“It is what it is.”
December 23, 2007, at the Karnes’

The roadway points up a snow-covered hill, and a foyer aglow of diffused pumpkin ushers a group of ten to celebrate another year of friendship, camaraderie, and good fortune. Despite the pressure and stress and issues of family members’ health, DP8 (along with Mike & Sheila Romalin) gathered to celebrate Deb Karnes’ 364-days-to-50th, along with our group’s fifth “annual” (I use the word advisedly, because it has been five years in a row, but a word that denotes no expectation of a Karnes’ duty to continue) Christmas event.
            A foot of snow cover greeted us, despite a forecast of wind and flooding for the upcoming day. All of us arrived within fifteen minutes of each other, initiating calls of Christmas cheer before the serious catching up of news – Christmas holiday plans, comings and goings of family, health concerns, stress, school parties, shopping, more stress, ... and so on.
           Hors d’oeuvres were masterfully achieved by the Adamses; Judy had fabricated an inviting wheel of cheese spread – cheddar, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, red cayenne pepper, chopped red pepper, decorated with parsley and the chopped red pepper – complemented by plates of mini crab-cakes, mushroom pockets, and onion-feta puffs.
           Chay concurrently bartended – pinot noir, cab, Beaujolais, white zin, Scotch, Kir Royale, and more. The call came to sit. As tradition dictates, Chay and Deb had poppers and favors ready. We popped, read the cornbally but funny jokes, tossed the confetti, donned the silly hats, except for Tim who managed to “tear” his in the extrication from the popper. Even Ken sported his paper hat (a threat of no coffee by S.O. may have influenced his decision). Three inch round cowbells favored one of the spouse’s plates, while a word ornament favor awaited the other. ....
           The salad course consisted of a spring and Mediterranean greens mix, with feta and mushrooms, craisins, blueberries, olives, radishes, carrots and tomatoes making for a lively salad, thanks to Deb T, and topped with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
          An intermezzo of lime sorbet, homemade and freshly made, of course, cleansed the palates. Although Deb claimed to have erred in the creamier and airier than usual preparation, the oohs and aahs attested to one of her specialties.
          The dinner wine this evening was 2003 Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano, a red dry wine that maintained well over the evening’s course.
          The entrée arrived in usual grand fashion – horseradish and garlic encrusted filet mignon, prepared for everyone’s inclination of doneness. Deb’s too-hot-to-touch creamy cheese-garlic twice baked, mashed potatoes matched Sheila’s half barrel of vegetables – broccoli, carrots, string beans and more in a buttery herb glaze sauce. Every bite was a delight.
          Needing an hour before dessert, we retreated to the living room (new furniture, too) and DK opened a round of birthday gifts. A squeal of delight arose upon espying a wall sign that read, It Is What It Is, an affirmation/acceptance/resignation of her traveling back and forth to Fredonia regularly these past many weekends for her mother, as well as keeping up with work and life and the rest.
          DP10 again opted for our usual gift opening, person 1 through person 10, with each opener allowed to “trade” from the previous opened gifts. Judy scooped Kriss’s bowl, Sheila blatantly snarked Chay’s basket, while Ken gentlemanly-like traded for Don’s wine, not that any gift is anyone’s anyway. (In an effort to better conceal who brought what present in the future, Chay suggested that next year we wrap our gifts in brown paper bag, to be left in the garage for Chay to deliver into the living room.)
          After that little “it’s-the-thought-that-counts” orgy, we retraced our steps back to the dining room for dessert, where Kriss had baked “from scratch” a dense, chocolaty cake – be-hollied, and sprinkled with  confectionary sugar. Deb K celebrated Mike’s 60th with a birthday cake, in the shape of 60, which Mike proclaimed culinary boobs, so, along with Kriss’ satisfying cake, we enjoyed the rich, delicious carrot boob cake, supplemented with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
            Homemade cookies, chocolate candy, tea, coffee, and more wine finished off the evening while we finished off the last hour of the day, literally. As the stories ventured more consistently off track, and Krypton added his contribution to the Christmas air, we deemed it time to end a memorable evening and allow the hosts to tidy up.
           A heartfelt thank you goes to Chay and Deb for hosting another Christmas celebration which means more year after year. We other eight appreciate your hospitality and generosity, your pleasure in going all out (I hope we noticed and complimented all the details), and the chance to laugh together. Happy Holidays and the Best to All in the Coming Year!