On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
Let’s see. Days’ handful still to go and so much left here to be done. The gathering of food and drink, the trimming up of yard and home, final invites, last sweep and mop of floor. Making ready for a feast always demands all that I have to give and more, late nights spent making lists, too many turns around dark kitchen puttering and putting house to rest only to rise again with to-do on my mind. Endless preparation — do they ever guess the time it takes, those I welcome at the door, embrace with kiss and laugh and can-I-take-your-coat? Behind the scenes is where the spread takes life: the quiet rolling of the silverware in napkins and the careful press of linen wrinkles smoothed by iron’s steam. Sometimes I wish that I could be the guest: the ones arriving eager, ignorant of sweat and hours poured into the party, those who taste and savor, do not spy undusted shelves or frown at pie that browned too long. I envy innocence of answering and not inviting. But over years hosting became a life, the way to keep heart widened like door creaked open in the winter cold, wet snow stamped in on boots piled high to dry while party swells and spills into the basement, front porch, following wherever wine and laughter flow. I love a crowd, the jostle welcoming unlikely crew – friends and in-laws, uninvited stragglers perched on couches balancing full plates on napkinned knees, squeals of children weaving between legs of grown-ups clustered in the kitchen, heart where warmth and good smells always grow. Right here’s the rub that hosting brings each year when holidays ring round again: the joy of drawing close, of living for a night the way we ought to love all year – with beauty, generosity, all energy on evening, no worry of tomorrow. Just the small sweet joy of many underneath one roof, tired satisfaction sharing all the good my life can give.