Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Traditions, past and present.

I miss my family and it's always harder around the holidays. I have not been home for the holidays in quite a few years. With a guaranteed layover on a flight from Washington to Maine, over a million passengers rushing to get somewhere and the possibility of inclement weather looming, we prefer to fly home in the Summer or Fall. That doesn't mean I don't get nostalgic every year around the holidays and wish we had made the trip home anyway.

I remember Christmas as a kid. We were always up bright and early to get the holiday underway. I remember the gifts extending fifteen feet from the base of the most beautiful tree. My Dad always picked the tree, and while he did not go all Clark Griswold, we always had a very beautiful full tree. And I know the gifts did not come out fifteen feet but that's just how I remember it. I remember the vintage bulbs, the bubble lights and plenty of tinsel. My parents still have all the ornaments from when I was little the hand painted angel I made, the ones I helped pick out and the ones I cupped in my tiny hands as a kid.

I remember my Grandparents always coming over early for Christmas. We always opened our stocking gifts at the table during breakfast. As the scent of homemade cinnamon rolls wafted through the air and Bing Crosby crooned from the record player in the living room, I would unwrap grape Lipsmackers lip gloss and Love's Baby Soft perfume from the same knitted snowman stocking Santa filled years earlier. After stockings and breakfast it was off to the living room for what seemed like a six hour event of passing and opening gifts. Then dinner, our traditional Christmas ham dinner was always delicious and our table went on forever with everyone passing yummy food to one another. It was perfect, we were together and that was our tradition.

I am sure all of that still goes on, maybe a little differently but pretty much the same way. While I miss all of that, knowing they are all there together makes me happy.

So now on Christmas I try to blend the "being away" from home with the "traditions" of home and we have ended up making our own traditions right here in Washington.

Like Gingerbread Lobsters.

I call home every year and get passed around wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" and a "I wish I could be there too." Then Clyde and I start in on our traditions here in Washington. We sleep in a little late, but still open our stocking gifts with breakfast. I still have the same stocking from when I was a kid and while it has not seen any Love's Baby Soft, it does seem to include some version of lip gloss every year. Bailey always has a few gifts to open from Santa and Clyde and I always exchange gifts. We have the same Christmas breakfast, cinnamon rolls and coffee, orange and grapefruit salad, and tomato and basil quiche. Disclaimer, this year my cinnamon rolls were awful, they did not rise or bake right and so in my lemons to limoncello way, I toasted an english muffin, slathered on some irish butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I have to admit not exactly like cinnamon rolls but a pretty good stand in just the same.

Our stockings, my vintage early 1970's handmade stocking on the right and my Aunt was so lovely to knit one for Clyde a few years ago to match, on the left.

Gifts wrapped under the tree.

Someone was excited to open his gifts.

He loves to open gifts.

After our Christmas at home we traveled to our dear friends, Diane and Bela's for Christmas dinner.

Let me just apologize right now that I did not take more photographs as Diane prepared a meal worthy of a four page spread in Bon Appetite magazine. The main course was roast pork tenderloin with, fennel pollen, and it was divine. She even showed me the tiny jar she collected the pollen in, from the fennel growing in her garden. It was all so good, dear friends, wonderful dinner, great wine and festive merriment.

The table was beautiful.

Even the wooden art dolls were in a festive mood with their own tree to decorate.

It was a wonderful Christmas blended with traditions old and new and I am thankful for all of it.
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