Monday, December 27, 2010

A Darlington Boxing Day Blizzard

Reggie is of the old-fashioned school that refers to the day after Christmas as Boxing Day.  With a straight face.  The origins of that term are somewhat shrouded in the mists of time, but the conventional wisdom is that the "box" in Boxing Day refers to the custom in England, in days gone by, of the gentry giving boxes of Christmas leftovers to those less fortunate than they.  At Darlington House, the "box" in Boxing Day more accurately refers to the custom Reggie follows on the day after Christmas of cutting up the myriad cardboard cartons that appear during the holiday and tying them up with twine for recycling.

We had planned a small cocktail party on Boxing Day this year, but Mother Nature made a fool of that idea by delivering a blizzard of heavy snow and perilous driving conditions, and so we wisely canceled the party only an hour before it was scheduled to begin.  By that time we were mostly done with our preparations and had dressed for the party.  So, instead of serving our guests the cheese biscuits and baked ham that I had made that afternoon we consumed a portion of it for our supper.  And rather than drink homemade eggnog, which was on the menu as the House Libation for the party, we downed a couple of martinis each—one needn't be a scintillating conversationalist with one's spouse under such circumstances.  Besides, martinis don't pack the same calorie explosion as eggnog does and so are more helpful in aiding one's post-Christmas slenderization efforts . . .

Our vintage Christmas crèche . . . with a few additions

One of the pleasant side effects of throwing a party is that it spurs one to tidy up the disarray of the house ahead of time, and we had already completed this task by the time our putative guests started phoning in their regrets.  Reggie is rather happy that Darlington House is in better order now than it would have been had the party been canceled earlier, before we had finished our organizing and putting away of things before our guests' arrivals.  Even though it was a disappointment to have to cancel the party, Reggie is pleased to have a tidy, well-ordered Darlington House and a fully stocked kitchen and bar.  Not so bad, really.

A bough-filled Chinese urn in our drawing room

It snowed heavily all night, and I woke this morning to a wintry world outside my bedroom window that reminded me of the scene in Dr. Zhivago where they arrive at their ice-encased country house, "Varyinko," after fleeing Moscow:

Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

We've had almost two feet of snow here in the Hudson River Valley in less than twenty-four hours, and blustery winds are blowing the snow about today in spectacular drifts.  I haven't seen such a storm here in many years, if ever.

The only reason one even considers venturing out of the house in such conditions is to allow dear Pompey a quick constitutional.  As I've written before, Pompey is a cream puff and hates going outside when it is wet or cold.

Thank goodness Pompey's got with the program after all these years, and one no longer need stand in the freezing cold, encouraging a miserable and reluctant pug to do his "business," with the snow swirling about.  Pompey knew exactly what to do this morning, and we came back inside the house pronto!

Pompey happily snugged up in his kitchen bed

Thank Heaven for little miracles . . .

All photos, except where noted, by Boy Fenwick


  1. I love the blue ceiling on the porch! I've made not of it before!

  2. Please consider me Pompey's newest and dearest fan. I, too, have a Pug - whose name is Señor Pablo Gomez. We also had about two feet of snow here on the North Shore and I was worried about him in the drifts. Unfortunately, he is still a bit reluctant, but it was his first snow storm so I suppose we'll just have to be patient. Sounds like it was a lovely party!

  3. I'm enjoying our "snow day" here. Better to cancel than to have friends risk the driving conditions. Some friends normally do a large (~300) black tie house party at Christmas. Several years ago it was disrupted by a snowstorm and ended up being rescheduled from Saturday to Monday. A lot of last mintue logistical challenges, but it worked.

  4. The snow looks lovely, and I am happy your guests decided to stay tucked in rather than brave the storm.
    I was chuckling with agreement over your pleasure at the party-ready house which ended up being just yours to enjoy. This has happened to us before and it is kind of delightful, especially just after Christmas when the mess is at its height without a little motivation.
    Stay safe and warm during this bad weather. xo Dani

  5. We didn't get hit with much of the storm as anticipated, but I think most people in the city were fully prepared for snowpacalypse #2.
    Calories be damned at the holidays, drink that eggnog!

  6. So sorry you had to cancel your party, Reggie, and many thanks for linking to my cheese wafer post. I'm glad you all had an enjoyable evening at home in your party-ready house. I know it was lovely.

  7. Love your nativity collection. The additions are very amusing. Who's to say where a gnome might or might not turn up for a visit?

    I also love the blue paint on your porch, sort of the 'haint blue' of the old South used to keep the evil spirits away, I believe. Or was it the wasps? No pun intended.

  8. You have no idea how much I adore Pompey. Oh, that precious face!

  9. I love the additions to your creche. Ours camps out annually on a table where the year-round residents join in, a couple of very small bronzes of a frog and a mountain lion. They are animals. It could happen.
    Best, and keep warm -
    - Mike

  10. Your blizzard hit here later that evening---thanks a lot---and I tidied also--it's been blowing for 12 hours---finally found a home for those 25 year's worth of WOI that I am unable to throw out. Seven parties in four days, loved them all, but relieved to be home and quiet all day, dreaming of a tropical island

  11. Snow can be such a bother when it interferes with plans. Hopefully you and Boy will much on the ham and cheese biscuits as you finish out your holiday. Enjoy the martinis.

