Yesterday evening was the Last Noel. Questions about the Last Noel? See here. I don't know how many people we had, because I was too tired to keep count, but it was wall-to-wall teenagers in the dining room, living room, and family room. They were playing chess, poker, the piano, and singing harmonies to Christmas carols. Secundus fell out of an upstairs window with apparently no ill effect. For the first time ever, there was an "after party" with some of Secundus' friends having a "bro party" tacked on to the Last Noel. They helped remove the Christmas tree and restored the living room furniture to its normal positions, then watched the Shawshank Redemption and went on a 3-mile hike along the railroad traps after midnight in a windstorm. I'm very glad I was asleep by that time.
Julie M. showed up with an interesting hostess gift: a 15 volume set of the collected writings of Washington Irving. Daniel, who just wrote a paper on him for American Lit, was very interested. Tertia was overjoyed that her dance teacher showed up - otherwise it was almost entirely a group of Cedar Tree and 1st OPC.
You should never underestimate the community-building power of the humble Sloppy Joe sandwich. I spend a lot more time baking cookies and making the pasta salad, but I'm serious. People get nostalgic about Sloppy Joes. They are effusive in their praise. And all I did was brown a boatload of ground beef and onions and then heat it up with celery, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, and maybe a little barbecue if the mood strikes. There is no recipe, just general guidelines. I guess some people use a mix to make Sloppy Joes, but I have no idea why. There were a couple of teenage boys who came early, hung out for a bit, ran to go participate in strenuous athletic competitions, and then returned for three more sandwiches. I had bought a selection of buns, including the new pretzel slider buns, which were very popular. I had gluten-free crackers for the gluten-free folks, who are trending these days. I contemplated making potato salad instead of pasta salad, but no, I'm stubbornly pro-gluten. And a quick poll of my pasta-loving family came out in favor of the pasta salad too. But I did consciously leave out the MSG in my dip recipe this year.
I have a guaranteed day after the Last Noel to recover. Nothing much is expected of me. The family and any remaining guests eat leftovers and I ignore my Latin grading and normal Randomday chores. And by the power invested in me as hostess of the Last Noel, I declare the Christmas season officially over.