Solstice Celebrations

By Jim Dickens

We were home for the holidays and hosted 8 events and attended several others between December 5 and January 6. In the midst of this, we have some home renovations underway. Our kitchen above was intact until January 7 and now looks like this. I think celebrations around the solstice are very fun as people relax and have interesting traditions. I’ll share 4 favorites from this year.

Steak Night

Seven years ago I offered, for what ever reason, to host my oldest son then a college sophomore and his local friends to “Steak Night”. The tradition has continued. Lori and I cook and serve dinner like a restaurant. My son and his friends eat, drink, tell stories, have humorous toasts and generally catch up. They are now far-flung from New York to Seattle with careers and a couple of marriages. It has been fun to let the inmates run the asylum for an evening and inspiring to see them move from college to independence.

Flaming Punch

We host a Christmas Eve party for 30 to 50 of Lori’s extended family. With a majority of Italian ancestry, it is a warm, noisy event with lots of laughter. Near the end of the evening, 81 year old Uncle Bob makes a steaming hot whiskey punch with cloves in it. Then with great ceremony the kids from 4 to 26 use long matches to light the punch on fire. Uncle Bob then adds some apple juice dousing the flames. This all happens in the middle of the kitchen with mothers wringing their hands as they watch. Given the cloves and whiskey, children only try and sneak a taste of the punch once. We have yet to have the fire get out of control.

Sweat Pants Day

Our immediate family has turned Christmas day into a day without obligation, Sweat Pants Day. After hosting Steak Night, Christmas Eve, different sets of friends and Lori’s school staff, Sweat Pants Day is a welcome change. While our home is open and various people do stop by, don’t expect us hang up your coat and offer you something to eat or drink. It is all self serve. You can hang out in sweat pants, have a beer at 10 in the morning, eat cookies for lunch, shower at 5 PM and watch movies all day. Or you can do the opposite. It is a day with out decorum or tradition and that is the tradition. Accordingly there are no pictures. Many people feel Sweat Pants Day is the best.

Goose Day

My 87 year old mom says her best present is to have family together, the more the better. And, she likes to serve the traditional english goose for dinner and have a gift exchange. It takes her weeks to get ready. Geese are hard to find in grocery stores and take courage and patience to cook.

She also hands out a pull-crack party favors that everyone pulls at once and then we wear the crowns, read the riddles and play with the toys inside while dinner is served by my 89 year old dad. We treasure each Goose Day as the next one is not promised.

After months of fishing golfing tailgating and solstice celebrations, the Tour hits its fitness segment January through March. I have entered three endurance classic style cross country ski races in Sun Valley, ID, Hayward, WI and Biwabik, MN. Look for the next update to include tales of debacle from the cold and snowy parts of the world.

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