by Rick Winterson
Boxing Day is an English tradition. Its origin is not certain, but most of the historic references say that it is traditionally (but not always) held on December 26, the day after Christmas. On December 26 in England, servants and employees who worked on Christmas Day were given the 26th off to visit their own families and friends. They were also given gifts of food, money, or clothing just before they left for the day, which were usually put in boxes so as to be a surprise. Hence the name “Boxing Day” (as far as anyone knows).
Not to be outdone in celebrating Christmas traditionally, South Boston has observed Boxing Day in years past – 2018 was no exception. Michael Dowling, the Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel Productions (110 K Street), threw a sumptuous Boxing Day Brunch at mid-day in his M Street condo. On December 26th evening, the Morrises – Rob and Jill – served cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and good company at their Boxing Day Open House.
Michael conceived, cooked, and served his Boxing Day Brunch on his own. Traditional breakfast fare like scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage alternated with eclectic offerings that ranged from three-decker blueberry cake to pickled Brussels sprouts – all prepared by Michael himself. Needless to say, plateful after plateful was consumed.
Guests came to Michael’s Boxing Day Brunch (literally) from all over – Denver, Colorado, and Long Beach, California, were both represented. Talk and laughter were joyful and spontaneous. A prize for the best decoration in Michael’s condo should be awarded to Mary Dowling, Michael’s mother. She has crafted a total Nativity scene that not only contains every element in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel stories, but is also made up of 86 separate figures, from a choir of angels to a flock of sheep.
Boxing Day 2018 was closed joyfully by an evening Open House – a cocktail party with tastefully presented refreshments courtesy of Rob and Jill Morris. Their home on East Broadway is a South Boston high-ceilinged, two-level, classic residence, originally constructed of local brick. Their Open House began at 4 and extended past mid-evening, as dozens came and went. It was the perfect way to carry on the tradition of Boxing Day, with an American flavor that emphasized having a successful social event for Rob and Jill’s family members and their friends.
Most memorable was the conversation, which spoke of art, music, and widely varied interests. The personalities of the many characters who were in attendance at the Open House mixed willingly and well, as Rob and Jill’s guests went from one informal group to another during the evening.