This year for Christmas Brent and I drove first to Granbury and then to Dallas to spend time with our families. We spent Christmas Eve with my family which includes my mom, stepdad, sister, brother-in-law, and three wonderful, though all now-taller-than-me nephews.
My family has celebrated Christmas Eve in the same manner every since I can remember. We always started with a formal dinner with real silverware, which had to be polished the day before, and china. There were, of course, pre-planned dress up clothes some of which my mom had sewn with visions of little house on the prairie type memories (at least that's what it seems like to me). Then, as children, we were tortured and the family did the dishes together and put them all away. This was followed by a long process of picture taking where each person sat under the tree and were strategically covered in presents. Then, only when all had their pictures taken, were we allowed to tear into the ungodly amount of presents before us.
As I've gotten older I have learned to cherish those memories. I think that the repeating of the tradition every year only made all of those Christmas memories stronger and more true. As an adult I understand why we did the dishes and the present covered picture taking, as it made it all last longer and made for some really great family memories. I loathe the years I brought home boyfriends which later couldn't be photo shopped out of the picture because it would leave a big gaping hole between me and some mysteriously placed presents. Rude.
As the three nephews have gotten older and the testosterone has outnumbered the estrogen in a 2:1 ratio, the dinner has become a little more casually dressed but the china is still used. Spoiled children no longer have to help with the dishes and we go straight from dinner to presents now, but that's okay because now my mom and I do the dishes and it gives us time to talk and catch up as our relationship has evolved into that of two adults not mother and small child. I'm not forced to do the dishes but I definitely don't like when it chips my fresh new fingernail polish. Polish can be repainted and since I don't see my family all the time it's nice to have some face to face time to talk and do family type things, like cleaning dishes for an army because my mom always prepares a feast.
So now, for the details of the dinner. The dinner menu was the same, for years and years. In the past it was ALWAYS: a starter of a spinach salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, and italian dressing. The italian dressing was the kind you buy in the store with the package and it comes with the bottle where you fill water to the W line, vinegar to the V line, etc. Man that stuff is good. The main course was: a Cornish game hen for each individual beautifully baked with an apricot glaze which made the skin perfectly brown, chewy and delicious. Sides were leisure canned peas and uncle ben's wild rice. I can't remember if there were rolls or not but I imagine there was some type of bread. For dessert it was angel food cake with warm vanilla pudding.
Now the menu changes from year to year as we all add a level of difficulty in our likes and dislikes, with nine people it's hard not to evolve, though I do miss the old menu at times. The execution of the game hens became a challenge unto itself! I realize that I add my own problems to the menu as I change my diet between vegetarian, local, and "normal" eating.
This year we had a definitive feast. We had a local ham, beef tenderloin, homemade cranberry dressing, steamed green beans presented with a sliver of carrot to hold the bunch together, mashed potatoes with real butter and heavy whipping cream, homemade Bearnaise, sauteed mushrooms and steamed asparagus. The one constant is the spinach salad at the beginning of the meal.
The ham was about as local as you can get! My nephew's friend raised the pig last year and my nephew is the one who showed it at a competition. I'm not sure how the pig placed, except nicely on my plate. Oh, that's terrible but the joke was there. C'mon people, laugh!
This was a good Christmas. It was our first one married and we had a truly good visit with the family. There's something about being married that just makes family gatherings more comfortable (especially if there is going to be a sleepover) and it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about cropping Brent out of the pictures later.... he's stuck now.
You can see more pictures here, including a visit to see the pigs my nephew is raising. I hope we don't eat them next year as I've actually petted them and know them by name. I prefer that the meat I do eat remain nameless.