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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas 2010

This year I told Dave that I wanted a simple Christmas: to stay at our house and have a Christmas meal with my family here. Of course, it didn't turn out like that at all. I ended up inviting my dad's cousin when I heard that she and her daughter would be in Sacramento on Christmas Eve (they live Reno). But a few days before, she emailed me and said she'd also be bringing her grandsons and one of their friends. Our friends, John and Jessica, were invited when I heard that they'd be staying in town for the holiday instead of flying back East to their families'. And then my in-law's decided to come. So my simple holiday turned into a huge meal for like 15 people. But it was delicious, rewarding, relaxing, and totally worthwhile. I really enjoyed having everyone here with us.

Our mamas:Both Dave and my dad took the week prior to the holiday off of work so they could replace four more windows in our house (they did one of the bathrooms several weeks ago--this time they did the three bedrooms and then my dad and I did the kitchen window). My dad and I started cooking on Christmas Eve...my mom was in charge of cleaning up the kitchen after our massive cooking marathons. Dave couldn't help much since he accidentally drove a screwdriver bit through the side of his finger with the power drill during one of the window installations (Edward took him to the ER but he didn't need to have stitches and the tendon looked okay...thank goodness!).

I wanted to make entirely new dishes for our holiday meal, just to try something different. Dave was confused and upset when I told him my plan. He insisted that I bake a ham and make mashed yams with pecans. So...I did. But I made sure to throw a few new side dishes in. I made saag paneer (an Indian spinach and cheese dish), Brussels sprouts in browned butter (not nearly as good as with browned bacon...so I won't be making those again), and stuffed mushroom caps. We had left over mushrooms since I bought two Costco packs so we just sauteed them up in TONS of butter (like 2 sticks) until they were super brown, and then I dumped in about 1 liter of cheap Chardonnay. We called them Oh My God Mushrooms because they were absolutely divine. I wanted to make a new dessert but settled on crème brûlée because I didn't have time to figure out anything else. My father-in-law like it so much he ate two dishes of it!

Having so many people over to the house in cold weather meant that we needed to set up the patio furniture in the living room in order so seat everyone. I think it worked out well.After everyone left that night, we did Levie-Bower gifts in the living room. I got lots of good loot, mostly books, which is perfect. Eddie got more money for his education fund, yummy treats, a bucket of plastic conduit pieces of fittings from me and Dave (more on that later), and a set of building blocks from my mom. Dave, Edward, and I have really been enjoying those blocks! I never had any when I was little but always wanted some. =) Edward and I made a chapel:We did stockings on Monday after we got the house mostly back in order. In true Jane Levie fashion, our loot was stuffed into plastic grocery sacks. My mom is usually in charge of all the stocking stuffers; I felt bad that she never gets to be surprised by the contents of her own stocking since she buys everything herself so my dad and I went to the Asian market and got lots of treats for everyone. Most of the snacks were the same for each of us (Eddie included), like nori, rice crackers, strawberry Poky sticks, etc. But we made sure to get one person-specific treat each. My mom got mochi ice cream balls, Dave got Thai tea (for making Thai iced tea here at home), Edward got tom ka soup base, my dad got a jar of pickled ginger, I got some spicy-sweet peanut crackers, and well...Eddie just got extra Poky sticks since we knew he'd like those. The only thing my mom didn't get us was a can of smoked oysters. I now that sounds weird for a stocking present but we always ALWAYS get a can of those. I actually asked her if it was a mistake...she said she just didn't do it this year. She could tell we were all disappointed (I seriously look forward to getting my can...and Dave's since he doesn't really like them). Stockings without oysters is like Christmas without a tree...it just doesn't make sense.
That morning Dave and I decided that I should just go up to Gualala with him right then, rather than driving myself up there with Eddie later in the week. So we rushed to pack all our stuff (including left over food) into the van in time for Eddie's nap so he'd sleep on the drive. It was such a nice change of pace to drive up there with Dave instead of just me and Eddie. Ever since we were dating, we've used those car trips up and down the coast to reflect on our lives, make plans for travel and projects, and generally do what couples do together: dream out loud. I've missed that over the last two years of him working up there because we don't get to do that as much.

4 comments:

Team Roy said...

Kyle and I always talk about how much we love driving together. For long drives we usually drive through the night, so its like pillow talk but in a car :-) I love your LOVE for family Christmas traditions.

Kelly said...

Funny, I just posted about our Christmas too - great minds think alike I guess :D

It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas, nice and relaxing, other than cooking for 15, of course - but you're a pro at that!

Jeff and I usually have our best conversations in the car too! The baby is asleep and we get time to just be us for while :D

Can't wait to see pictures of Eddie playing with his bucket of fittings!

Kait said...

I wish I loved to cook as much as you do.

steph.kelley said...

Smoked oysters??? Leave it to the Levies.... :D I've been wondering about those for a while; now will have to try some.