The first Christmas I ever spent away from my family was the kind that could only happen to a recent college graduate. I had moved to California with two friends and the three of us were leading the kind of Golden State life that was far from our dreams—temp jobs, living in a beat-up house, constantly scrambling to pay the bills. I had grown up in a family that cherished your typical Christmas rituals: the big tree, an old train around that tree, stockings bursting at the seam, and of course large family meals.
That first Christmas in California became something quite different. None of us wanted to pony up the cash for a tree or even a string of lights. Our house looked the same on December 25 as it had in August or May. The big holiday dinner had us at a Chinese restaurant with a questionable reputation. The food was even worse than advertised. Never again, I told myself, as we pulled back into our driveway under a haze of MSG consumption. The next year I was back living in New England, back having Christmas with my family.
Which brings me to our new issue. Even as a recent college graduate I know I would have welcomed the holiday menus we’ve put together for this month. Beautiful, delicious home-cooked food. They speak to the season, and to New England. There is indeed no place like home.