Christmas on the Farmette

Author: Meera, December 26, 2012


Frozen cranberry souffle (foreground), cookies, trifle

Frozen cranberry souffle (foreground), cookies, trifle



Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year. The season is richly imbued with traditions that span cultures across the world. Although family traditions were always important to me, after enduring two cross-country moves and spending two years cleaning and renovating this farmette, my thoughts tend to focus more on future farmette projects than on resurrecting family traditions.



The carved Santa was a gift from my friend Leeanna

Carved Santa, a gift from my talented wood-carver friend, Leeanna Franklin


Still . . . we spruced up our home for the holidays by putting out festive nutcrackers, candles, and a hand-carved Santa. When my children were small, we elaborately decorated the house. Our farmette cottage is only a quarter of the size of our previous home and as-yet unfinished, so a bough of greens with red pepper tree berries seemed enough.


On Christmas Eve night, we entertained my daughter’s family and their friends in a progressive party. My daughter had proposed the idea a month ago.


The progressive party had been a family tradition before my first husband passed away following a heart transplant. Now I had a new spouse, a new house, and a new life. My daughter felt it was time to resurrect the progressive party tradition.


This year, the party would travel to two houses in Clayton, with our house as the last stop in Concord. All the houses were less than five to eight minutes apart.



Rum-flavored English trifle before adding dollops of whipped cream and nuts

Rum-flavored English trifle to be topped with whipped cream and nuts


Appetizers and and a glass of holiday cheer got things started. We played two games of bingo with the children. Bundled up against the cold, we traveled to the next house, my daughter’s home. There we dinned on a hearty meal of ribs (slow-cooked for six hours), mashed potatoes, and green beans.  After the meal, we pulled numbers from a bag that corresponded to a wrapped gift (all the gifts were white elephant presents or under five dollars). Gifts could be “stolen” from someone else, but only when it was your turn to choose.


The next stop on our progressive party was the Henny Penny Farmette for desserts. I had covered the table with a white silk tablecloth that I had purchased in Greece while writing my book, the Everything Women of the Bible. I picked blooms of purple iris and the last roses on the Sally Holmes bush and put them into a crystal vase for color. I placed crystal stemware upon gold trays, arranged forks in stacks alongside linen napkins. Finally, I put out some antique dishes to hold decorated cookies, a caramel cake, and candies.



Frozen cranberry souffle

Frozen cranberry souffle


It wouldn’t be Christmas at my house without the frozen cranberry souffle that I learned to make many years ago. Also I made an English trifle using blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. These fruits are layered with pound cake and egg custard. Just before serving, I add dollops of freshly made whipping cream and sliced toasted almonds. The desserts were paired with a choice of  coffee, chilled apple-pear cider, or tea. I also put out a bowl of ripe persimmons.



Hachiya persimmons, jelly soft ripe

Hachiya persimmons, jelly soft ripe


After saying goodnight to everyone and sitting alone for a bit after Carlos went to bed, I found myself wishing we had included a gas fireplace in our remodel. Maybe next year. I wanted to kindle the ancient light of fire, sit mesmerized by its dance, and invite into my consciousness the numinous presence of the divine. As the Irish Catholic scholar John O’Donohue wrote, “something begins to change when we can see exactly where the walls of limitation stand in our lives.”

Maybe I don’t really need a fireplace, I think as I gaze at the candles burning. During my reverie, my thoughts turned to the divine in appreciation for such abundant blessings. Our life here isn’t easy, but what life we are living!



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