Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"My sisters will be your sisters..." ~ Jane Eyre

During senior year of high school when my sister and I worked on productions together, my drama director would sing a bar from the tune that Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen made famous as the Haynes sisters...along with their big blue ostrich feathers...in the film White Christmas. We were usually arguing about something, so he belted the tune out with a smirk on his face, which then made us laugh, and then we let the argument go. (Though it would usually resurface an hour or so later...)

And if you are wondering if we got his reference, oh yes indeed. That was one of my favorite Christmas films as a child. Even at a young age, I truly valued the ending because of what I knew about my grandfathers' serving in World War II. It didn't take much to understand how much of a hero the General was in the film for getting all of his men, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye included, home alive.

I have spent all 28 Christmas mornings with my sister, and this year is the first Christmas I shall not see her Christmas Day. Oh, its all lovely things. She has decided to have an old fashioned English Christmas with our family friends in Britain. I am thrilled for her, and for them, and I know she is going to revel in the delightful aspects of Christmas across the pond. I recognize how spoiled I am in many ways, because this is a vacation after all and she isn't moving or anything! Still, I feel a bit melancholy about it. Kind of like how Rosemary Clooney felt a bit melancholy when she went to New York without Vera Ellen who stayed behind in Vermont.

And in an ironic twist, such as the ironic plot twists in White Christmas, I am upset because I do not get the same ending as the General. He gets his soldiers back and celebrates Christmas with them all. I do not get my soldier back...he is in the red zone south of Baghdad this holiday and not with me and my family. I don't even know if I will get to talk to him. I haven't heard his voice since September - just erratic emails and IM's here and there since he is so engrossed in the amazing work his brigade is doing.

So this Christmas Day I will not have my sister with me, or one of my best friends. So I am going to just dream of a white Christmas for next year, knowing I will have the two of them with me that day just like the ones I used to know.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Or white bread and new milk..." ~ Jane Eyre

Of course holiday decorating begins in the kitchen. If it were not for the kitchen, there would be no holiday. Decorating fireplace mantles or doors are not nearly as important as decorating the kitchen for Christmas...because all things Christmas begin in the kitchen:

carrots for the noses of snowmen
popcorn balls for the Christmas tree
hot cocoa and cookies for Santa
peppermint bark
mulled cider
gingerbread houses
buche de noel
vanilla extract for cookies
cookie cutters
roasting pans for Christmas dinner
the roast beast and who hash

Even frankincense and myrrh are actually something one can ingest.

Gingerbread is the decor in my kitchen - gingerbread cookies on kitchen towels, trivets, and placemats. I have a gingerbread shaped tier with cookie plates on the table along with print outs of various techniques on how to decorate gingerbread houses, for I plan to make one with Jack. I don't think I have made a gingerbread house since I was a child, so I look forward to going to the market with Jack so he can help me pick out the candy to decorate our house with. I think we are going to cut corners and use graham crackers. He loves barnyards and animals, so in my head I am trying to think about how to incorporate that into the design of the "house."

Already there are potential recipes for Hanukkah, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day which are clipped to my refrigerator: pastry encrusted salmon, sweet potato latkes, gingerbread cookies, potato gratin with Gruyere, green bean salad, jelly roll cake. I have special spices in tea bags for cider that I got up at a farm stand in Carmel, New York, and chocolate covered marshmallows for those nights when plain ones wont cut it for cocoa.

One of the greatest food experiences at holiday time in New York are the chesnuts made by the street vendors. You cannot stand on a corner on fifth avenue without inhaling the scent of them. There have been many times when J.Sarah and I have been looking at the windows at Lord and Taylor and caved in and bought chesnuts because the aroma is just all-incompassing to the senses.

This post has made my sense of taste anxious for breakfast...which will be spent sitting at the table and perusing more cookbooks as I eat in search of the perfect cookie to eat whilst trimming my tree next weekend...

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