Inside the Ordinary House
It was an ordinary house, on an average street to anyone passing by. But every year on Christmas Eve, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends from near and far away were drawn together. Everyone came dressed in their Sunday best, the girls in their smooth velvety dresses, the boys in their crisply pressed pants, button up shirts, and stifling neck ties that were soon lost once inside. Although the approach for the guests was always swiped clear, it didn’t stop my cousins and me from dotting the smooth clean snow with our tiny winter boots.
I remember bounding through the door and hearing the booming sound of voices and laughter. You could hear the old men reminiscing about the good old days, the women bustling about in the kitchen, scolding passersby trying to steal a bite, and the children giggling and running about the house. The house was alive with anticipation.
My cousins and I gathered at the top of the stairs and chattered on about our teachers, friends, and Christmas vacation plans. We compared our Christmas wish lists. Bike vs. guitar was a big debate one year. Occasionally an adult would stop and interrogate us. It was always the same questions. How is school? What grade are you in? Blah, blah, blah.
There was an intoxicating mix of aromas that filled the house like a thick fog. City chicken, my Grandmothers recipe handed down from her mother, was my favorite. Stuffed cabbage gently stewed in giant metal roasters on countertops. Meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, perogies, mostaccolli, and salads were all prepared for the feast. Long covered tables lined up in rows filled the basement like a mess hall. We filled up on colorful condiment trays that lay atop the tables. When the meal was ready, we lined up, plates in hand, and proceeded down the endless stretch of table to pile our plates high. As always, I feasted.
The house had a modest living room...