Baby’s First Christmas


This isn’t what I meant…


No, 2016 was my first time hosting holiday dinner, so I feel very grown up!


And I decided to pretend to be Italian because I live in South Philly (even though my part is more southeast Asian than Italian now). I went all out and served the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. What is this? Catholics believe that you should strengthen your faith through self-deprivation by not having meat on Fridays or the eves of religious holidays, and Italians made a tradition of following the letter of this rule by preparing the most over-the-top decadent seafood dinner humanly possible. I made baccala, salt dried cod with tomato sauce, and lobster bisque. There was a pack of stuffed clams in my freezer after I got them on sale at Aldi 2 months ago, so I finally used them up, and my dad made seafood pasta with a white wine broth, one of his signature dishes, with 4 more kinds of seafood. Some people said that’s cheating but we say close enough. I did follow the rule that Italians really care about and made about twice as much food as we needed.

Then there’s a little Crooked House inside the Crooked House now – my roommate made one out of gingerbread! I said she should have printed tiny little political statements for the rainbow candy in the windows but we’ll call it close enough. She wanted to build it to be broken open like a piñata but she forgot to bake a roof so she just


And because this post is a bit of a catchall, I’ll show you a renovation-related gift I gave my parents this year. Their house was built really nicely in 1951. Alth0ugh it’s kind of nice to have a newish house that was built for TV’s and not for a kitchen maid, theirs was sadly built with flush doors and ordinary looking hardware. Then around 1990 (I think) someone downgraded the doors to the flimsiest hollow paneled doors I’ve ever seen. But at least they don’t have a faux woodgrain embossed into them. My dad has been very slowly replacing them with solid (veneered, finger-jointed pine doors. And by slowly I mean about one door every 5 years on average. Remember, solid pine doors are $60 more than the cardboard ones, so if you have a large house with any upgrades at all and you have these doors… I won’t say what I’m thinking. I’m nice like that. (This is their hallway by the way.)


Back again to door hardware because it’s the most important thing… they still had the flimsy circa 1990 Kwikset knobs even though the house had nice doors for the first time. They can’t have awesome vintage hardware with skeleton keys like I have, so I sought out the best modern hardware I could find. I happen to know that my mom loved the circa 1930’s Georgian brass knobs in my back bedroom.


And so when I was deciding between plain enough to be appropriate for a postwar house and conspicuously fancy, I went with the Waverly handleset from Emtek.


I got them 3 so they can have good hardware in the downstairs hall. That covers what other people see at least. The tragedy of having to buy these new might preclude ever getting them throughout the house but that’s life.


7 thoughts on “Baby’s First Christmas

  1. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    All grown up. Your parents must be so proud. I am going to be in Philadelphia the weekend of January 14. We are going to visit Isaiah Zagar’s mosaics on South Street and the Mutter museum if you would like to meet up.


  2. Mary Elizabeth

    Excellent choice of a gift for your parents! I know about the door replacing schedule–we did the same thing in our condo, about one door per year until they were all nice. Shortly after we moved into our 1959 ranch, we decided that since everything was on one floor we needed to bite the bullet and replace all the doors at once. They look “MAHvelous!” I wish we had done the same thing with the wood floors–doing them one room at a time has helped us keep on budget, but I wish our schedule and life circumstances had made it possible to do them all before moving in.


  3. Mary Elizabeth

    Also, I wanted to say something about the seven fishes dinner–my family were not Italian, but I was raised Catholic, so we always had either seafood or mac and cheese on Christmas Eve. Years later, when I was married with small kids and no longer Catholic, we had pizza on that night! One Christmas Eve, a local public radio personality who lived a few blocks away from us was talking on his call-in show about Christmas traditions. He raved about his mother’s seven fishes dinner and how he was having to miss it because he was at work until 10 PM. So my husband called the station and said, “Listen, I think your mom is at your house cooking, because we can smell it from here!” And we found out the next day that she actually had gone to his house and brought the whole dinner to him so he could eat it when he got home.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s