For the next couple of days I will be out in the wilderness at Caitlin’s family lakehouse. My mama is helpfully posting these entries out of the goodness of her heart! Thanks, Mom.
My uncle Rick is the luckiest man alive. He and my Aunt J live at the shore in a gorgeous house that he designed and built himself—he has a degree in engineering from Rutgers and practiced under MacGyver—with my two lovely cousins and their somewhat domesticated Babycat. The house is surrounded on four sides by the bay—the property is pentagonal—and he spends his days surfing, coaching volleyball, teaching science, parenting, and designing clever contraptions to contain pet food and the like. My Aunt J is a professional and a welcoming and kind domestic goddess, and to my undying gratitude, one of my two Italian aunts.
I have written previously about the luck of the Irish when it comes to marrying Italians, and I can’t say it enough. We are so lucky. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a good cook, because shhhhhh she doesn’t know she’s not Italian and we don’t have the heart to tell her! But that is neither here nor there.
Uncle Rick and Aunt J host Christmas dinner for my mom’s side of the family, and it’s usually a relatively subdued affair, compared to our other holidays, some of which can get rather rowdy and several of which are entirely made-up. Thanksgiving is our big production, so by Christmas, we are all ready to hang out, watch some movies, and discuss the various spellings of asparagus. (If you think there is only one spelling, you are misinformed. And dyslexia probably does not run in your family.)
There are deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, and onion dip. (There’s ALWAYS onion dip.) Aunt J makes a roast and asparagus, and homemade gnocchi. Ahhhhh, the gnocchi. Gnocchi gnocchi gnocchi. I love gnocchi. Everybody looks forward to the gnocchi. It’s substantial and a little chewy, and she makes the most delicious meat sauce, that stews on the stove all day. It’s so fresh and tomatoey, and the aroma fills the house. First, we say grace. Then, the table is completely silent for several minutes, as we all cram our faces with good food. Mmmmm. And then the conversation gets going again, and we almost forget how lucky we are.