For many of us, cooking for a holiday feast or making preparations for a party are well worn and beloved holiday routines. All of that hosting can also be exhausting! Listen to author Diana Abu-Jaber read her essay on her family’s heritage of hosting guests during the holidays.
Floridians are after all, the hosts of the nation. Every year, with the coming of winter, the once sleepy steamy streets of Orlando, St. Augustine, Miami transform and vibrate with guests. Snowbirds in flight fill our hotels and spill into our homes.
Abu-Jaber’s latest work is in the just-released anthology, Blue Christmas: Holiday Stories for the Rest of Us. It’s one of the first books published by Books & Books in Miami. Abu-Jaber’s story is called “American Sweater.” It’s about two kids from an Arab immigrant family after 9/11. They have to fly to see their father, so their Jordanian grandmother knits “patriotic sweaters,” so people won’t think they’re terrorists.
Abu-Jaber’s latest novel is Birds of Paradise. It tells the interwoven stories of a teenager who runs away to Miami Beach, her father (a real estate attorney) and her mother (a pastry chef.)
Food themes run throughout Abu-Jaber’s writing. You may want to add the Poetic Baklava recipe from her memoir, The Language of Baklava, to your holiday table. If your holiday plans have veered toward chaos, perhaps Subsistence Tabbouleh (“for when everything is falling apart and there’s no time to cook”) might be appropriate. It also makes a mean party appetizer.
Do you enjoy preparing a feast, hosting guests and rolling out the red carpet on holidays or do you prefer to be the guest yourself, bearing a bottle of wine? What are some of your traditions?
The music in this piece was “Christmas in Florida” by St. Augustine band 3 Headed Stepchild.