All of the Thanksgiving visitors have left for home. The relatives that will show up at Christmas are making plans for their visits. What should we do in the meantime? Maybe host a party? Invite everyone we know?
December is in the thick of holiday parties and my birthday is in there, too. Let’s do it!
For about ten years we hosted a major Christmas party for friends and family. We would plan for weeks, deciding what food to serve, how much beer and spirits to buy, and what the specialty would be. We loved hosting parties and making memorable holiday gatherings.
I think we succeeded.
Sometime in October planning started. One issue faced each year was a competing party hosted by my work buddy Tom. We didn’t want to land on top of each other because lots of friends were on both invite lists. Then we tried to find a weekend when most of our best friends could be at our house. Scheduling these things was a huge piece of work. We invested far too much time in that activity.
A most pleasant memory of the parties is the year we happened to have the party on St Lucia’s Day. December 13. It’s a big Scandinavian celebration, complete with candles. Our friend Christine was true Swede, and she showed up in full costume, complete with the candelabra head-gear. A half-dozen tall, brightly lit candles, complete with real fire at the top tingled my latent fear of fire, just a little. Christine had beautiful, long blonde hair, just inches from all that fire. And she walked through the house, the crowded house, all the way through the living room, dining room, to the kitchen and back out the front door. The image burned into my memory. Beautiful.
The St Lucia crown fit perfectly with all the Christmas decorations. We went all out in those days, complete with a real pine rope down the banister. Judy baked dozens of Christmas treats, sharing most of them with party goers.
Each party featured one tasty morsel. Something everyone would like. Something unavailable in Rochester. White Castle hamburgers. The week before I’d call someone in the cities at White Castle to order a case of frozen sliders (AKA hamburgers). Just for giggles I’d also order a pack of nails, which some people call French fries. A couple of days before the party this huge box would show up on the front porch; sliders and nails packed in dry ice. It was all I could do to not rip the box open and slam down a few sliders just to enjoy the smell and taste, to say nothing of the mouth feel of a frozen burger.
All night at the party I’d try to give away those burgers. Some folks would say, “Sure, give me one or two.” Many would decline completely, asking me to let them know when I’d be done cooking them in the microwave so they could get back into the kitchen. I had a great time extolling the virtues of White Castle.
White Castle isn’t part of my diet these days. My most memorable visit to a White Castle was in 2004 when we went to a movie with Brent and Mara. The movie was in limited release, the nearest theater was The Lagoon in Minneapolis. On the way we stopped for lunch at the White Castle on Lake Street. Not the best of neighborhoods. The movie was Super Size Me, a documentary about what happens to a man who eats nothing but McDonald’s for a month. While we watched the movie each of us were belching the remnants of sliders and nails. Now each time we drive by a White Castle I get a little wistful and briefly long for one of those little square burgers. Briefly.
Back to the story.
Our White Castle parties lasted about ten years. They were great fun, but life goes on. After one party, we looked at each other and said, “Meh. We’re done.”
In 2014 we thought about reprising the White Castle parties, but just couldn’t get the energy up for one. Instead we put together a plan for a little summer pot luck. We had a great time, so good that we hosted another in 2015. Maybe next year? Or not. Whatever.
- On December 3, 2015 Christine, pictured above, left us after a difficult time dealing with cancer. I prefer to remember her as young and beautiful, exactly as shown in this photo. We miss her love and energy.
- White Castle photo credit: By Ike9898 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons