Is it just me, or does it seem as if we’ve passed through some sort of time-jumping holiday black hole? Just the other day it was fall and Thanksgiving and everybody was in an autumn-like mellow sort of mood and today suddenly it’s winter and Christmas and everybody is in panic oh-my-gosh-there’s-so-much-to-do mode. And by “everybody” I mean me, I guess. Deep breaths, deep breaths, in, out, in …. At least I got to start the holiday season with a calm and peaceful weekend as we four former college roommates gathered at my friend Debbie’s house in Nashville, Tenn. Debbie is one of those talented women who can create something so stylish and creative from bargain items she finds at the discount store. She’s amazing. I love the red oversized coffee cup she bought for practically pennies a few years ago — now you see them everywhere and not for pennies, either. Her mantle decor was simple and elegant and made me itch to clean the clutter off mine and do the same. That’s one of the best things about good long-time friends: They don’t mind if you steal their ideas. And of course we had food: cookies and casseroles and cheesecake and Chex mix (slightly burned and crunchy, just the way I like it). Our cooking has matured — a bit — since when we four were at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and party food meant Ruffles potato chips with French onion dip. Good times, good times. But I think we four have held up pretty well since then.