One part of Christmas that's simple: The Menu.
What menu, are you kidding? There's only one thing on the menu: lasagna.
What else could there be? Are you going to break with 500 years of tradition? Are you going to risk the leverage that the Christmas lasagna gives you over la famiglia for the rest of the year? Lasagna is the reason Italian families are matriarchies.
Now, of course, you're going to have a little something more than lasagna. But try not to serve anything that requires cooking. Hey, you've got presents to open!
So here's the Staccato Family Christmas Day Menu:
Christmas Day Menu
Since YOU make the lasagna, have your husband (or kids or guests or Trader Joe's) do the salad and slice up the cheese. Who cares? Get the bread, and maybe some of the cookies, from a good Italian bakery.
And here's the beauty of this menu: You can serve the meat from the sauce you make for the lasagna, with some leftover noodles and ricotta, for Christmas Eve dinner. It's that good. I, myself, would be happy with a little linguine with clams on Christmas Eve, but I did the meat thing one year and now that's all anybody wants. It's my own fault. But I think it's worth it when you consider the fact that all the work I do for the lasagna serves two purposes.
Everything can be made up ahead of time. Lasagna freezes beautifully. In fact, it may taste even better after it's been frozen. But it takes up a lot of space in the freezer. My grandmother had a six-foot-high freezer in the basement, full of lasagna. (That's a lot of leverage.) I don't have a freezer in the basement, which means that my Christmas seasons are seriously a life-or-death struggle between the space in my refrigerator and how much food I want to make before Christmas Eve. I need to fix that. Because a freezer in the basement is a symbol of an Italian woman's power.
Power, I'm realizing, that I don't have.