After all the discussions, which heated up between courses -- chestnut soup, glazed goose, ratatouille, endive-apple salad -- Jethro offered in mime to lob a radish at Molly, who returned it in kind. Our father, on count of seven, beat a tattoo for order (he never holds to standard ten). Three goblets quavered in unison, but didn't fall, which blessing kept his taking up the role of peacekeeper from seeming doctrinaire. It began with Uncle Martin's declaration that the day was a national holiday, while Aunt Helen was positive it wasn't, since unmothering, not motherhood, was sexy politics now. The tension held till Aunt Ruthie, who always hates dinner table dialectic, tickled us by warbling "Be-are-are" as she waltzed in and placed the footed silver platter in front of Mamma. Eat your heart out, Carvel, et al. Our festive log was created by your betters. Barked with crushed macadamias, modeled of speckled vanilla, at its center sat Whistler's Mother, frozen fast in a chocolate ice cream intaglio. Because we'd left it lying on a bed of dry ice during all the long badinage, that nutty log was hard as a rock, so we had to decide whether to wait for it to soften naturally, and maybe lose its cryogenic tribute to the heroine we hailed in this ceremonious fashion, or to take the smartaleck grandchildren's advice, tendered with supercilious groans at our ambivalence, faced with the culinary Art Age (or anthropomorphic fear?): Heat the knife and cut through the thing neat-o. All voted for the hot knife, and everyone, excepting Mamma, who got very quiet, had a slice of Stabat Mater, to celebrate before she melted.