Since it is the Sunday after New Year’s and technically still “the holidays,” we’re going to sneak in this post about our Christmas — better late than never!Â Not to worry, we’ll also post an actual food-related entry soon.
This year, we traveled to Dan’s mom’s house in Central Pennsylvania for Christmas (and just barely managed to get out of PA on the day of the big East Coast snowstorm).Â Then I made a quick trip to Houston to see my family the week after Christmas (poor Dan had to work and couldn’t make the trip).Â Here are some highlights from both visits (which is not to imply that this is a short post – it’s not at all.Â You have been warned):
The night we arrived in PA, we watched the Steelers beat the Cardinals.Â I rooted for the Steelers with my feet all cozy in my new black and gold slippers hand-knit by Dan’s mom (thanks Elaine!)
The filets were delicious — cooked medium rare with a cognac, peppercorn and shallot sauce.Â Appropriately decadent for Christmas Eve.
We had snow on Christmas morning.Â Yup, it was just about as cold as it looks (according to the weather station inside the house anyway).Â Dan’s mom lives on a small mountain, and this is one of the trees in her front yard — particularly picturesque at Christmas.
We received many wonderful gifts (thanks to all!), but one of Dan’s favorites was his “Grill Sergeant” t-shirt from our niece and nephew.
A neighbor delivered fresh, homemade (still warm!) cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.Â They were amazing.
We had a lovely cheese plate in the afternoon.
Dan made his Easy Veal Saltimbocca for Christmas dinner.Â Veal probably isn’t the most traditional protein to serve at Christmas, but maybe it should be.Â How better to celebrate the Baby Jesus than a plate full of baby cow?
We completed a Scrabble board using our informal method.Â We’ve played this way before — all you do is fill up the tile tray, make a word, then take turns re-filling the tray and making words until all the tiles are used up.Â We don’t keep score and whoever is around can take a turn whenever they want.Â It’s a much more relaxed way to play.
Dan put together his little Lego Christmas tree (thanks Aunt Nancy!)
We had a nice and relaxing time in PA — reading, watching TV, iPad-ing, eating good food and visiting.Â We also enjoyed the snow (from inside the house).
I had a nice visit with my family as well.Â One of our traditions is to open presents on Christmas Eve, so dinner on that night (and the 28th, which is when we opened gifts this year) is usually very simple — sandwiches, chips and dips, etc.
Another tradition is that my sister makes what my family calls “party mix.,” using our grandmother’s recipe.Â Dan’s family calls it “chex mix.”Â But we all call it delicious.
My sister likes to give novelty gifts, such as these bobble-heads from the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”Â (How many times did you watch it this year?Â We watched it at least once all the way through, then re-watched the good parts throughout the day while it aired on loop.)
Yes, my brother is looking up the “skirt” of the bobble-head.
My other brother received some alumni gear to take back to the frozen tundra where he lives.
One of the best gifts of the night was from my parents.Â They made donations in all our names to the Heifer International charity organization, to be used to help families in need.Â Our gift provided a flock of ducklings to a family who will use their eggs for food and income.Â The ducks also help the crops by removing weeds and bugs and providing natural fertilizer.
Another awesome gift was the autographed copy of Bobby Flay’s book “Throwdown!” for Dan, complete with photo of my parents with Bobby.Â Clearly, Dan is their favorite son-in-law.
We received some sweet stuff as gifts this year too.Â Including a really good homemade coffee cake (thanks Shelly!)
One of my brother’s co-workers made us a yummy rum cake, emphasis on the rum.Â You want to avoid operating heavy machinery after a few pieces of this cake.
Does everyone else have the traditional Whitman’s sampler of chocolates every Christmas like we do?Â It’s best when they include the descriptions on the top of the box.Â Otherwise you have to gently smush the bottom of the chocolate to peek at the filling so you can put the chocolate back in the box if it’s filled with that gross cherry/coconut/nougat stuff.
My parents have never let the fact that all us “kids” are adults stop them from playing Santa, and this year was no exception.Â Due to travel schedules, they weren’t able to do their usual Christmas morning set-up with stockings and Santa gifts.Â Instead, they surprised us with a make-shift Christmas morning Santa experience put together in my dad’s study after we had opened all the other gifts.Â Who doesn’t love a little surprise and magic at Christmas?!?Â Thanks Mom and Dad!
The length of this post alone is a tribute to how lucky we are to have such wonderful families and friends to celebrate with and appreciate during the holidays.Â We had a blessed holiday season this year, and hope that you and yours did as well!