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Monday, January 3, 2011

Buzzed Fruit Mimosas and a house full of friends (yes, there will be a recipe…)

“for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..”
Proverbs 23:7

“Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends.
            From an online article on New Year’s traditions
Buzzed Fruit Mimosas and a house full of friends (yes, there will be a recipe…)
For the last 18 years, we have hosted a Kwanzaa party.  About.com defines Kwanzaa as a week-long celebration “developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 as a way to celebrate and promote the African American culture. Kwanzaa focuses on seven principles namely unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.” It’s an excuse for us to spend the last/first of the holiday season with family and friends we don’t see at Christmas, to give modest or homemade gifts (Kwanzaa’s scheduling deliberately benefits from post-Christmas sales), to laugh, share our traditional menu, and look forward to what’s next.
I am proud of and humbled by the interactions that come out of our annual Karamu (Karamu is the name for a Kwanzaa dinner).  It brings friends from different segments of our lives together, and new friendships are generally forged. We borrow from a variety of traditions.  Breakfast, a la Trinidad, is Codfish Buljol with Pepper sauce and Zaboca (avocado), served alongside New York staple Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Lox (not smoked salmon….there IS a difference).  We drink mimosas by the pitcher, with a case or two of sparkling cider for non-tipplers and the children.  This year’s mimosas got buzzed because I recycled left-over fruit that had macerated in apricot brandy since a day or two before I made the Christmas Eve White Sangria.  It was a happy accident.  By unanimous consent, it’s the recipe for next year, and so on.
We sit, and fellowship, enjoying one another’s company and talking about everything and nothing.  Some years, the women migrate to the dining room while the men dispatch themselves to the day’s football games.  This year, we crowded around the dining room table, laughing, eating, drinking, changing courses without ever changing locations, except to shift seats and take a KP duty. (Everybody helps out)  Lunch is straight out of the African-American New Year’s Day playbook; Black-Eyed Peas. Rice, Greens (this year I rediscovered Collards, which were a hit), and the most scrumptious roast turkey any guest ever brought to a party (can you imagine?) I told you I have good friends. 
I hadn’t realized that this cast of characters featured all Caribbean husbands and their American (yankee) wives, at least until the last guests arrived. Add in my Jamaican to the core BFF and it made for lively conversation.  Even when the last guests arrived, it was still All American wives with our International Men of Mystery (LOL). We talked life, love, growing up, family traditions, and then it hit me…we have always had the mechanism in place to ensure happiness, joy, and prosperity in the New Year, if you believe that what you do is what you are.  Proverbs 23:7(NKJV) advises in part, “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” On the first day of the year, we have consciously spent time with people we love, establishing and nurturing traditions that are benchmarks for our lives, setting the expectation that we will laugh, share food and fellowship not only throughout the year, but will look forward expectantly to the first of every year intending to do the same. 
Distance is irrelevant when it comes to our traditions.  At some point during the middle of the day (time is also irrelevant to me on NYD), my husband called a dear friend whose annual responsibility it used to be to bring and mix the mimosas every year who now lives out of state.  He put him on speaker so we all could talk, and it was a poignant reminder, we may not all be together, but this is still what we do. 
I’m not really given to New Year’s resolutions, but now I understand that I’ve been living the best one, and sharing it, for almost 20 years.  I start the year right, in the words of James Taylor, by showering the people I love with love, showing the way that I feel. 
I’m going to need more chairs, since a couple folks didn’t make it, including the righteous sistah who brings sweet potato cheesecake for dessert annually (TC, wherever you are, you were SORELY missed) AND since the newest additions to our merry band of revelers were advised (not by me, but by two of our guests), that once they get invited to the party, they are obligated to come each year.  They did not demure, already agreeing to bring food, so heaven only knows what delights await us next year.   I am living in expectation of an even better New Year’s Day party next year.  I know that no matter what challenges and opportunities await us in the next 12 months, we WILL be partying with purpose on 1/01/12, in my house, in my dining room, with dear friends.  We are planning for and expecting success.  Further evidence that God is good.
New Year’s Day Menu
Codfish Buljol with Zaboca
Bagels, Cream Cheese and Lox
Black-Eyed Peas with Smoked Turkey
Sautéed Collards with Carmelized Onions
Roast Turkey and Gravy
Sweet Potato Pie
Almond Pound Cake
Buzzed Mimosas
Cut up a variety of fruits, according to your taste, e.g., strawberries, citrus, melon, kiwi, raspberries.  Cover the fruit with Apricot brandy, and set aside for at least a week.  When you’re ready, pour the buzzed fruit into a glass pitcher, to just above one-third full.  Fill to two-thirds full with the best quality fresh orange juice you can find, and fill to the top of the pitcher with a dry Champagne or Prosecco.   We used the same fruit all day, and filled each glass to include a bite or two of fruit.  Enjoy!
Sorrell
(Trinidad-style Hibiscus Punch)

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