Despite the death of Russ Brown (see below) Arlene Becker went ahead and held the annual Christmas party that she and Russ have hosted for years. It was a brave thing to do but, as she said, the tradition had to go on. The food was great, as always, and the crowd was eclectic. All that was missing was Russ' distinctive charm as host. He is definitely missed.
My daughter, Rachel, home from Missoula for the holiday, and I still had to go back to the office after the party to finish the Outpost. Christmas Day was our normal production day, and typically I don't put the paper to bed until the wee hours (or later) Wednesday morning. Pushing the schedule up by a day and a half is a real challenge for a weekly, especially with our regular production person gone on vacation, a vacancy in classified and last-minute Christmas shopping to do. So my wife did the classified pages, Rachel built ads, and I put the paper together, and we got done around midnight, just as Christmas Day broke. I even broke a bit of news, which you can read tomorrow.
So we slept late, opened presents, then cooked tamales for Christmas dinner -- a Southwestern tradition that we have been importing to Montana for years. They were wonderful, accompanied by Mexican rice, beans and a huracan gravy that was the best I ever made, I think.
Then the best part: a few cold tamales for breakfast today. Most tamales served cold are an abomination -- mealy, greasy and unpleasant. But really good homemade tamales take on an almost supernatural quality straight from the refrigerator -- firm, rich and painfully addictive. Then a slice of cherry pie, and back to work.