  12. Gervais: Thank you, it took a lot of failed attempts before we found the "perfect" New England porch ceiling blue.

    North of 25A: Pompey was "reluctant" for many years, I am sorry to report, but you may have better luck with the Senor, who I have seen and admired on your blog. Aren't pugs divine?

    DocP: When are you going to start your own blog? Please put us out of our misery!

    DaniP: Thank you! How did your turkey turn out?

    Architect: Thank you--I have had far too much eggnog this season . . . as well as cookies, stollen, cheese, ham, fruitcake, chocolate, and roast beef with yorkshire pudding . . . the list is so long as to be humiliating! And when I write "far too much" I'm not referring to being sated by it at all, but rather for the five pounds I've packed on as a result!

    T&CMom: Thank you, your cheese wafer recipe is a hit at Darlington House! Now, I have to keep myself from not eating the six dozen we made for the guests that didn't show up to the party...

    MamaMagnolia: Reggie is not complaining--a steady diet of cheese biscuits, ham, and martinis is Heaven on Earth!

  13. Morning!

    Sounds like you, Boy and darling wee Pompey are taking this setback by Nature in full stride and with a stiff upper lip! We do call the day "Boxing Day" -- a term that we have to explain to many folk hereabouts in Dallas.

    Next on our agenda is Hogmany -- a dance-filled night with many glasses of warming cheer AND attempting to find a dark-haired man to "First Foot" our little house -- and bring luck through the threshold! Again -- this tradition requires MANY explanations too! LOL!

    Stay warm and cozy!

  14. love your nativity set -- I remember these individual items selling at the local 5 & dime when I was small. My sister & I collected all of the animals in multiples (flocks of sheep, cows and many mules as all of the animals came in different poses, unlike the people!) each time we got near the store during the holidays - it was a wonderful way to spend a small allowance and needless to say, we never got around to buying any of the 'people' (Jesus, shepherds or the kings!) - I can see, we need to add some dogs now, tho! Happy New Year!

  15. My lamb shanks on Boxing Day (also known as the Feast of Saint Stefan) were absolute heaven. The whippets were thrilled to get some on their kibble, but NOT thrilled by the 8" of snow. Can't say as I blame all the naked little dawgies lowering their 'ahem's into the drifts for having shocked expressions...

  16. Darlington House and snow go very well together! The tidying up that happens before a party (whether they come to fruition or not) is such a delightful bonus to having them...I think I need to see if a few friends would like to come over...24C needs a bit of post-Christmas tidying at the moment.
    So proud of Pompey for being lightning fast in the snow...Miss. Ginger needs quite a bit of coaxing...and carrying, well, she is very short and her belly freezes up quickly.

    Enjoy your snow days....
    xo J~

  17. Reggie Darling,

    We too felt the beautiful mockery of Mother Nature on Boxing Day. Pompey has just the right idea: stay inside, curl up and veg, guiltlessly.

    Happy New Year to you and Boy!

    Eddie + Jaithan

  18. Is there anything better than a dog who prefers to stay warm and dry? Alex agrees heartily with Pompey, get things done and get back inside.

    Our current lack of an oven hasn't bothered me until now. I'm filing that cheese wafer recipe away for future use.

  19. I no longer have the constitution to drink martinis in the winter -- at least in the country. In a crowded restaurant in the city, sure, but in the dead silence of the country -- particularly when it's cold outside -- I can't do it anymore. (Fortunately, I am not yet bereft of alternatives.)

    Three parties down, one more to go -- I'm starting to think that misanthropy, as a management tool, is vastly underrated.

    (Big hit present of the year: Signed copies of Deborah Devonshire's new book, which were given to a dozen assorted "sister acts" of my acquaintance. Many thanks to Her Grace and Heywood Hill, the best bookstore in the world.)

    Happy New Year!

  20. Oh dear, what a shame you had to cancel your festivities! Whenever I get stuck in a snow storm I get a little crazy and start cleaning and polishing EVERYTHING...even me!

    And I'm glad we both had Dr. Z on the brain. :)

    Ps...You well deserve the lovely praise from Little Augury, your blog's a joy!

  21. Reggie,
    Last year we planned a holiday party for 28 guests. It was December 19th. The night of the first of three blizzards in the DC area. Nine of our closest neighbors put on their boots and trudged through the snow to spend the evening with us.

    The next day should have been Boxing Day because we boxed up catered food, put it on a sled and delivered it to everyone we saw...mostly in driveways with shovels in hand!

    At least your house is looking gorgeous for the New Year. Hope it's a good one for you, Boy and Pompey too!!!

  22. Dear Reggie, Darlington looks glorious in the snow. Pompey is gorgeous cream puff or not xx


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