The night before the night before Christmas dinner, held at the Sierra Grille in Northampton, was a lot of fun.
The five-course dinner featured five beers from Dogfish Head, the Delaware-based craft brewery whose slogan is "Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People." I went with friends from the year I spent at Wesleyan University as part of the 12-college exchange with Vassar; one of the guys, Gary Steinel, is a card-carrying Beer Drinker of the Year with more knowledge about beer than I ever thought possible.
Gary is friendly with Dogfish head founder and president Sam Calagione, host of the Discovery Channel's Brew Masters series, who entertained diners in between courses with tales about the beginnings of the brewery and the sometimes exoteric ingredients they use.
I like getting together with the Wesleyan friends, who include Rook, aka Jeff Van Nest, my old boyfriend and current good buddy; and another good guy, Mark Nickerson, an Amherst psychotherapist . When the three of them start chattering about things I don't understand, such as the super-duper components on Rook and Gary's bikes, it doesn't really matter what they're saying. Their voices sound just the same as they did a gazillion years ago at Wesleyan. It takes me back.
In deference to my delicate liver, I probably shouldn't have had quite so much beer, but hey, I hardly drink at all, and it is the holiday season.
Mark's daughter, Geneva, and his niece, Brittany,
brought some extra sparkle to our table.
Me with Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione.
My kids spent Christmas Eve with Jim in Enfield. I went to my friend Korby's house for her family's annual Christmas Eve gathering in Agawam. It was a festive event with a warm and friendly group of people, and I was happy to feel a part of Korby and Pete's extended family.
Korby prepared a scrumptious buffet, with the main dish, Portuguese salt cod, prepared by her son-in-law, Philippe, with help from wife Keegan (Korby's daughter) in keeping with Portuguese Christmas Eve tradition.
Korby, Philippe and Keegan with his Pièce de résistance
Tomorrow, Ben, Joe and Katie will return mid-afternoon. We haven't firmed up our plans, but I'd like to go out for Chinese food, the traditional Jewish Christmas meal.
Then on Sunday, I'll host the Day After Christmas Faux-Hanukkah party. We figured God would understand this rescheduling of a minor holiday that fell in early December this year. None of the college kids could come on real Hanukkah, and this way we can celebrate the way it should be done, with gift-giving, candle-lighting, family and extended family and good eating.
Well I hope the eating is good. We'll set the table with my mother's nice things, so at least it will look pretty!