It’s a week before Christmas and the great mystery, and all the little mysteries, appear before me. I’ll talk about the little mysteries. For example, grocery shopping is a mystery! Simple you think, but you are wrong. In western Massachusetts, all your desires for diversity of your palette are available. No problem there. But, and I say but; you must travel. There is Costco and BJ’s for the big stuff shopping and for new trends. Next are our go-to grocery stores. We have many including our Big Y and, in the Sixteen Acres area of our city, is Fresh Acres; not near my neighborhood. There is Stop and Shop, and many newer stores. For some unusual gluten free items or for specials for our vegan guests we travel to Amherst and Hadley for shopping at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or Atkins Farms. And then for our ethnic groceries, we have wonderful Italian markets in Springfield, Russian markets in West Springfield, Asian markets in both locations, and the beat goes on. We have it all somewhere, but we must travel. This is the nature of suburban or small city life. I am not complaining, but I do say it takes planning.

When I woke this morning the first mystery for me was my itinerary for the day; where was I going first to shop. I am hosting a family brunch for Sunday for 25 to 30 of my nearest and dearest. How to balance favorite dishes with new dishes never tasted in my home before by family. How to balance the simple recipes with the more complex recipes. How to balance the vegetarian vs the carbotarian vs the gluten free guest vs the young man who wants only chicken nuggets and bacon. It is mysterious and the answer is out there, I think.

Another mystery is how I will accomodate 12 dishes that despite my serious and careful planning will all need at least some heating at the same time for serving. I have a double oven, a separate small cusinart seven kinds of heating oven and a microwave. It is a mystery. How will I serve it all at the same time.

Think of the wonderful mystery when all my guests (25-30) all arrive at the same time with coats and hats and maybe boots dependent on the weather. So while I am balancing the food heating problem, I pray that some one of my guests will take over the settling of outerwear and not put them all over the chairs in all the rooms.

Television spouts about family conversation around politics at holiday gatherings and how to keep it friendly. The perfect solution to that issue is a national mystery. Or how about the under thirty crowd that uses cell phone videos to talk to each other. And think about all our gun-ho football aficiados who turn on the television for the game in the midst of dining. I may have solved that mystery with a brunch starting time at 11:00 am.

Like my murder mystery writing when I wonder where my next plot line will come from, I know that the solutions to all the mysteries listed above will come from the characters at my brunch aka family and friends. Thanks for all my characters both ficional and real; they save me daily.

Happy Celebrations to you all. K. B. Pellegrino

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