My grandmother on my mother's side could throw a holiday shindig like nobody's business using things that nobody in their right mind uses anymore such as chafing dishes and boiled icing, making dishes nobody eats anymore like salmon mousse. A side table was dedicated to European confectionery. My grandfather manned the schnapps corner.
The house would be lit solely by schnapps, chafing dishes, and the Christmas tree with its antiquated strings of so-hot-they-could-give-you-a-burn bulbs.
My job was to take the ladies' coats upstairs where I would pile them on my grandparents' bed and remember whose was whose. I remember the scents of fake-fur, real-fur, hats, gloves, pocketbooks, the sneeze-inducing powdered-tush smell of Chanel No. 5. I imagined that if there was a heaven it was to be nestled in sweet-smelling furs, soundtracked by the faraway laughter of joyful people and the clinking of silverware and outside it would have just started snowing.
My grandparents had party friends with wonderful names: there were the Wurmbs, the Elligators, and, my favorite, Bunny Furlow.
My grandfather played the flute, my grandmother the piano. The trajectory went like this: carols, carols, carols, O Holy Night with their friend who was a soprano belting it out while I waited it out, because my favorite part was not the religious chestnuts but the bacchanal to come when my grandmother shuttered the hymnal and got out her sheet music for Bing Crosby, Big Band, and the Brat Pack.
Christmas, in my opinion, should swing. It's the holiday of goodwill, excess, hope, and antici-pation and if you're not dancing you're not doing it right.