Ah, the Monday before Christmas, the day after solstice. We're looking forward to things settling down a bit before we get back to it in January. In the meantime, there are things occupying the frontal lobe (whether that's anatomically correct or not).
- New holiday traditions: I have probably mentioned that our family decided during our last get-together for the holidays to not require anyone to travel anywhere for Christmas. I'd been looking forward to starting some of our own traditions although it's hard for us not to have the boy here with us. Last night we had a Solstice party, which was a lot of fun. I'd had ideas about how I wanted the party to go, but in the end, I just decided to let it be, and let my friends celebrate the season in whatever way they saw fit. With the few remaining guests, we lit sparklers at midnight in our backyard. I think I'll keep that "ritual."
- Longstanding traditions: My parents sent us a package with gifts and lots of great German chocolate. I do not have a Bunte Teller here - a festive plate where my goodies go (my parents have one for me at their house), so I'm looking at our collection of vintage serving platters to see if there's a smaller one I can use. Who knew I'd miss having my own Bunte Teller? The other major tradition I have is that we eat potato salad and wursts on Christmas Eve* and then open our presents. The ladyfriend may have complicated that plan by making plans with another friend, but I think we've gotten it back on track. I did say that I'd consider moving the potato salad meal to Boxing Day, but I'm hoping that's not necessary.
- Too many "sale" emails: I've found myself unsubscribing from email lists almost daily because I'm tired of the appeals to buy, buy, buy, and more, more, more. Sure, some of them I read and consider (Alabama Chanin is having a sale after Christmas...hmmmm), but for the most part I resent what feels like a desperate cry to shop and consume. I just sent off the boy's holiday gift, which means I'm essentially done! Yay! I'd just like a little reprieve from the solicitations.
- My newly organized and cleaned office: It's been a long time coming, but I finally managed to make my tiny office on the main floor (I have two "half" offices - spaces that are shared with other objects or purposes) work. I got a shelf from Ikea, and now I have places to put things. We moved a chair from the living room into it (ostensibly to make room for the Christmas tree), and I love sitting in it and just looking at my books or knitting. I'm hoping that I can find a chair to replace this one after the holidays. It's amazing how a fresh and organized space can do so much for you.
- A gift for the reader: Here's the recipe for the punch I made last night. I love that the printout has my writing, in blue highlighter, saying "Yummy." It is, but let me warn you - it can sneak up on you.
Sleigh Ride Punch (Emeril Lagasse recipe)
2 quarts cranberry juice (doesn't specify sweetened or what; we used one sweetened with apple & pear juice)
1 pound tangerines, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 quart Sprite
1 liter of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
Festive ice mold (I just use regular ice cubes; that's pretty festive to me)
In a saucepan, bring the cranberry juice, tangerines, ground cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. This will infuse the tangerines and spices into the juice. Chill the infused juice completely. In a punch bowl, whisk the juice, Sprite, and rum together. Chill the punch completely before serving.
Cheers! And happy holidays!
*For the longest time I thought this meal was a German tradition. Then one year, my mother wanted to make something else, and I was incensed. It was then that she explained to me that it wasn't a German tradition, it was an easy meal to make before the "main event" on Christmas Day.