If you weren't going away this year, you'd have a really good holiday party.
You have a really good holiday party every year and every year the first people to arrive help you set up. I have arrived at your house to find boxes of unopened crackers, cheese still in its paper and bags of tiny carrots and nuts in a pile on the counter. To your credit, you usually have a pot of mulled wine going on the stove and the aroma of cinnamon and clove is great company while the assembled mob of the early-to-arrive hustle around the kitchen and set up your party.
One year, you weren't even home. You had gone to get a pedicure, but left the house unlocked.
Someone always takes the job of lining up dozens of tiny tea lights on the built-in ledges of your Craftsman dining room. Someone always slices the salami and puts it on a plate (though now we've all gotten mature enough to call it charcuterie.) Someone takes all the delectable little pastries out of the bakery boxes and lines them carefully on a big white platter. We set out glasses and pour olives from their deli containers into your nice white bowls.
While we get things organized, you put the finishing touches on your outfit. Periodically, you waft in from the bathroom, offering direction; a nudge; an order. You give kisses that leave a stain bright and shiny as holiday ribbon. You always look fabulous. Opulent. In the beginning, there was lots of leg, lots of bosom, but lately, you've taken a more elegant approach. You look like you should have a group of people helping you in the kitchen. You wear this role casually, but comfortably, the way you might toss a fur coat over your shoulders -- more for beauty than for warmth.
And then the party begins. There is no beer (your rule,) but plenty of booze and the food is always good. There is a fire in the fireplace and the with the tea lights finally lit and the overhead lights turned down, your home takes on the kind of glow that is nice to see from the street. Yours is a nice party to walk into. It's close and a little loud. Always warmer than you think it will be and always that lovely spicy wine smell twisting through the scent of Christmas tree branches, perfume and bourbon.
Happy holidays, you, dearest you. Happy travels.