I LOVE any variations on this fresh green bean preparation. This year I added the fresh beans to a whole vidalia onion and plenty of mushrooms and garlic which had been sauteeing for about ten minutes in earth balance and olive oil, I stirred the beans in the pan for only a handful of minutes more, then stirred in gobs of fresh dill and lemon zest, uncooked. This doesn't really need to be hot, it's great at room temperature which helps with the tricky timing a holiday meal can sometimes present. It's also amazing cold, the next day. This beats the pants off the old standby of cream of mushroom, canned beans and canned onion rings, as nostalgic as that casserole tends to be in American culture.
Along with these veggie offerings, Dad prepared a little turkey - 7 lbs. or so since there were only a few poultry eaters, and he sweetly altered his famous, fabulous sage, mushroom bread dressing for my vegan sensibilities, since it is my very favorite. Thanks, Dad! It was soooo good!
As I mentioned, we took an extended trip to the D.C. area to be with family and friends over Christmas. While we were gone for over 10 days, no grass grew under our feet. We started out in Williamsburg, to see my alma mater for the first time in many years, then travelled to Richmond to see my grandmother, who will be 97 in August(!), my aunt and uncle and cousins and their families. Driving north, we overnighted in Fredericksburg where Dad lives, then continued to Alexandria, Old Town to be exact, where Andres surprised me with a couple of my college friends and their families. All along, we shared stories with the kids of our lives as newlyweds living and working in our nation's capitol. Visits with more cousins, while touring downtown museums, ensued, and we arrived in Rockville, MD, for Christmas eve, at the home of Andres' mother and stepfather. There were many, many family members there, 25 or so, I think, and Oma hosted the evening with aplomb, in her typical German fashion. It was so good to be with people we've not seen in a while. The next morning we headed south again, to Dad's house, where we finally caught up with my brother and his family from China. We obviously don't get to see enough of them, and being with those whose experience this year has been similar to what I'm living through without Mom was a balm.
To celebrate Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary, which would have been June 16, 2012 if Mom had lived, my brother, and I, along with our families, presented them with a gift certificate for a culinary weekend at The Inn at Little Washington. This amazing Inn and restaurant is in Washington, Virginia, which has some historical significance. The restaurant is world renowned. Thank goodness we decided to present the gift early. Mom and Dad opted to use the gift certificate for a couple of dinners instead of staying overnight since they live only an hour away from Little Washington. They celebrated Mom's birthday a little late last year, since she was getting over a cold on her birthday, but they both did get to enjoy the very special experience of dinner at the Inn. Mom's birthday is January 3. Happy Birthday Mama!
While we were with Dad, the day after Christmas, he treated my family and Brit's, all nine of us including Dad, to a dinner at the Inn. It was so special and magical, and Mom's presence was palpable. When I hugged Wynne, we were each surprised to feel as if Mom was hugging us instead. We all smiled, warm in her continued embrace. Where else would she be in that moment?