Yesterday was a very full day. I woke up early and finely-diced twenty onions for my mother, then sauteed them, so she'd have onions ready for her chicken biryani (four large dishes full). I helped her assemble the biryani, picking up some fine points of technique in the process -- i.e., instead of just glopping all the rice and chicken curry in a bowl and stirring with a big wooden spoon, the way I've been doing, you're supposed to layer them (rice, curry, rice, curry, rice) in a flat dish and then use two forks to gently mix them together, so the rice grains don't all go mush. Much better. Now I know.
Afterwards, a shopping run, for a white tablecloth and candles and flowers. I promptly burned the tablecloth when we got home, foolishly resting the hot lighter on the fabric after lighting a candle, but luckily, a stack of dishes did a reasonable job of hiding the mark. I felt dumb. I had fun taking the bunches of flowers I'd bought and making little flower arrangements all over the house. If you take (1) bunch of white mini carnations, (2) bunches of ferny greens, and (1) mixed bouquet of white calla lilies, roses, and daisies ($22 total from Stop & Shop), you can create (4) largeish arrangements in various vases and bowls and (4) tiny ones in votive holders. Much fun, and my mom and aunts were impressed. :-)
Around 5-ish, people started arriving. One, two, three aunts and accompanying uncles. Cousins -- one college-age, one high-school age, and the remaining ages nine, five, five, and four. A horde, in other words. And this is barely half of my family; my sisters coudn't make it, and my mom has five other siblings in various parts of the country.
There were endless streams of appetizers, from the cheese and crackers which I was canny enough to avoid, to the Sri Lankan snacks I adore: curry rolls (hard to describe, but deep-fried goodness), chicken patties (not what the name sounds like), fish cutlets (ditto previous), stuffed shrimp, crab cakes (okay, those aren't Sri Lankan, but tasty anyway). I restricted myself to one or two of each, and I was still completely full. Which didn't impair my ability to eat biryani rice and curries (shrimp and lamb being the yummiest) a few hours later. Or interfere with my appreciation of my mother's delectable puddings (mango, bread, and caramel). I think I ate two days worth of food yesterday, but it was worth it.
One of the highlights was playing hide-and-seek with the kids; they hid, I found them in the guest bedroom, but pretended I hadn't, loudly commenting on how they *couldn't* have decided to hide in the haunted bedroom, with the ghosts that ate people. Then I turned out the lights and closed the door, leaving them in darkness. They screamed, and I ended up spending the next half hour cuddled with them on the bed, telling the story of the family who *thought* they had a haunted bedroom, but really, it was just the grown-ups *pretending* it was haunted so the kids wouldn't discover all their Christmas presents hidden in the closet. Hopefully I averted the nightmares.
Eventually the ball dropped, Kev and I kissed, we embraced what felt like endless family members (in my family, everyone kisses everyone else on New Year's), we gave shiny dollar coins to the kids for good luck in the New Year. They're supposed to keep them and not spend them for a year. Last I saw, the coins had become part of a wide-ranging battle heading up the staircase, which, since the kids had been complaining at one point that they were bored, meant that already the coins were bringing them the luck of being sufficiently entertained. :-)
I'm not really ready to do New Year's resolutions, I think -- Nilofer wants to get together and chart out a one-year plan for getting our resolutions accomplished. She does this every year. Sounds ambitious, but what the heck -- I'll give it a go. So stay tuned; you'll be hearing about that in a week or so, after I get back to Chicago. In the meantime, I'm going to hang out here, read books, help my mom with fixing various things around the house, take long walks in the snow, photograph pretty trees, try not to let my folks make me too crazy, and maybe write a little. Sounds good.