"We need red solo cups, paper plates, napkins, a tablecloth, and a lot of lunch meat for sandwiches," my mom advised me shortly after learning that my sisters and some members of their families would be joining us for a five-day Christmas visit. Some of them will be sleeping at Mom and Dad's house and some at ours, but Emma and I will be preparing both houses.
"And canned biscuits. Lisa and her children like canned biscuits," she added, thinking hard.
My dad started telling me about how he wanted me to order hickory nuts and how delicious they are. By the next day he had been shopping for nuts online and discovered Black Walnuts coated in dark chocolate. He asked me to order them. His face would light up like a child's every time he mentioned them. So far that has been two to three times a day.
"They're going to go pretty fast once everybody finds out how good they are," he confided to me, grinning happily. "Make sure you order enough."
Where were my thoughts?
I began dreaming of pig roasted outdoors on a spit with all the menfolk gathered round in the heady smoke, talking and laughing and speculating on the doneness of the meat.
And I dreamed of succulent goose and duck. I could see them each in a roasting rack in my oven, dripping juicy goodness into the pan.
And I dreamed of moving our dining room table into the living room in front of the fire and placing silver goblets of wine and heavy tankards of ale at each place, and...
I don't actually own any silver goblets or heavy tankards, but I imagined them just the same.
And purple cabbage and collard greens and sweet potatoes and cranberry salad. And dogs under the table! Flickering candlelight and ancient Christmas carols playing in the background with all my dear ones gathered round about.
Dear Baby Jesus in his manger at last.
I grew restless to begin.
So this morning Emma and I bundled up in sweaters, jackets, hats, and gloves and hurried to the farmer's market to arrange for the procurement of the desired delicacies.
First stop, the duck and goose booth. We decided on a ten-pound goose and an eight-pound duck. We put down a deposit and were instructed to return to the market early Christmas Eve morning to pick up the freshly-slaughtered birds.
Next we visited the pig man. I've bought pork from him many times before but never a whole pig. I arranged with him to pick up two suckling piggies--a 15 and a 16-pounder--at the market on Christmas Eve morning when I pick up the birds. He said he would send me a picture of the lil porkers so I would know what to expect. He promised to put a coin over each of their eyes because he feared I would be disturbed by their missing eyelids, which for some reason are removed during the butchering--surely a most creepy practice.
Maybe crispy-fried pig eyelids are a delicacy somewhere and they sell 'em separately to make more money! At least they left the pigs' heads on. I wouldn't want any headless pig. That would ruin the whole dream for me.
Our business with the pig man completed, Emma and I sampled juicy sweet Satsumas at a booth across the way. We bought ten, and we also bought a bag of Navel oranges from another vendor. I plan to put some in everybody's stockings. Then we found these delightful long and thin sausages that I thought would be great in the stockings too. So we bought an assortment of those and added them to our bag. We stopped at several other booths for individual little gifts. Such great fun!
Unfortunately, we couldn't linger, as we had to hurry home to give Grandma and Grandpa lunch. While I did that, Emma worked on decorating the rest of the gingerbread cookies she had baked for St. Nicholas Day. Seeing her handiwork along with all the goodies we had brought home from the farmer's market made me think, "This is good. This is very, very good."
I am looking forward to lighting the pink candle this Sunday and the fasting of the Ember Days next week.
And contemplating the fullness of time.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus!