Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giggle-proofing

Come Christmas Eve, I'm always reminded of a wonderful local custom which is, alas, no more. For many years before I became part of my husband's family and for quite a few afterward, a lady and her grown daughters hosted a Christmas Eve tea. Invitations were sent by phone to this 2-4 pm come-and-go dressy event. Mothers and daughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, visiting female family.

Girls only. Girls dressed in their finest. I'm not sure what became of the man of the house during this subdued madness, but I once heard rumors that he had barricaded himself in the den.

There were cookies and fudge and brownies. They must have cooked for days. We perched on the dining chairs which had been brought into the living room or we sat cheek-to-cheek on the piano bench or balanced on the arm of the couch. We held our delicacies on glass party plates and exchanged Christmas wishes and laughed. We laughed a lot.

Why? Didn't most of us have to return home to husbands and children and family and dinner and then Santa and...? What did we have to laugh about?

The libations. To be sure, there was coffee in a lovely old urn. Right next to it was the liqueurs. Available if one was so inclined. But the drink of choice was the Christmas Punch. I don't know what was in the recipe, but it was a guaranteed giggle-inducer, and one cup was truly enough.

The tradition lasted until our lovely hostess's health failed her. Now, she and her spouse have passed on. The memories linger. And, yes, I do wish I had a copy of that recipe. No one should be giggle-proof.

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