Christmas 2022: unexpectedly spectacular!

Victor Ashe, former Knoxville mayor and ambassador to Poland, presents Ukrainian violin student Marki Lukyniuk an appropriate shirt!

We celebrated “The Carmichael Christmas” a week early this year when 15 members of Alan’s family came to Knoxville from Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee. My family decided to get together on Easter instead of Christmas. So, Alan and I were thinking we’d be spending Christmas 2022 alone. We made reservations at a restaurant.

But, guess what. Thanks to the great people who live here and whom we are lucky enough to count as friends, we had one of the best holidays ever — and certainly some of the best food we’ve ever had!

Our friend Janet Testerman is the CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center, a longtime and much valued Moxley Carmichael client. She’s also a member of Knoxville City Council. But, most important in this context, she is a former caterer who owned her own company and handled Knoxville’s most prestigious events for many years. Here’s a tip: When she invites you for a meal, go! That’s where we spent a fantastic Christmas Eve.

Another of our town’s most excellent cooks and hostesses is former Knoxville First Lady Joan Ashe. She and her husband, Victor, Knoxville’s longest-serving mayor and former ambassador to Poland, hosted a small Christmas Day dinner. This invitation was especially exciting to us because the Ashes’ daughter, Martha, now 29 years old, was home visiting. She was a Moxley Carmichael intern many years ago and we loved catching up with her.

The Ashes also hosted Marki Lukyniuk, the talented Ukrainian violinist currently enrolled at the University of Tennessee. The charming young man has been featured in stories on WBIR and in the News Sentinel. He played a few tunes after dinner. And his presence led to a lot of discussion of the war in Ukraine and all its domestic and international ramifications.

So, all in all, a very special Christmas! Glad we canceled that reservation!

Fun friends sharing Christmas Eve. From left, hostess Janet Testerman, David and Debbie Jones, and City Council Member Lynne Fugate.

Host with the most! Joey Creswell did a great job tending bar, a very demanding job!

Haha. Good bev nap!

Three of my favorite guys! From left, Bill Lyons, Hancen Sale, and my sweet husband, Alan Carmichael.

Janet with radio personality (and former Knox County Commissioner) Bob Thomas.

Former State Rep. Eddie Mannis, left, and Blake Gibson.

Janet Testerman Crossley, also a former Knoxville First Lady, and Francis Norris.

Julia Bentley, left, with artists Tommie Rush and Richard Jolley.

Appetizers were on the kitchen table — near the bar! See that fluffy dish in the pie plate? That’s delicious homemade onion dip. Served with Fritos. (I love anything served with Fritos!)

Smoked salmon with all the fixings was a hit. I took this picture before everyone tore into it! And that baked brie you see to the left was gone in no time!

Charcuterie board.

Desserts of all kinds! Artichoke dish at back left.

Scott Brun, left, and Mark Broussard.

Scott and Lynne Fugate.

The Rodgers family! From left, Margaret, Colton and Clifford.

Sam Maynard and Judith Foltz.

Richard Jolley, left, and Bob McClellan.

Kim Thomas, left, with Michael and Cheri Torano.

Janet’s sister and brother-in-law, Jimmy and Muffet Testerman-Buckner. He’s eating one of the best items on the buffet: little roast beef sandwiches!

Kim Henry and David Butler.

Judith Foltz, left, and Gay Lyons.

Gary Bentley, left, with Michael Foltz.

Eric and Kat Savelli-Botts with daughter, Nova.

Dino Cartwright, left, with Mitchell Moseley.

Bill Lyons with Janet.

Annette Brun, front, with Julie McClellan.

Alec Bissell and our host.

After a good night’s sleep and opening our Christmas presents to each other, it was off to West Knoxville again — this time to the home of Joan and Victor Ashe. And what a fun crew we discovered there!

Here’s our former intern, Martha Ashe, helping her mother prepare the salad course.

Great to see Martha McClellan and Susan Seymour.

A lively discussion over drinks. From left, Alan Carmichael, Larry Leibowitz, Marki Lukyniuk, John Gill and Kay Leibowitz.

Matthew McClellan chiming in!

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the most delicious potatoes in the world were coming out of the oven — “melting potatoes,” they are called.

We were called to the table. Matthew McClellan and Kay Leibowitz were seated together.

Along with the salads, Joan served tomato-carrot soup in beautiful seasonal mugs. She said it’s an old David Duncan recipe, referring to Knoxville’s longtime popular caterer. He lives in Sarasota now.

Then, in honor of our special guest, Joan dished out Kutia, a traditional Ukranian dish that is basically a wheat berry honey pudding. (Unlike the tradition calls for, nobody threw a spoonful of it on the ceiling!)

The buffet was sumptuous.

My plate.

Red velvet cake for dessert!

Here’s a clever trick. Joan put peppermint ice cream in little metal bowls and placed them in the freezer. The ice cream came out rock solid and stayed that way through the dessert course. Brilliant.

Here’s Martha with her doggie, Moxie, as we retired to the living room for an after dinner concert.

Joan and Mayzie. They both are good, good dogs.

The Honorable Victor Ashe in a very good mood.

Marki Lukyniuk plays all styles of music on his violin. “Do you know the difference between a fiddle and a violin?” he asked us. “You can spill a beer on a fiddle!” he said.

Here are stories and videos about Marki that ran on WBIR, The Daily Beacon and the News Sentinel.

And, on Christmas, he played this traditional Ukrainian song called, “My Dear Mother.”



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4 Responses to Christmas 2022: unexpectedly spectacular!

  1. Gay Lyons, on December 28th, 2022 at 2:51 pm said:

    Since our family isn’t having Christmas until sometime in January, like you, we are grateful to the friends who included us in their gatherings. Great seeing you & Alan at Janet & Joey’s annual Christmas Eve party.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on December 28th, 2022 at 3:20 pm said:

    Modern families! Guess it’s good to be flexible!

  3. Katherine Brennan, on December 28th, 2022 at 4:06 pm said:

    Cynthia, I enjoyed reading about the two different Christmas gatherings, both seemed wonderful and enjoyable.
    Interesting, I know a few families that postponed gathering this year until later after Christmas. As you said modern times, do it when convenient for all. ( less
    hassle when traveling too).
    Kathy Brennan

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on December 28th, 2022 at 4:12 pm said:

    Thanks, Kathy. I’m sure we would have made the most of it. But this was so much more fun. Holidays are better when shared.

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