CHRISTMAS EVE FEASTS. After Mary Jane and I married, we usually went up to Syracuse for Christmas. Mary Jane’s mother was a formidable cook. She devoted extra effort to Christmas Eve, preparing seven or eight courses—all would be sea food. The first course would be calamari; there were usually six pounds of calamari prepared in two or three ways. This presented me a challenge. There were only three of us who ate calamari, and as much as I liked calamari, there were still six or seven courses to go after the three of us, on behalf of the table, had done the required justice to the squid.
At the table, there were always several happy references about the Christmas that one of the aunts woke up the night before the feast, ventured into the kitchen, turned on the light, and discovered that the live eels had escaped.