Hosting Holidays: A Right of Passage

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Christmastime this year was extra special, as it saw the triumphant return of Uncle Wen’s Christmas party.

When I was very young, I remember being at his house that he bought with his partner in West Hollywood looking up at the giant tree decked in only purple and turquoise.  I remember ascending the walkway lined with luminarias, just like in Santa Fe. Uncle Wen would be in the kitchen cooking and coming out with trays of food over and over again.

I was so young that all these memories come to me from a child’s height with all the people, seemingly all in black, towering above me.  I remember watching Funny Girl for the first time at one of these parties in the back room when I had gotten too tired for the adult cocktail festivities.

As you can tell, it has been quite some time since Uncle Wen has thrown a Christmas Party, not because he hasn’t wanted to, but because he lost the ability.

But it came back this year in a beautiful way.  There were 9 of us, a respectable, but not out-of-control number of guests. Since we are all a close group, it was 100% comfortable.  The big tree was back up in full glory (though with a less formal color scheme), and we sat back, stood around, and ate and drank our faces off.  Uncle Wen cooked so much food! Salmon croquettes, two kinds of holiday bruschetta, baked brie and fig tarts, and desserts, desserts, desserts!

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Hosting a holiday or a holiday party is a right of passage.  It is “adulting” at the absolute highest level.  It requires resources, organization, and the desire to invite those closest to you into your intimate environment.  Not everyone is able or willing to do this.  I  have never hosted a holiday or thrown a formal dinner party or cocktail soiree, but it seems like things may be changing.

Traditionally, my mom and Max’s mother each host separate Christmases in LA, which makes it hard on us (though it does give us the perfect excuse to take the gorgeous winter drive down PCH and through Topanga Canyon every Christmas, which is almost a tradition of its own).  This year, the splitting of time coupled with my mom’s waning luster for hosting a large group, caused me to considered hosting the Christmas holiday at our house next season.

Maybe it is my youth or maybe I’ll just always be a silly fool for Christmas, but, while there is so much to do around the holidays to get ready, I adore almost every minute of it.  I enjoy making food for the people I love to eat (and honestly, who are we kidding? You know Max will be helming the kitchen.  But I bake.  I bake.) I enjoy putting on a Christmas movie and wrapping presents.  I enjoy decorating our house for Christmas even thought I know we are just going to take it down a few weeks later.  There’s definitely also a part of me that knows how much my dad loved Christmas and I feel obligated to bring that Christmas spirit, so we can have a piece of him with us.

This is the first time when I’ve even considered it possible that Max and I might host our families for the holidays.  Our apartment, though small in size, is an adult apartment.  I’ve hosted our families and friends when they have come to stay.  I have learned to buy fancy hand soap for the bathrooms and to have sturdy, luxe towels.  We have a housekeeper (life saving!) We have made a home that I’m finally willing to share, so I guess the next step is simply to offer it up to our families and share it.

One tradition I know we would keep is serving latkes and caviar.  It is everyone’s favorite part of Christmas Eve.

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We set up a little caviar bar with all the usual accouterment.

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But when the latkes ran out, Max taught everyone how to do caviar “bumps”.  Moms doing bumps! 

Stay tuned for some mature changes in the Coane household in 2016, maybe I’ll even host Christmas next year!

A few pictures of the AMAZING giant gingerbread men that my Uncle Brian personalized for each couple this year.

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