As the nation was stricken by the horrific and devastating news of a tragedy in a small town in Connecticut, the heart of every mother and father in our nation and probably the world, skipped a beat.
For one second, we were paralyzed. Unlike 9/11, and the the effect and pain it caused, this tugged at our maternal and paternal nerves and instincts. Children were taken from us and it didn't matter if we knew them or not, if they were ours or not, when we all heard the news, they were ours in a way.
We all took ownership of the pain. Christmas time is an emotional, overwhelming time when we are all vulnerable and exposed. Where we want for a second to forget our crazy, dysfunctional, imperfect lives and for a moment, just believe that the spirit of Christmas can change, transform and illuminate our lives so that we can view what we once cherished as whole again and as close to perfect as can be. Heartwrenching, devastating pain that no human should ever feel. We all have to bury our parents, we are all aware of our mortality, and the natural progression of each of our lives. A child should never have to die.
Every year I count down 364 days until my Christmas Extravaganza. That's what I call it. It is the culmination of a lifelong desire to have my very own Christmas Special/ Entertaining soiree.
Growing up watching my mom hosting parties and being the perfect hostess grew inside of me over the years. I know it sounds so 1950 ish but I longed to have my own home and host my party with all the trimmings. When the news of the tragedy hit, it was 2 days before my party. I didn't know what to do.
It was obvious that no one would be in the same festive mood as before the news struck us all. I didn't know what to do. I felt guilty to even think of entertaining when 20 families were left stunned, ripped apart and changed forever.
My parties consist of hordevours, dinner, catching up with friends and my favorite part of the evening, when 7pm hits, our Christmas sing-a-long. In our group we have many musicians and singers and I have created the best song books and the time we spend in my formal living room singing is truly the highlight of my every year. I thought that it wouldn't be disrespectful to have it and that we would dedicate our group prayer to the children and families.
So this blog post is about last night and my Christmas Extravaganza.
I love making pie crusts and making my own chateubriand. Yes I enjoy that. I will be honest. It's a lost art.
This book I believe is responsible for all the party hosting craziness.
The ability to host a party is, shall we say, work, hard work! But when done, it is absolutely rewarding.
It all begins with my lists.
I'm notorious for lists. My friend Sonali and I share that obsession. We write lists for everything. And let me tell you the satisfaction I get to cross something off is beyond explanation.
I spend at least a week planning my menu. Looking for new things to try or the tried and true to perfect.
This was taken the afternoon before my party. My kitchen was starting to come alive with preparations. Please excuse the mess. I'm a messy cook.
Now the true star of the evening was my to die for chocolate cake. This was before I placed fresh raspberries on the top. It was so heavy it would actually make a dent if it fell on the floor.
I'm always torn with my love for capturing the moment, taking photographs at my parties and different events and split between my need to frame time and host a party. I was very lucky to have my niece and nephew do it for me last night. And I must say the results were emotionally gratifying.
So here we go!
This was my favorite photo of me and my sisters of the night. Terry, Sonali and Alexie and me, underneath Terry. I love how we all still had our makeup. I think it was taken early in the evening. So glad we have it. These women, I have known all my life. Since the age of 14. I'm 47 and they are 48 now. (Love saying that!) We have seen one another at our worst and at our best. We have shared secrets and become blood sisters (literally). We have picked eachother up during boyfriend disasters and survived many camping trips over the years where our only means of cleanliness were countless outdoor letrines and a 3 minute shower in a muddy group facility. We have mourned for our parents deaths and shared in our childrens births. We pray together, share everything and enjoy one another's company more than blood sisters could ever. I am who I am because of the influences from my parents first and foremost and then from the way in which these women have touched my life with their kindness, strength, courage and incredible faith in God. Friends are wondeful and fun to acquire but when you have a friendship bonded with the foundation of faith in God, well that unites you forever.
My beautiful friends. I love you.
Here is my beautiful mom (87) and Alexie. I love this photo. My best friends all have loved my mom and my mom has loved them for years.
Lourdes and Jose brought their delicious home made cranberries.
My youngest son Matthew, in the suit, unfortunately had to leave to attend his school's winter formal dance.
Everyone enjoyed dinner time.
Josh my godson graced us with his playing. I was so proud of him.
(Husband & Wife, Jaime & Janie)
Mother and daughter, Nina, we were all thankful for the blessings of one another and being together once again.
None of this would be a success without the help and support of my husband. The perfect host.
I know this was long, but I actually have 192 photos thanks to the help and beautiful photos from my assistant photographers. I couldn't have done it without you.
Thank you Nina & Elijah.