Our house is uber casual…built from 100+ year old barns, it’s warm, comfortable, and cozy to a fault…literally. All of us agree that the livingroom sucks you in like a vortex. If you make the mistake of plopping on the sofa mid-day, you risk losing an entire workday to the simple luxury that only antique barnwoods and maple branches nodding gently at the windows can provide.
So, a little formality at the holiday dinner table is nice for me. Always a tablecloth and matching napkins, the right silverware, candles and the ‘good china’. Even that is a family affair…this year we did some fancy napkin foldin’, the grandkids help set the table and light the candles, and it was tons of fun.
For us, Thanksgiving and Christmas focus on one thing: being together. We concentrate on dinner, games and conversation. Our holiday dinners give us a chance to dress things up a bit! At Christmas, we cook a huge prime rib and each of our kids provides a dish and a desert. After dinner, we have a contest where we sample all the deserts and then have a friendly vote for whose was best. After desert we spend a little time outside on the pond (weather permitting), then break out the board games and go to it! This year we played broom ball on the pond, then came inside for Pass The Bomb, Monopoly (Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition is our version of choice because it has an endpoint! Had it for years.) and Scrabble, ‘natch. So much fun!
Our immediate family is fairly small…we only have 8-10 people. But from the preparation, time, love and joy we put into being together, you would think it was a huge group. Keeping the holiday table a formal, “just so” part of our gathering amid the casual comfort of our home makes it just that much more special. I love to think that some day my grandchildren will be doing some of the same traditions that savor family over the holiday table.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy New Year!