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We’re not eating mince pie this year. We’re not having pumpkin pie, or mashed potatoes and candied yams, we’re not even having turkey. This year it’s going to be meatballs in my own never-quite-the-same barbecue sauce, with side dishes of pierogies and maybe a corn casserole. It’s Christmas morning, and I haven’t quite decided on the menu.

There will be only four of us at the table. When I think of this gathering, I tend to say “Hubby and me and the kids” but of course they aren’t kids anymore. We are four adults who don’t really care all that much for turkey. We’ll miss the leftovers, I imagine, just as we’ll miss the hubbub of Christmases past. But my mom is gone now, and my sister has a new husband to share the holiday with her. The extended family is changing all the time. We don’t need a holiday dinner to get together.

So this year, it’s going to be meatballs.

I mixed the meatballs up and cooked them earlier this week. They’ve been sitting in the freezer in plastic bags, waiting for the sauce to come together. That’s something I started before dawn this morning, sweating onions in butter and adding a dozen other ingredients from ketchup to cumin. The flavors will blend and soften over several hours; the meatballs went into the pot about 7:00 a.m. so that their sausage and beef and sage flavors will meld with the sauce and the whole thing will fill the house with a marvelous aroma.

But pie? Not with meatballs. I tried to think of something yummy and a little different, and yesterday it came to me: Harvey Wallbanger Cake! I haven’t had it for years–and probably, no one else has, either. It should be perfect.

The Harvey Wallbanger was a popular drink way back in the dark ages: the1960’s, I think. It consisted of vodka, orange juice, and a floating layer of Galliano, a distinctive, bright yellow liqueur. The combination was reminiscent of Orange Julius for some reason, and when some bright soul thought of turning it into a cake, who could resist?

So, there I was, on Christmas Eve, striding down the liquor aisle at my local supermarket, searching the top shelves for the tall, conical bottle of Galliano. I didn’t see any. Hmmm. I seem to remember that they had to sit on the top shelves because they didn’t fit elsewhere. I made the return trip, with no results. I found the store manager, looking slightly harried, hiding behind the customer service counter.

“Where can I find Galliano, please?”

“Uh, Galliano?”

“Yes, you know, that bright yellow liqueur in the tall bottle?”

“Just a moment, please.” Tony, dial 1-4, please. Tony, 1-4.Tony, do we carry Galliano? . . . Well, she says it’s a liqueur in a tall bottle.”

I was prepared for the answer by the time he turned back to me. He politely suggested a liquor store just a couple of miles away, but by now I had given up.The Harvey Wallbanger cake would have to wait for some non-Christmas-Eve shopping.

I still have time to do rum cake (I know there’s a bottle of Bacardi somewhere in the back of the pantry shelves, next to the just-as-dusty brandy) or cottage pudding, with lemon sauce. Who knows, by the time the kids get here, I may have decided on store-bought vanilla ice cream with a sugar wafer stuck in the top.

Yeah, right.

Check back in a day or two, and you may find out what we ended up with for the family feast.

Maybe not.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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