Kentucky Christmas

Rolling green acres stitched with white fence rows; mellow casks of aging golden liquor; great slatted barns of curing tobacco… Home to many worthwhile attractions from horse racing to Bluegrass, Kentucky is always a worthy destination.

But let’s face it, whatever you come for, you leave with bourbon–and that almost makes up for the lack of snow.

My brother moved to the Lexington area a number of years ago, and my parents followed in 2010. About once in three years, therefore, I make the trek to Kentucky for Christmas. I’m not sure I will ever get used to the warmth (two days before my arrival, they were sitting around the backyard fire pit in 60-degree weather), and I confess (as a northerner of the not-my-business-variety) the bubbly close-talking friendliness was almost overwhelming at first. However, making the adjustment is very well worth it. Let me give you an example:

Today, Mark and I went with Joe and his wife Kari to a local shop for spiced rum (the main ingredient for my Christmas pudding). The proprietor shadowed us in the aisles, offering friendly suggestions that would likely frighten off, say, the average New Englander. It was, however, very useful advice (recommendation: a spiced concoction half the price and twice as good as the one I had chosen). But there was more. The gentleman asked “would we like to try a bourbon cream?” On the house, a sample. We went into the back room, a tasting area, and the four–make that five of us–shared a toast.”Given the season, o’ course,” said our fine host, “I may as well join you.”

To Christmas! To friendship! To the kindness of strangers–and to the strangeness of kindness in these often unfriendly times!

We bought a bottle…Of course we did. And the bourbon caramel, bourbon bon-bon, bourbon honey, bourbon BBQ–it is amazing what you can make with the stuff.

So take it from Kentucky: slow down, sip and enjoy, and may you experience the warmth of the season even as I have, here among friends.

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