For 26 years now, 5 families in Weston have had a tradition of a ‘walk around dinner’. The families are neighbours, living within a few paces of one another. In early December, each family prepares one course: Appetizers, Soup, Salad, Main and Dessert. Then, starting in the early evening, the adults all walk to the home serving the Appetizers, and spend an hour or so over that course, talking and catching up. The couple serving the soup walks to their house to finish the prep, and a few minutes later everyone else moves to the soup course. The conversations continue. And so on through the evening, until finally, dessert. There’s always some Christmas music in the background, and Christmas decorations are mostly up.
Because each couple only prepares one course, it is usually something special. This year’s menu featured shrimp, seafood, brie and cranberry tarts, squash and pear soup, radicchio salad, spicy and mild chicken wings, a fruit pavlova, butter and mince tarts and a cheese board.
In the beginning, the children were all fed and looked after by each other in the basement of one of the houses over a movie or games while their parents walked from course to course. As the night wore on, various ages of kids fell asleep and had to be moved home at the end of the evening. As the years went by, the kids grew up, moved out and had families of their own.
Though the tradition continues, the conversations change. Early on, it was home renovations, or children’s schoolwork, or decorating the house for Christmas. As the couples age, it becomes catching up on children and grandchildren, with the requisite photos shown around. The more recent conversations tend to revolve around bodily ailments, who’s back is acting up, who just went for an MRI, who had cataract replacements.
Alcohol is served with each course, though the quantities have diminished greatly over the years. But being a walk around event, no one needs to be a designated driver. And the timing changes, too. What used to start at 7 and go until 2 am, now starts at 6 and the yawning starts at 1030. All are in bed by 11.
Arranging the date can be laborious. One of the participants keeps track of who serves what course over time, so there isn’t a repeat, and sends out the reminder in November. Invariably, someone has a conflict, so emails and phone calls go back and forth until a date is set.
One of the couples moved away from Weston, but comes back with food in tow, just for this event each year. It is a lovely tradition.