Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

The Christmas part of Christmas (or Christmas in parts)

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With dispersed families, Christmas celebrations get dispersed over various events, not all of which occur on December 25.

DH and I traditionally hold “our” Christmas on the weekend before we go north. We exchange whatever gifts we’ve bought for each other, and have a Christmas dinner.

This year was no exception. For the dinner, I decided to follow an entire menu provided in the Nutrition Action Newsletter. The biggest challenge, apart from it just being a lot of dishes (turkey breast, stuffing, wild rice salad, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin dip, cranberry apple pear crisp), was that a lot of the recipes were for 8-10 people — way too much for two. So not only was I just making a lot of different dishes, and I was having to do arithmetic (divide in two) on all the ingredients as well.

But everything turned out well. Though all “healthy”, nothing was lacking in flavor. The cranberry sauce was nicely punched up with ginger, the sweet potato topped with walnuts and coconut. And I liked that the stuffing was much less greasy and salty than stuffing usually is.

For gifts, we went small, since we’re looking at yet another trip soon. With the help of very specific hinting, I get very cute pyjamas in a musical theme (“Here comes treble!”), but was also surprised with some new little kitchen gizmos. The gift I was most excited for DH to open was a bottle of Stratus White that I’d spotted at an LCBO, despite its being completely sold out at the winery itself. Tasting notes:

The 05 Stratus White invites the awesome comment. Cliché but true. Feels like Chardonnay Musqué on steroids–delightfully excessive. A wine to propose with, or serve with foie gras, perhaps to mark an anniversary celebration.

The next event was up north, on the eve of the 24th, which is when French Canadians celebrate Christmas with a Réveillon. Food features prominently here, with little appetizer thingies like bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, sweet and sour meatballs, devilled eggs, smoked salmon canapes, shrimp, sucre a crème, and so on.

The gift exchange is more on the jokey side. Everyone gets a $10 gift on a theme, this year’s being “Cowboy”. Then we sit and play a “left / right” passing game until you end up with whatever gift in the end. I threw a Cowboy Junkies CD in the pot.

On the third day of Christmas, it was finally December 25. But Christmas morning was pretty quiet, just DH, me, and my parents, as one sister was staying in Toronto, another not due up until Boxing Day, and the brother’s family only stopping by later that day. So we did a leisurely breakfast, then each of us opened our stocking things, and DH and Dad exchanged gifts, since they had each other’s names.

We split up for Christmas dinner, each joining our respective parents’ for the traditional turkey feast. I did get to see my brother’s family at this point, which is always fun, along with some aunts and uncles.

So Boxing Day was another event, as finally all the kids (my brother’s and my sister’s) could get together. The reunion occurred later than originally expected, due to a stomach bug that struck my brother and his wife (though not the kids). It was crazy-ness when they were finally all together, tearing through their remaining presents.

I also opened my gifts from my brother-in-law, who had my name. Got a very nice-looking exercise top (that I probably won’t limit to workout wear — it’s pretty cute), the Who’s Amazing Story DVD that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the past couple days, a nice pair of earrings and necklace from the One of a Kind show (and thinking my sister may have helped with the shopping here), and a Paul Anka Rock Swings CD.

Yes, Rock Swings — Paul Anka doing songs like Jump, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Black Hole Sun in his style. This was purchased in all seriousness, since I’ve been known to enjoy oddities such as dance-mix and orchestral versions of Queen songs. But this CD is something else. We played it one night and, well, you almost have to hear it to believe it. It was quite the conversation piece for us.

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