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Maybe the Victorians were on to something

Awake Sunday morning at 4 a.m., I picked up the phone and checked the temperature: minus 8 F. “Nope,” I thought and burrowed under the blankets.
 
Permit me to be a little silly for a moment and talk about what in much more formal times was termed “the social season.” Beginning just after Christmas and carrying on through early-mid summer, “the season” was set for parties, debuts, balls and political haymaking.
 
Of course we don’t do much ball-going in our own time. The closest we get to such a thing is watching the Hollywood award shows that populate the calendar this time of year.
 
We usually find some good takeaways from the practices of our ancestors, even if they were someone else’s wealthy, well-connected ancestors rather than our own.
 
We’ve just come off one of the coldest periods on record for much of the country, and as I look outside, watching the mercury climb above freezing for the first time since Christmas Eve, the isolation such cold can bring points up the need to make the effort to reach out to others when the world outside our window looks a little bleak.
 
Maybe the Victorians were on to something, making sure to create reasons to shake off the winter blahs.
 
Our instinct at this time of year is to hunker down with a pile of movies and pizza delivery. Your friends probably feel the same: a bit lonesome, a bit isolated, prone to barring the door against the chill and keeping all away.
 
It sounds like a good time to invite people over to share the good wine you got for Christmas, play cards and congregate in the kitchen with funny stories.
 
The more festive main ingredients we see in stores from Thanksgiving through the New Year are usually still present for much of the rest of the cold weather. If you hoped for a rib roast for Christmas but grandma made a ham instead, there’s no reason you can’t make up for it with friends on a Saturday evening in January or February.
 
At the very least invite them over to share the movies and pizza. Warm throws are such a popular gift in our climate that you probably have enough of them to give everyone their own blanket.
 
The point is that you can do something super casual or plan a spiffy dinner around a crown roast of pork. What you do doesn’t matter so much as seeking out others with cabin fever to warm the winter chill. If your house has the fireplace, you’re the one to do the inviting.
 
Let’s adapt the old social season to the 21st century and make it a time when we grab the chance to make warm memories as a barrier to looking outside and thinking, “nope.”
 
A nice cross between pizza and something more fancy might be a variety of crostini. Get one of the long baguettes from the store and slice it into thin pieces. From there, add anything that sounds good.
 
I’m partial to smoked salmon, goat cheese and dill with some capers. You can use prosciutto, sun-dried tomato and feta. You might like to try something made up of smoked oysters and a smear of smashed olives and garlic.
 
Use pickled radishes and sour cream. Douse them with a good olive oil and experiment with herbs and finely diced chilies. Crostini are blank canvasses. Invite everyone into the kitchen to create something fun and don’t spare the frozen vodka.
 
You’ll look out the window at the ice in the trees and toast it all away. “Shove off, winter!”
 

Published: January 12, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180109953