Categories: Christmas

A visit with the spirit of Christmas past

Dinner with family is always important, but it takes on special meaning during this time of year.

Barbara, Robyn and Aunt Arpie
Like many folks our age,
however, we’re sad to find that our families on both sides are
dwindling and scattered. So any gathering that reflects even a
glimmer of holidays past is precious.

To our delight, Aunt
Arpie Vartanesian was determined to provide that opportunity this
holiday season
and, in the spirit that she has always shown, she
overcame one obstacle after another to make it special.

Arpie is technically
Robyn’s aunt but we share her without distinction. She’s fun to talk
with any time about anything, but our Dikranagertsi roots always give
us plenty of food memories to share. For years, we shared them while
eating the food we loved.

She retired from cooking
several years ago, however, when she moved from her condo into a
senior living complex that features an attractive dining room with an
impressively varied menu.

Nowadays, she isn’t
getting out as much and we live just far enough away to make a dinner
get-together a challenge. Arpie’s solution was to invite us for
Thanksgiving dinner at her complex’s dining room. Also invited were
her niece Barbara Dorian and husband Ed along with some close

Due to a mix-up, however,
no family-size table was available so we were broken up into small
groups. It didn’t bring to mind the old family warmth we’d expected.

Rather than wait to try
again next year, however, Aunt Arpie made her displeasure known to
the “head honcho,” who invited us all back for a pre-Christmas
dinner at one big table in a private dining room. Best of all, he
offered to let our aunt set the menu.

He undoubtedly expected
her to request a traditional holiday favorite – perhaps turkey or
baked ham – but she stuck with our own holiday tradition by
ordering shish kebab. Of course, she insisted on lamb.

“And I told him it has
to have coriander,” she assured us. “It just won’t taste right
without kinz.”

The honcho passed the
request along to the dining manager, an enthusiastic young man named
Roderick. He had to work around a few of his own obstacles, such as
not being able to build a fire pit in the kitchen, but he cleverly
evoked the spirit of Aunt Arpie’s request by seasoning and carving
juicy kebab-size chunks of lamb loin that were served over tabouleh.

Bravo Roderick!

The Armenian theme
carried through from the cheese boreg appetizers – that our aunt
generously shared with the dining room staff – to the paklava

It turned out to be a very special evening, thanks not only to Aunt Arpie’s perseverance but to her extraordinary spirit and love.

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