I use any excuse to make a chocolate dessert, and Christmas is one of them even though I’m Jewish and now celebrate Hanukkah (yet another excuse for something gooey and chocolatey). This year I made one of my faves, Triple Chocolate Trifle, which I’m reposting since it initially went up when I first started my blog and my traffic was hovering around zero. It’s layer after layer (actually four, not three) of different textures of chocolate–chewy fudgey brownies; a decadent pudding; chopped bittersweet chocolate; and chocolate whipped cream. Interspersed throughout for yet another texture/taste change are fresh raspberries. So rich! So good! So worth a try! In fact, this might be edging out Our #1 Favorite Chocolate Cake for the premier position–Bruce is equivocating (though he had heaping helpings and seemed to be smiling his way through each and every one), but Emma and I are pretty sure. Here’s what she had to say: ”Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.” She did not look up or speak while eating.
When I was single it took me years to figure out how to enjoy the holidays. The end of the story is that I eventually determined that the buildup was actually more depressing that the actual celebration days. So, finally I decided that I needed to go away before the holidays to avoid feeling like the only person in the universe who wasn’t busybusybusy with one fabulous party after another–I always felt I was on my own just looking at a giant Norman Rockwell universe with couples making love in front of the fireplace 24/7 and families happily roasting chestnuts together for two straight weeks.
I started going skiing the week before Christmas with a friend who had a place in Vail, then she came back to New York with me–every year we got tickets to Alvin Ailey at City Center on Christmas Eve and the next day we joined a gang of friends on Catherine Street in Chinatown for the best dim sum this side of Shanghai. It was actually a lot of fun, and then it was over for another year…which I looked forward to.
When Bruce and I got together, and Emma came along I had answers to all my questions. No, no and no. All couples were not making love in front of the fire 24/7; all families were not happily roasting chestnuts together; there were not fabulous parties every night for two straight weeks. But I could see the busy part: I would spend days making teacher gifts with Emma, wrapping presents for all sorts of people I had never had in my life before, sending out cards for all three of us, and on and on and on. I just made sure I never said how busybusybusy I was in front of anyone who was single and/or alone.
For the first time in my life I started celebrating Hanukkah with a big dinner the first night; there were also the lighting of the candles every night after sundown and eight (!!!) presents for Emma, which takes A LOT of shopping beforehand. We always have friends over, which is an undertaking especially on the heels of Thanksgiving after which I need a week to recuperate. Christmas? When I was growing up, we opened gifts then, not on Hanukkah, and we had a turkey dinner after a day of skiing. It wasn’t a religious issue. Rather, I think it was a practical one since my sister and I were out of school and we were all on vacation in Connecticut. It was just the four of us (all our family were in Chicago), and more than anything it was a day to be together, do what we loved and make/eat a favorite meal.
Well, no skiing in LA and we don’t go away because my Dad always comes to stay with us that week–not because of Christmas per se but because Emma is out of school and we can all hang out. On Christmas Eve we go ice skating after dark–well, Emma and I do; Bruce, my Dad and Guthrie watch–then we come home and have Toasted Bagels, Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon with a bottle of bubbly. On Christmas Day, we get up early and run out to the first show of a movie we’ve all been awaiting. Bruce and Emma saw Sherlock Holmes and my Dad and I saw It’s Complicated–the timing at the mall worked perfectly and everyone was totally happy! Then we came home, put a turkey in the oven and had a Thanksgiving-Day repeat with some friends. The party was still going at midnight….
I can’t wait until next year!