Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Catching Up After Christmas…

There’s sometimes…well, almost always…a story to Christmas. A certain way the year went. Some holidays are better than others, some are sad, some are happy, some are joyful. This Christmas’s story trends more toward the latter.

Of all the presents we got for our little granddaughters, the ones that I’m happiest about are just plain old-fashioned notebooks. A red one for our oldest granddaughter, and a blue one for our youngest.

I started out drawing Santa Claus flying over the Santa Ana mountains (which are between our house and my Stepson’s house) on Christmas eve in MY black 3-subject notebook. I have that notebook reserved for poetry and artwork. I plan the whole notebook to be a work of art in the end. Each of my granddaughters helped with coloring a bit of the picture after I finished drawing it. This was on the afternoon of the 24th. My Stepson’s wife made a ham dinner. It wasn’t too long after this that our young granddaughters were tucked into bed, all the better to dream of Santa’s pending arrival sometime that night.

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 Late in the evening, I started drawing a poinsettia in the notebook, patterned after some holiday napkins on the kitchen table. The one in the notebook now has some notes about a few Christmas firsts for my granddaughters, penned in green ink to be remeniscent of the leaves that make up the full planting of that day.

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 Still earlier in the evening, somewhere between the poinsettia and Santa but after dinner, we all took what I like to call a “Christmas cruise,” where we drove around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. One house had a giant wooden moose:

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 Still another house was all done up in peppermint:

The BEST house, however, was the one that made my granddaughters’ eyes truly light up. There’s only rarely ever snow in Southern California. They were calling this house the “Elsa” house, because it was all in blue and had a snow machine mounted on the front porch, and it reminded them of the movie “Frozen.”

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 I didn’t take much for pictures the next morning after Santa arrived – we’ve all seen a million little kids tearing paper off presents – but I plan on drawing a few memories from that night. The girls were tucked in the night before, and even I fell asleep after drawing as much poinsettia as I could stay awake for on Christmas Eve, but the girls had a super-cool present that morning from their elves on the shelves, Danny and Rosie:

That was one of the best parts of the whole holiday! Our granddaughters now had picture proof of the existence of Santa to take to school!

As I go by “Nono” in my granddaughters’ house, I had to fulfil some of my “Nono” duties, and make homemade pasta sauce (Sugu) just like my Noni used to make when I was little.

It starts out with just a 50-50 mix of tomato paste and tomato sauce. Then you add fresh garlic, fresh onion, one browned and cut to one-inch chunks mild Italian susage links, a pound of browned and chopped chicken liver, and lots of Italian seasoning and sweet basil, and the juice from three key limes. (That last is my own little twist.)

It simmered on the stove from 09:00 am until 05:00 pm. The rest of the Italian sausage was browned and then simmered in a pan full of sugu from 01:00 pm to 05:00 pm. So the sausage simmered for four hours, and the pasta sauce for eight hours.

Of course, with this meal, we had fresh-grated parmesian cheese. After all, that was my job when Noni made the pasta – grate the cheese!

Of course we had pierogi, sauteed onions, egg nog, ice cream, pumpkin pie, and custard pie. No one went hungry at this Christmas dinner!

Here’s hoping all of you had a verry Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year on the way!

PS: When we left, both of the girls were coloring in their new “art notebooks.”


Dan Stafford

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