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Saturday, January 09, 2010

One untraditional family's untraditional tradition

I've spent most of the day in the kitchen.

Our whole family is coming for our celebration of "Little Christmas" tomorrow. There will be seventeen people here - including all five of our Grandbeauties. It will be flat-out, unbridled, joyful mayhem and madness.

And food. Lots of food.

I can hardly wait!

We decided to go with a 'comfort food' buffet this year. I've made a huge pan of lasagna with ricotta, freshly grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese and meat sauce. There's a separate, small meatless lasagna, made with ricotta, grated Parmesan, and shredded mozzarella and Asiago cheese.

There's a huge vat of home made 'Mac and Cheese' - a favorite of our granddaughters and a hit with the vegetarians among us - made in a homemade cream sauce with tons of shredded Cheddar cheese, sprinkled with buttered breadcrumbs.

Several of our kids love Shepherd's Pie which is made with ground lamb, pork and beef (with tons of garlic and onion and in a brown gravy made from the drippings) in a "crust" of mashed potatoes which is all gently "nested" in a very thin, light philo dough. To absolutely die for. No joke.

Finally, for the Vegetarians and because we have some wee ones who are sometimes a bit choosy about what they put on their plate, I made my almost-world-famous French Toast Casserole - a special request from Ms. Conroy who is already smiling about the 'left overs'. All our kids love French Toast, but Ms. Conroy is a big fan.

It is sprinkled with a mixture of sugar, fresh grated cinnamon and nutmeg and will be served with a choice of warmed raspberry or maple syrup. There will also be some fresh fruit salad and homemade vanilla ice cream available, lest anyone feel deprived.

The adult children are bringing the salad: fresh greens and lots of yummy veggies with blue cheese - and dessert: a huge pan of moist, chewy brownies and and some "Titty Cookies" - our family's irreverent name for those amazing peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss on top. The homemade ice cream will nicely compliment either choice, I think.

One daughter is bringing the beer and wine and some munchies for the Patriot's game which begins at 1 PM, as we have been repeatedly reminded.

One daughter is bringing the champagne and her current beau is making fresh homemade guacamole as an appetizer (gotta keep the strength up while we're opening presents before dinner).

Ms. Conroy is still wrapping presents while I'm taking a wee bit of a break before joining her. The table linens still have to be ironed and I've got one last load of dishes to take out from the dishwasher before I set the table. I'll join her in a bit and help her finish, sipping a Maker's Mark before supper.

Oh, Lord! I didn't make supper! I think I've got some left over Lentil soup in the freezer. That will defrost nicely in the microwave. We can use a bit of the crusty bread as a side. A glass of wine, and all will be well.

I'll give tomorrow's sermon a once over before printing it out - make sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted - and then it's off to bed.

It's gonna be a fun-packed day tomorrow. The most fun, however, will just be hanging out with each other. Catching up on stories about work, school, kids, etc., while sharing memories and cheering on the Patriots.

We started this tradition years ago, when our kids started marrying and having families of their own. It's part of our gift to them - so they don't have to worry about hurting any in-law's feelings about visiting on Christmas Eve or Day, or scurrying around from house to house and being inhibited from starting and enjoying their own family traditions.

So, they are free to do whatever they need to do on Christmas, but Little Christmas is spent here. With us. Everybody all together.

It's the absolute BEST!

While most of the rest of the world thinks Christmas is over, we'll be celebrating ours. And you know what? For a family that would never find itself on a Norman Rockwell cover of The Saturday Evening Post, that suits us just fine.


whiteycat said...

The whole thing sounds great! Have a wonderful day.

Two Auntees said...

What a wonderful idea!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, my friends.

altar ego said...

Sounds absolutely divine. Enjoy every blessed minute of it (which I'm sure you will!).

Hungry Priest said...

What an absolutely brilliant tradition! Have a great time with all your loves tomorrow.

Fran said...

What a great tradition! From all appearances you are about to have a grand day filled with food and lots and lots of love!

Ann said...

And a great way to not have them all underfoot during all the church services!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ah, Ann - what I wouldn't give to have them all underfoot again, even at Christmas and Easter.

Lauralew said...

Love it! And..Go Pats!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yea, Lauralew - another Pat's fan! Woo hoo!

Ann said...

Well there is that Elizabeth. But this sounds a lot less frantic.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hmmm . . . I still have to do two services tomorrow, preaching at both, come home and put all the casseroles in the oven . . . okay, a few less balls in the air, but still a lot of balls in the air.

No matter how you slice it, Sundays - or holidays - and family gatherings are always a frenetic combination.

It all goes by too quickly. I love every minute of it.

One of our daughters just FB'd us saying that as she was putting the littlest one to bed she said, "We have to hurry up and visit Grammy and Nana because they miss me very much." And then her eyes welled up with tears.

See what I mean?

JCF said...

OK, now I'm hungry (and I've already had a big dinner!)

Felicitations on your Great Day, Lisbeth.

Magdalene6127 said...

I hope today is wonderful!

Doorman-Priest said...

I've wanted to save opening presents until 6th Jan for years but domestic - particularly teenaged - rebellion always threatens.

it's margaret said...

A blessed and very merry little Christmas to you all!

Anonymous said...

Just because the shopping ends on the 25th doesn't mean Christmas sshould end too! Months of preparation for one day? I think not. At least in England, 'traditionally' there were 12 days of merriment. Our church back in NY did the pageant on Epiphany Sunday- I thought it was a brilliant idea, on many levels. More kids were able to participate, and the pageant wasn't crammed into an already - packed service. The kids were able to focus more, and everyone could relax & enjoy it.
BTW, who has a traditional family anymore? And when exactly were families 'traditional' Thank goodness we can all loosen up and enjoy our families as they are!;-)