Thursday, December 13, 2012

Downton Abbey Style!

Jim Carter & Phyllis Logan from Masterpiece's Downton Abbey

So you know how, when you're hosting a big shindig and you pretty much become relegated to the roles of Butler and/or Head Housekeeper?  Well I have to say that David plays a mean Carson to my Mrs. Hughes and we rocked the crap out of open-house entertaining last Saturday at our Annual Holiday Tea.

"Hi!!  So great to see you!"  kiss/hug/chuck upon shoulder - gracious acceptance of fetching holiday ornament/wine/liqueur/truffles/trays of treats.

"What can I get you to drink?  We have warm cider...."

"Oh, cider would be lovely!"

"We also have mulled wine this year...."

"Mulled wine?!?  Why I've never had mulled wine, I'll have some of that..."

"You just come right on in here, while I get you that drink!!" 

First sip of mulled wine hits the palate... "My, that's got a wee bit of a kick to it!"

"How is (fill in name of non-attending spouse/child/parent) doing?"

"Great!!  Great!!!  S/he/they just finished a (blank)."

"That's amazing!  I was going to ask about the (blank)!"


"Please make yourself at home.  And eat!!  Eat!!  Rissa's labeled all the food types on the table!*  I'll just grab the door."

This basic conversation repeats in an endless loop from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.  I poured out as many as 6 mugs of mulled wine for myself, but drank only one over the course of the day as I kept putting them down when I was answering the door or replenishing the Nanaimo Bars/Norwegian Sugar Balls/Gingerbread.

"Hey folks!!  There's chili!!! There is a ginormous pot of chili in a slow cooker on the counter!!! Help yourselves!!"

"Put the cat down!"

"How old is he now?" gazing upon adorable toddling child.

"Ten months!"


"Who wanted the Butterscotch Schnapps in their cider??"

"Mummy, the baby is totally falling asleep in my arms!"

For David and me it is the opportunity to open our home to all our friends and family while spending pretty much no quality time with anyone - apart from the first two guests who show.  It's kind of like your wedding day.  Filled to the brim with people you love, but all a blur... For Rissa - it's the greatest game of MANHUNT ever played.  We had 15 children between the ages of 4 and 14 racing through the house - cracking the caulking on the crown mouldings with their combined weight and ear-splitting shrieks of holiday joy. 

But, by the end of the day - when I count off the 75 or so folks who made it out and seemed to have a good time - it's always worth it.  It's our tradition.  And (but wait there's more!) our wine rack is now totally stocked!  We won't have to pay for a bottle of wine over the holidays!!

Day turns to evening and then to night.  The three of us (plus various cats) snuggle down on the sofa in the family room - the fireplace ablaze, the TV bright and we watch Babe and smile and sniff - because Farmer Hoggett had it right... "That'll do Pig...  That'll do."

*A few years back, I got these nifty little ceramic placecards to put in front of food trays, which you can write on with dry-erase markers.  I presented them to Rissa last week.

"What are they Mummy?"

"They are to label the dishes on the buffet table."

Nearly leaping out of her skin she's so excited!!!  "You mean I can label specific treats and desserts?!?"

"You can indeed!  All you need is a dry-erase marker!"

"Could I get extra-special new dry-erase markers - you know just for the Holiday Tea?!?"

"Whatever decorates your gingerbread house kid."

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