A Season Of Plenty: Osso Buco, Wine, and Gratitude

In lieu of resolutions, prognostications, top 10 lists, or the year in review; a long sigh of satisfaction and a languid resistance to lurch forward...

With the holidays behind us and the New Year starting in earnest now, it's only a matter of days before life's treadmill resumes its just-faster-than-manageable pace.  There is much to look forward to, but the comfort of the recently relished holidays lingers heavily.  I don't want it to end, though evidence of the calendar's merciless march is everywhere.  Our families have returned home.  The decorations have all been put away.  The army of empty bottles have been marched to the curb in overflowing recycling bins.  Silence fills the spaces where laughter had taken up residence these past couple of weeks.

Denial is futile, though fresh memories hold a more powerful allure than the crispness of reality.  Phrases spoken over the holidays replay in my head, reigniting the emotions that only find purchase in a prolonged break.  A deep breath and a second to pause is all it takes to travel back to the noisy, wonderful flashes.

Here are a few of those notions worth carrying forward into the blistering race we already know as 2012.

"It's been said that the key to a happy life lies in stringing together many small things to look forward to."  There is an implicit resolution in this, and it's an important reminder to not only live in the moment, but to make those moments so much a part of our routine that we plan them into our daily lives.  We can easily incorporate this into our appreciation of wine by putting bottles on the calendar.  For example, on February 8th, which is a meaningless date in our household, we'll be opening a bottle of 2000 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion.  There are 5 weeks of anticipation and meal planning to enjoy between now and then. February 8th promises to be anything but meaningless this year.

"If not now, when?"  Who among us hasn't been sitting on a special bottle(s) for too long?  Yet I'll bet there's no specific event those bottles are being saved for.  What are we waiting for if not the company of those we love?  And how about applying it beyond wine to other "special occasion" luxuries?  Lingerie Tuesdays, perhaps.

"The lion of contentment has placed a warm heavy paw on my chest." Finally, and perhaps most emotionally reassuring, is this line.  Though osso buco never made it on the menu, this excerpt from Billy Collins' poem named after the dish conjures the imagery of gratitude and satisfaction that blanketed the holidays in our home.

But tonight, the lion of contentment
has placed a warm heavy paw on my chest,
and I can only close my eyes and listen
to the drums of woe throbbing in the distance
and the sound of my wife's laughter
on the telephone in the next room

(Read the whole thing here.  Really.)

Even with these notions on heavy rotation, we'll all eventually surrender to the new year and its madness.  But with any luck, it'll be a new year full of perspective and plenty.

Happy New Year everyone!