This Christmas season was arguably the worst one I have experienced.
The first Christmas without Sarah, my family was still partially in shock and also partially relieved – her twins had been hospitalized, intubated and in grave danger leading up to Christmas, so when they came out alive and, relatively, well, we were overjoyed. This time period of my life is pretty deeply repressed in my memories. It was just too hard- Sarah wasn’t dead two months. All the doctors and nurses thinking I was their mother and having to explain the situation to their shocked faces.
I remember getting a call from their father saying Grant’s lungs had locked and it looks like he is going to die and I drove like a maniac to get to the hospital. I was at a set of red lights and contemplated just finding the nearest cliff and driving off it. Truly. But when the light turned green, I made the left turn to continue to the hospital.
I think about that moment every time I find myself at that set of lights. It was such a painful and trying time, I’m getting emotional just reflecting on it.
So, as I was saying, this Christmas was, if you can believe it, even harder. It’s my third one without my big sister here. The fact that Sarah is never going to be there Christmas morning, to see the glee on her children’s faces, or to open the annual Christmas pyjamas our mother gets us every year really set in. She is just not going to walk through the door.
On top of this emotional revelation, my husbands step father, Melvin, was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. My husbands father died of cancer ten years ago, his mother was devastated, but eventually found joy and happiness again with Melvin. He is such a wonderful person and so sweet I just can’t believe it. Cancer stole the father in law I was supposed to have and is now taking the other.
My husband and I spent the holidays commuting between my emotionally traumatized family and his emotionally traumatized-en-route-to-be-even -more-traumatized family.
Today Melvin finally saw the oncologist and the diagnosis was even worse than anticipated. The cancer is pretty much everywhere. They are going to try intense radiation next week but the overall sentiment is it will be futile at this stage.
My husband came home with the news of the severity as I was making the spaghetti. I just wanted to collapse – I am heading back to Vancouver on Saturday so the next time I see Melvin may very well be the last time I ever see him.
I had spent the day prepping trivia questions and running around town buying ingredients for the spaghetti supper. I had friends coming over and wine uncorked but I felt exactly like I did at those stop lights three years ago.
I decided to “turn left” again. I let the commitment to this blog and the cause to trump the emotion that was overwhelming me and went ahead to try and ‘celebrate’ this particularly painful day… which was National Spaghetti Day & National Trivia Day
I didn’t follow a recipe for the sauce, I just free styled as I am apt to do. This sauce consisted of:
- 3 bulbs of garlic
- 1 red onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 purple carrot
- 1 orange carrot
- 3 peppers – red orange and yellow
- 1 package of Veggie Ground Brown
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- tsp of paprika
- fresh oregano
- jar of tomato sauce
- salt & pepper
To prep for the spaghetti I roasted some garlic by slicing off the tops and laying some sprigs of oregano artfully about to set the mood
I then pour extra virgin olive oil down into all the crevices and wrapped them in tinfoil. I placed them in the oven at 400 F for about 30 minutes.
I sautéed the red onion, purple carrots, orange carrots, celery, and mixed peppers till soft. Then I added the roasted garlic, a jar of tomato sauce, the veggie ground brown, cinnamon sticks, salt, pepper and the fresh oregano.
I brought a large pot to boil with well salted water. Once it was going I added the fresh pasta and let cook for about 8 minutes.
The fresh pasta looked like this when posed gingerly next to some carefully curated props :
When it was done, everyone helped themselves with the autonomy to determine their own noodle : sauce ratio, and sat down family style around the kitchen table
Paired with some Italian wines and Parmesan cheese, dinner was a success.
Everyone said they enjoyed it very much and I believe them for the most part.
Next was the celebration of National Trivia Day. Hosting my own trivia night turned out to be a great experience. When you go out to pubs for public trivia you are roped into the entire night and the chance of being surrounded by douchebags.
At home you can pick who you let in! And limit the questions so you don’t have to play for hours and hours! Win Win!
I decided to go with a strong “Italy – Spaghetti” category to re-celebrate National Spaghetti Day. I did my research on various websites then got bored with trying to stick to other category concepts so the rest was just “Micellaneous”
Prizes are key to keep the enthusiasm high. There was an Italian bottle of wine at stake but it accidentally was consumed before we even started…oops.
Everyone was given a piece of paper, pen and asked to number it 1 – 21
I was the quiz master and everyone played as individuals
My questions & answers were as follows:
JENNAH’S BIG BAD DIY TRIVIA QUIZ
1. Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning what? (String or twine)
2. How many different shaped pastas are there in the world? (600 approximately)
3. As you’d expect, Italy is the country that eats the greatest amount of pasta worldwide. What are number 2 and 3? ( Venezuela and Tunisia)
4. Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? (Fruit)
5. Does Italy have any active volcanos? (Yes, 3 – Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli)
6. As a result of it’s 1866 victory over Austria, Italy first gained control of an important city that had formerly belonged to Austria but today is very much a part of Italy. Which city? (Venice)
7. Which was not an italian invention : piano, cello, thermometre, espresso machine, or eyeglasses ? (Eyeglasses – Spanish invention)
8. Which of these things found in the Olympics moves the fastest? Ice hockey puck, bobsled, luge, or speed skier? (Skier – 140 mph)
9. What does ISO stand for? (International Standard Organization – determines cameras sensitivity to light)
10. What medieval unit of time equates a minute and a half now a days? (Moment)
11. What do M & M stand for in M&M’s? (Mars & Murrie)
12. What is the capital of Estonia? (Tallinn)
13. What are Jerry Seinfeld’s character’s parents names? (Helen & Morty)
14. What is a zeedonk? (The offspring of a zebra and a donkey)
15. True or false Anne Frank, Dr. Martin luther king and Barbara walters were all born in the same year? (True – 1929)
16. When did the canadian flag first make it’s appearance: 1867, 1921, 1965, 1980? (1965)
17. Feb. 25, 1964, young boxing phenomenon Cassius Clay first gained the heavyweight title when he knocked out which champion? (Sonny Liston) +Bonus what was Cassius later named? (Mohammud Ali)
18. What astrological sign would someone born July 1st be? (Cancer)
19. How do you spell ‘inexcusable’ ?
20. When was the first iPhone released? (2007)
21. Portugal is bordered by which other country? (Spain)
Tim & Hillary were the winner – tied at 11 so I guess they were kind of hard questions.
If I did it again I would make sure there was more questions with ‘option’ answers and probably movie and music questions.
And so ended another celebrated day. It really did beat lying on the couch weeping which is probably what I would have done that night if I hadn’t previously arranged Spaghetti & Trivia night so there is that !
Up next : National Bird Day, National Screenwriters Day & National Whipped Cream Day