Are you one of those easy-going people who take life, unquestioning, at face value? If so, I’m jealous. I’m not. I question everything. Like, why do we all drive ourselves crazy in December? Why do we cram in all of the fun activities and merrymaking, and gift giving, and parties, and charity, and special events in this final month of the year? Is this due to our human procrastination flaw? That we realize in the final month of the year that we haven’t met our annual quota of the above activities, and we need to make sure we get it all in before it’s too late and the calendar flips to the new year? I have a tendency to turn into a real Grinch when I think about what we do to ourselves in these final few weeks, and if it weren’t for Louisa who loves Christmas, I would walk around scowling the entire month. Instead, I’m trying hard to accept that’s what happens in December, and that we need to enjoy the moments and festivities while we can. Look at that, a lesson in Zen from a teenager.
And so, on Sunday, Joe, Louisa and I went to a holiday event at a Victorian mansion in the area that we had never visited before. It’s a really magnificent house from the early nineteenth century, the kind of grand estate where you see huge eagle sculptures welcoming visitors at the gates to the property. Each holiday season, all of the regional garden and community clubs decorate a room for the holiday, and then they open it to the public for tours.
As we waited outside for our turn to enter, carolers entertained us with all of the classic seasonal hits.
And this dapper man walked around keeping his sassy reindeer in check.
Inside was just as grand as the outside with fixtures such as this sparkly chandelier waiting to be discovered at every turn.
Every room was decorated in Victorian style, even this charming children’s bedroom.
The original woman of the home was both a doctor and an herbalist, very unusual for this time period. In her room they had medicine bottles and an herb drying rack on display. I need to get one of those next year so I will remember to harvest my herbs before they go to seed. I forget all about my garden once September rolls around. So bad.
After a busy holiday outing, I wasn’t in much of a mood to cook dinner when we returned home that evening. Joe volunteered to take out Italian food for our Sunday dinner. But, then, there was an exciting football game on tv, and I didn’t have the heart to pull him away. Yes, I could have gone out to pick it up too (I know some of you were thinking that), but I was tired of being out, it was dark, it was chilly, and the thought of going back out didn’t appeal to me. Instead, I chose to cook my easiest Sunday pasta, adapting it to the ingredients in my pantry. I started with my basic recipe for One Pot Pasta with Mozzarella, and used sliced Asiago cheese instead, since that’s what I had in the refrigerator and it needed to be used up anyway. Instead of spaghetti I used long fusilli wires, which we used to call “telephone wires” in our house growing up. Okay, if you’re under 25 you probably don’t even know what a telephone wire is. I’m sorry, go to a museum sometime and take a look at old telephones. Finally, to smooth out the sauce at the end, I added a few dashes of half-and-half. I would have added cream, but didn’t have it in the house. Honestly, the recipe didn’t work as well with this shape as it does with spaghetti since this shape broke up as I was trying to submerge it in the liquid as it cooked. But it still tasted just as good.
Was this a good decision versus going out for takeout? I’m not sure, it certainly didn’t save me time, all things considered including clean up. But the pasta was just as good as takeout, it was a lot less expensive than taking out three dinners, and psychologically it was more restful than going out again in this season of self-induced busy-ness.