Every year my studio gets shut down and packed away for a couple of weeks while we prepare for the family’s annual Christmas Eve shindig.

Tree on studio table

My in-laws, their spouses, and kids all descend to make merry. The cousins run wild, the far-flung adults reconnect, and all is the opposite of calm, but plenty bright. I have been happy to host for two decades and change, starting when my son was an infant in arms, and my girls were six and four – the Winnie-the-Pooh years.

Here’s the studio under siege as we tried for a family photo.

There’s plenty of hazardous items in a studio, from Flake White paint (lead) to Mineral spirits (poison), and delicate supplies, like small brushes and stretched canvas, that could be trashed in a heartbeat. Away it all goes into the off-limits drying room.It takes a couple of days to clear away the festive wreckage, then I wheel my carts back in, and set up the easels. Just than soothes my spirit, because a week without painting and I get twitchy. Also peevish, irritable, moody, cranky, cross and fretful.

Today, the third day after the feast, is soup making day. It’s a tradition that pays off for months to come. I make vats of soup, bag it in ziplocks and pop them into the chest freezer out in the garage. There is the US Senate Bean soup http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_item/bean_soup.htm, made with the Honey-Baked Ham bone, the Smoked Turkey, Rice and Porcini Mushroom soup, http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/food/recipes/20101128-smoked-turkey-with-wild-mushroom-and-rice-soup.ece and Minestrone¬† http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robin-miller/minestrone-soup-with-pasta-beans-and-vegetables-recipe/index.html

It’s an all day thing, but the house smells great and we are set for hearty winter soups. As my reward for being so exemplary a provider of yummy goodness, I go back to the studio tomorrow. That breeze you feel ruffling your hair? My sigh of relief.