Ah, the official Christmas Recap. Anything to pretend all the joy of the season didn’t dramatically stop on December 26th – which is what it sometimes feels like.
Christmas Eve was 77 degrees and sunny. I started the day making the house even warmer by baking gingerbread cookies.
While I’m not a baker, per se, there are two baked items in my repertoire. Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and gingerbread cookies at Christmas. I enjoy making them just as much as I love eating them. Since Tall Guy and I are working with a health coach to lose some weight, and cookies are currently off-limits, I’d considered not making cookies this year. In the end, my love for the ritual won out. We’d just give the majority to neighbors and keep a (small) predetermined number of cookies for ourselves to eat on Christmas night.
Going off a tip from a friend, Tall Guy and I thought we’d do a little last-minute shopping. While I’d assumed the malls would be madhouses, a friend assured me she makes a tradition of shopping on Christmas Eve and that the stores would be empty. She was wrong. The roads should have tipped us off.
It seemed like the entire city was driving. And driving like they were blind or drunk. Or both. As we came toward the mall, we saw four near-accidents. People were changing lanes without looking, cutting other people off and everyone was getting angry about it. About ten yards before the mall entrance there had been an actual car accident. About twenty yards into the mall parking lot we were greeted with honking and a female driver yelling out of her window (not at us). We should have turned around and gone home, but forged ahead.
After a quick lunch on an outdoor patio we headed into the madness. Tall Guy wanted to look at hats. Since I’d already purchased some baseball caps for him as a gift, I attempted to deflect the idea without giving it away. Unfortunately, he kept pushing it. My final warning of “you really shouldn’t shop for things that you might get for Christmas” successfully stopped him, but also completely let the cat out of the bag. From the mall we hit Bed Bath & Beyond (a second fondue pot), JoAnn Fabrics (cookie boxes), Home Goods (a spiralizer), and the grocery store (Christmas feast ingredients).
Back home, I decorated a portion of the gingerbread cookies while watching NBA basketball. After making the rounds and handing out boxes of cookies to neighbors, we sat down to a Christmas Eve dinner of hickory smoked pork chops (part of an early Christmas gift from Tall Guy’s parents) and jicama-pepper salad. We retired to The Nightmare Before Christmas on Netflix.
Christmas morning was spent on the couch, in pajamas, watching A Christmas Story. We opened gifts and gave new toys to all the animals. One of my gifts was a Chicago-themed jigsaw puzzle, so we started work on that. We walked Ham (the dog) to the dog park. While we saw bicyclers in the park, there wasn’t a single other dog around. Ham doesn’t mind. He tends to be very antisocial at dog parks. People? Loves ’em. Dogs? He has a few doggie friends he loves, but couldn’t care less about the rest of the canine world.
And then we worked to prepare our Christmas feast.
It is my family’s tradition to make a French cheese-based fondue on Christmas Eve. Since we’re working to lose weight, we decided we’d make Christmas Day the only day we strayed from our meal plan. In addition, we decided to aim for a smaller amount of the cheese and pair it with a broth-based fondue. After a couple hours of preparation and cooking we sat down to this gorgeousness.
Cheese fondue with baguette and Gala apples. Broth fondue with filet mignon, bacon, chicken, shrimp and lobster. And for either broth, we had broccoli, cauliflower, portobello mushrooms and artichoke hearts. (We’d also purchased butternut squash, but forgot to put it on the table) It was decadent, to be certain. But it was delicious.
Finally, we turned on It’s a Wonderful Life and ate our gingerbread cookies.
What can I say? I like my cookies with a little whimsy.
Here’s hoping you’ve all celebrated a joyous Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa season!