This has been the most soul-nourishing midwinter festival in years.
It kicked off on December 22 with ACT's Christmas Carol , in which one of JumperGirl's relatives had a part. The theater buffs in the crowd pronounced the production "excellent". We preceded the theater with dinner at E & O Trading Company. The small male relatives of the actress were grumpy about the food choices until they were persuaded to try the calamari (battered & deep fried), which they loved & wanted more of those "really good chicken nuggets". (I think that locution will pass into the family lexicon.)
[Real-time interruption: thunder over San Francisco Bay. This is rare.]
Next up: Christmas Eve dinner. The guest list is usual for our family: TankMan's Wife #1 and her two sons (my stepsons) & their wives & children; me (TankMan's Wife #2), TankMan's sister & husband & brother & husband, my sister Suz and her husband Fred....and whoever else we can rope in. This year, it was TankMan's cousins from New Mexico. TankMan's sister is also my dear friend. We gathered at her new apartment, as her mother lives next door, and it made it easier for JumperGirl's grandmother to attend. The gathering was Gemütlich -- we all enjoyed each other's company very much.
In the Ditz/Goodwin side of the family, this is the big fancy deal, and has a fairly unvarying menu (also applies for Thanksgiving):
- Roast turkey with stuffing & extra stuffing, cooked outside the turkey
- Two kinds of gravy (one from turkey juices, and one hors de combat)
- Cranberry sauce from the can. Extra points for the ridges being intact. Extra extra points for the old-fashioned "can read the expiration date from the stamp on the bottom"
- Cranberry-orange compote
- Mashed (or whipped) potatoes, extra rich
- A green vegetable (traditional is green beans almondine, but that isn't canonical)
- Bill's sweet-sour brussels sprouts (this is new since about 2003)
- Creamed onions (rapidly losing its canonical status)
- Sweet potatoes (extra sweet & spicy, with marshmallows)
- Bill's chocolate pumpkin pie
- Bill's berry pie
- A bûche de Noël (storebought)
- Ice cream
Back in the olden days, when I was a girl, the menu also required:
- A gelatin salad. When my grandmother Ditz was alive, I remember a clear, tangy gelatin with green & red crunchy bits and a tangy dressing. Later, the lamentable lime jello with....formerly fruits. And a mayonaise dressing. I tried the ancestral Ditz salad one year. Alas, the people of America have lost their taste for cruncy bits suspended in gelatin.
- A commercially-produced ice cream "snowball".
Christmas morning, JumperGirl and I got up, opened presents, and then commenced the Round of Visiting. First we went to JumperGirl's childhood home, where she had a lovely visit with her younger brother and sister, while I went for a walk. We then drove up to her father's grave where we ate chocolate chip cookies & just....sat with the memory of her father.
Then we proceeded to my youngest sister's house and played and visited. The in-laws were there and in fine fettle, which was extremely good news as there had been a big health scare during the summer.
On to my next younger sister's house, where more gifts were exchanged and a good time was had by all. Then back to our house for a nap, and then
On to ScholarMan and ScholarWoman's house, with the usual suspects. The primary entertainment was ScholarBoy1 (aged 17 months), who showed off some new words (car) and behaviors (taking your hand and tugging you to a new play venue; reliably following two-step instructions). ScholarWoman produced a lovely, proper English Christmas dinner.
Home to a food coma. On Boxing Day, JumperGirl and her cousin went to the Academy of Sciences and then we all went out for Thai food.