I didn't get any pictures of our actual Christmas dinner, but here is the hall entrance to David's house and the living room just before our guests arrived. Everything was at the ready with the Mojitos and hors d'ouvres waiting. We had planned everything so that we would have very little to do once people were there and it worked out well. Sydney and Richard arrived first, and then Greg, carrying the home-made ice cream we had requested. Lynn came by for a drink before dinner, but had already eaten.
The night before, David and I had been at Sydney and Richard's for Christmas Eve. They had other guests, some of whom we had not met before. My impression of these neighbors was that they were quite likeable in the particular way that Sydney's friends always are. Afterwards, I tried to pinpoint in my own mind what gave her friends that similarity that was so recognizable. I determined that it had to do with the fact that their conversation is mostly about whatever place they lived before coming to Eastport.
Sydney and Richard are from California and talk about their old life very frequently. These people at the party were from Chicago, and their talk centered around their life there. At times it seemed as if everyone were trying to name as many places they had been as possible. As a Maine native, I find this slightly objectionable and off-putting. I feel as if I am being placed in a different, less worldly category. There have been times that I have offered travel references of my own to these conversations, but I realized I was doing it just to show off, trying to impress them. There is always a hint of condescension in this type of chat and I imagine I am being viewed as a curiosity, albeit an interesting one, in the way that archeologists might find a backwards tribe charmingly and surprisingly amusing.
In the environment we somehow are able to create at David's, despite the fact that we are the same people, the balance shifts and place names are not important. We discuss current events, politics, religion, local politics. There are ideas being exchanged. I don't have the same feeling that every eye is on itself, checking on the impression it is making. There is emphasis on ideas, and fun. Conversation is easy and unselfconscious. We are together because we are enjoying ourselves. It does not feel artificial to me, and so I consider it a very happy success.
Thom called while we were celebrating and it seemed nice to have him be part of the party for a few minutes. When everyone had gone, David and I shared the last of the delicious ice cream and then I came home, leaving all the mess for him to clean up. Our menu of veal birds, chateaux potatoes, timbales of peas and mint, and fruited wine jelly with ice cream was up to our usual standards. Campagne, coffee with cointreau..........all of it was festive and memorable. We had worked most of the day together in a measured and companionable way, listening to Christmas music at high volume. It seemed wrong to leave with all the remnants of our good time overflowing the kitchen counters, the sink full of glasses and dishes, the stove littered with leftovers. Still, I felt that it would be best to simply turn our backs on it all and deal with the aftermath in the daylight. I hope David went straight to bed and left the cleanup for today, when he could put away his good china, his linen tablecloth and napkins, his silver, with a sense of satisfaction and a job well done.