Here we are midway through the final week before Christmas. I feel like I am fairly well-prepared, but very much on the brink of a whirlwind of activity.
Most of the gifts are bought – tomorrow I’m going to stop and buy a few last things on my way home from my midwife appointment, and on Friday we’re planning to go to Target as a family and pick up gifts for the annual Christmas Eve Game at my cousin Ron’s house. I have a small pile of presents left to wrap, and I think I may tackle that yet tonight. All the presents are piled in my office closet to prevent conflict with Miss Julie over them, at least till after she’s in bed Christmas Eve.
Somehow I snookered myself into hosting seventeen people for Christmas Dinner, an exciting prospect for sure…I love cooking for others, especially if I feel there will be a chance that they’ll appreciate it…but I’m a little apprehensive about the actual cooking part since standing at the counter for long periods is really tiring when you’re carrying an extra 30 pounds around your belly. I did most of the grocery shopping last night, and all that food in the cart looked a little intimidating as I headed to the checkout. I’m going to start some of the prep work probably on Friday – stuff like cleaning and scoring the chestnuts for after-dinner roasting, maybe peeling some of the hardier vegetables, and definitely figuring out which serving dishes stuff is going into and digging it out of the basement. The pies and some of the casserole type stuff will be made on Saturday.
My menu is really almost shamefully simple:
-prime rib roast (with either spicy rub or garlic and rosemary – haven’t decided yet, and may do some of each)
-mashed potatoes (pretty plain-jane, but they’ll like it – I usually put a little sour cream in my version along with the butter and milk)
-gravy (at least I make mine from scratch, unlike many people I know. I DO NOT understand buying gravy out of a jar or a powdered envelope. YUCK!)
-green beans, stir-fried with red bell peppers and cashews in bacon grease with bacon crumbled in and some other seasonings. This is my compromise to the green bean/cream of mushroom soup casserole that I can’t stand and will not serve.
-sweet potatoes – I admit, I’m doing the marshmallow-topped casserole because it was one of my childhood holiday favorites and still is.
-Joe’s cousin is bringing a ham and bean casserole thingie, which tastes good and is, I’m sure, really bad for you.
-Joe’s mom is bringing chop che (probably not spelled correctly), which is a korean noodle dish and is my absolute favorite; and a big pot of rice
-Joe’s aunt is bringing some yet-to-be-disclosed korean dish, which I’m sure will be awesome
-Oh, and dare I admit that there are three cans of Pillsbury croissants in my fridge right now? They are gross, but I love them, and people seem to expect some kind of dinner rolls at these events.
For dessert, I’m making a french silk pie, an allergen-free pumpkin pie that is good enough to pass for normal. I cheated and bought Redi-Whip because I’m going to be exhausted at that point and don’t want to miss the party standing in the kitchen making homemade whipped cream that I will be the only one to appreciate. I bought a box of clementines and a couple of bags of chestnuts. A family friend is bringing some korean dessert-style rice cakes too. The koreans really only want the fruit and nuts for dessert, and I’ve almost gotten used to that as far as Christmas celebrations are concerned…but that won’t stop me from eating some of the chocolate pie…and there will be some other white-bread americans here besides me, too.
Oh, and appetizers include chex mix, a relish tray with olives and pickles and carrots and celery and stuff like that, and some chip and dip that I make which is super-easy but is awesome eats.
Saturday and Sunday will be crazy-busy days in our home. I really want to make sure I have and take the time to enjoy watching Julie experience this Christmas as well. This is really the first one where she’s aware that a holiday is happening and seems to be excited about it. I know she’s going to be excited about her gifts. I almost wish there could be two of me – one to spend the whole day in the kitchen making a perfect meal, and another to spend the whole day playing with her. Christmas is a crazy time. Nothing new there!
I’m also very excited that tomorrow is Knitting Night. I’m hosting it this time, and our friend Keri who moved to Pennsylvania a couple years ago is in town and will be coming. What a great chance to catch up with her! Luckily, that is a very laid-back affair, we will be ordering in pizza, and the most I have to do is excavate the living room from the normal daily pile of toys.
And finally, today’s holiday joy – Julie and I spent our afternoon at Marshall Field’s annual holiday display. For those of you not familiar with our local department store chain, soon to be assimilated into the Macy’s brand, they have an annual animated display that tells some story. This year it is Cinderella, last year it was Harry Potter. It is pretty neat, and it is free and something cool to do with a small kid. Julie was very patient as we waited through the long line to get in, and seemed to enjoy the scenes and maybe she even understood the story a bit too. When we got home, she kept talking about how sad Cinderella was and that she was locked in her room.
Now I’m off to wrap those presents, then bed at a more reasonable hour tonight! The in-laws will be here at the crack of dawn to watch Miss J while I go see the midwife.