You know, I don't like starting this off negatively but to really make it understood how nice Christmas was this year, I sort of have to. We haven't had a family get together among my siblings and step-father (my mother passed away 20 years ago next year) for several years for reasons of the Jerry Springer nature. Let your imagination fill in the blanks or go over to my personal blog www.xanga.com/Marie9949 for a few more details. I'm not actually interested in hanging all my dirty laundry out in the wind but, like I said, if you don't know that we didn't celebrate as a family for a while because of the negative stuff, then you can't appreciate along with me how blessed I feel this year. This photo, taken Christmas Day, is the first one taken of me, my brothers and sister, step-dad, and the siblings' kids with all of us in the same room, in about five years, if I remember right. Actually, it may be longer than that. The last photo I remember being taken of all of us was at Carl's wedding before Isaac and Kaylee were born.
So having explained that, ta-daaaa:
The players are front row: Carl's kids Isaac and Kaylee. Middle Row: Suzanne's daughter Sydney, Me, Suzanne, Suzanne's daughter Jordan, Back Row: My youngest brother Carl, step-dad Tom, and the older of my younger brothers, Kenneth.
Having set that stage, I'm going to backtrack and catch you up chronologically. My Christmas started off with our traditional girls' night party between my Aunt Miranda, Cousin Ann, and few additions: Ann's daughter Jenn, Susan's daughter-in-law Colleen, Susan's grand-daughter Holli, and Jenn's friend Julie. No pic. Bad blogger. I slapped my own hands.
But what I did get a photo of was the loot. Holy cow, Aunt Miranda went nuts. A few months ago she'd asked me about the sushi making kit at Barnes & Noble and if that interested me. I told her yes, it was the kidn of thing I'd love to get as a gift but would never probably justify buying for myself just because it would be such a guilty pleasure. Did she get me the B&N kit? Oh noooooooooooo. She went all Terminator and went after the good stuff in a really big dramatic way. She went to an Asian Market and look at this haul:
I damn near cried. She is way too good to me but I so appreciate the love that's wrapped up in this box. Wow, you know? Sometimes a gift is just a gift but when someone knows you really well it can be a tangible emotional connection between people.
We're going to be having some fun in January! I'll be putting together a sushi party with Aunt Miranda and her husband, me and Gene, and James and Lynn. What a great present. Hell, I loved just the leaf plates. I would have been happy with those but look at all these goodies to learn a new food craft with. I feel all broccoli inside just thinking about it.
Let me explain broccoli. Our deaf niece Sydney (long blond hair in the pic above) can't say her "s"s so for her whole life every time she says the word "sparkly", which is one of her favorite things for anything to be, it sounds like she's saying "broccoli". So of course, being the family that we are, we don't let anyone get away with anything that funny without beating into the ground. In my family, when we feel good, we feel "all broccoli inside". Also, by the way, her Easy Bake oven was always her "cook box". I'm thinking as foodies we need to incorporate that one someday too, don't you?
Also, along the same lines of "ohmygawd, these people love me", Jenn came up with this idea in the "save the trees" venue and her mother Ann sewed these grocery/tote bags for Aunt Miranda and I. Isn't this cool?
I can't wait to take this with me to Mama Jean's Natural Market. And the regular grocery too. I get tired of those silly little plastic bags and then feel so guilty about throwing them away but what can you do with them? We recycle and use them but it's like they mulitply like rabbits while you're not looking. So again, I feel very blessed by the generosity of my friends who happen to also be family.
We spent Christmas eve with Lynn and James which we've done before. None of us have kids so it's a good match. You know what I mean. They're really lovely to hang out with. Well, let's back up and say I got to spend most of the time with James and Lynn. Gene's sister, Linda, called Christmas Eve morning to ask if he'd come down to the farm to get her because she was afraid she'd had another small stroke or was in the beginning of another heart attack. Scary. He did, of course, and after spending (what seemed like) years in the ER getting a CT scan, cardiac enzymes, and an EKG, she was released. They could see evidence of the past incidents but nothing new. We asked several times for Linda to come stay with us for a few days but she decided to go back home but at least she'd already had plans to stay with a friend for Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day so that made us feel a little less worried. So far so good. No more symptoms, for which we're very thankful.
For dinner we had homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (click for my recipe and a prettier pic posted last September) and Parmesan/Chive rolls (recipe after the jump). I went with soup since Lynn had already been to one big family dinner that day. It was still filling but not engorging. No pants had to be unzipped following the filming of this food pic:
By the way, as a shout out thanks for everyone who were so generous with gifts this year, see the gray sweater I'm wearing in the group family photo? That was a gift from Lynn this year. It's gorgeous and I love it. The necklace is from my sister and her girls. A friend of theirs who hand makes jewelry made that and a matching bracelet for me called "Winter Ice". Just beautiful. James, wicked twisted sense of humor that he has, just like us, btw, send off to the national mint and gave us a poster made of actual uncut dollar bills. Now that's just sick in a way that you have to smile, isn't it? That's bloody funny. Can't wait to have it framed.
Christmas Day was all about preparing for my brothers and sister to come over in the late afternoon, and yes of course, Gene's sister was invited too but she declined. Since this was the first year we were getting together in a while I wanted to make everything be very special. The tree was jam packed with presents for the four kids and I wanted everyone to have some favorite food of theirs like mom used to make for us when she was alive, although I also wanted to not completely wear myself out since I had to be at work the next morning at 6am.
Here's what I ended up with:
Turkey (gift from my hospital) and Roast Pork (gift from my sister Suzanne's hotel) sandwiches on home-made white and parmesan/chive rolls:
Pepperoni bread for my niece Jordan--her favorite appetizer (recipe after the jump):
Good old WOBAT stand-by spinach dip for Carl and Suzanne:
And then there was also a variety of chips, cheese & crackers, summer sausage, and finger foods like that, just a big appetizer party gone all Christmas.
For desserts we had Gene's favorite pies: Old Fashioned Buttermilk (recipe after the jump) and Pecan.
I have to rat Gene out though. We cut one of the buttermilk pies on Christmas Eve so when I was looking for the half pie the next day, Gene's response was to look at his toes like a four year old and mutter "Well, you didn't fix me any lunch." He ate half a flippin' pie for lunch, which if you knew him wouldn't surprise you at all. What might surprise you is the fact that he's 6' tall and weighs 180 lbs, not 400 lbs like he should considering he ate a half a flippin' pie in one sitting. But it's Christmas, right? What the hell. I laughed and went on. Thankfully it's taken him three days to eat the last half of the pecan pies.
Also for dessert I made peanut butter fudge for Dad and Kenneth, always their favorites. My family has never been a huge chocolate craving bunch, we're more of a white chocolate or peanut butter fudge group and mom always made it for us. So that was one of our memory treats, along with these cookies that the little kids had made the night before for Santa. Gee, Santa must have gotten full. They made tons of these and he didn't eat them all. Wink Wink. So we all enjoyed them.
I feel very full of both food and blessings this year. Merry Christmas to all, and my we have a bright shiny happy New Year!
(for recipes, click on the continuation. Starting Monday I'll get back to normal with Doctor's Kitchen Monday, which will also be known as OHMYGAWD, We're Back on Our Diets and not a second too soon)