every year with an unusual selection of items that always intrigue and challenge me, and this year is no different.
Those are flageleout beans on the top left, tender young kidney beans that I have been eager to try for a while. I'm thinking a nice cassoulet is in order, something else I have been eager to try.
I am equally intrigued by the Fusion Spicy Curry Sea Salt, and I have lots of ideas for this, starting with breakfast the morning after I get back to town.
Last but by no means least, I am excited about the croxetti pasta, which are disks of pasta, hand-stamped with detailed patterns from wooden molds. Historically, noble families would stamp their coats-of-arms on the pasta to signify their status. Often, a cross would be stamped on the other side, hence the name croxetti. In addition to the status, the more detail there is on the disk, the more sauce will stick. I can't wait to make something with this!
Once again, I am inspired. Thank goodness, because it sure isn't the weather that will bring me back home after the holidays!