Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday highlights

Wed night we arrived at Spouse's mom's house. As usual, it felt like an oven so Spouse and his mom got into a little tiff about the temperature inside the house. He and I are practically sweating in short-sleeve shirts while she's wearing pants, a sweater, socks and shoes, has a blanket over her, and complains of being cold. Egads. Fortunately we figured out how to keep our bedroom from being too hot: Spouse's mom closes the vent, puts a telephone book over it, and keeps the door closed. It keeps the room at a reasonable temperature for us.

Thurs we slept in until 9:00, had coffee and visited some more with Spouse's mom, then took showers and picked up my aunt Mary for lunch. She treated us to a fantastic lunch at Wildfire restaurant at the Tyson's Galleria as a belated birthday gift. Since it was my birthday I celebrated with a Stormy Night martini that was absolutely delicious. I could have had 2 or 3 of them and completely forgotten about lunch! But instead, I had parmesan crusted rockfish and mac-n-cheese; Spouse had a bacon/cheese/sour cream stuffed burger and fries; Mary had short ribs with potatoes and carrots. We also shared a side of potatoes au gratin because they sounded so good. And since the waiter overheard us talk about it being my (belated) birthday lunch, he surprised me with a small flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Simply decadent.

After lunch we walked around the mall, which was practically empty considering it was Christmas eve day. The Galleria has a lot of high-end and designer stores at which I can't afford to shop. And since I was slightly tipsy from that martini on an almost empty stomach, I was glad for the chance to walk around and browse the stores before getting back into the car. We had a really nice afternoon with my aunt.

Later that evening we gathered at Spouse's sister's house for a Christmas eve open house and yet another birthday celebration for his mom. (Remember we celebrated her birthday 3 weeks ago on the weekend of MY birthday, but I'm not bitter. Anymore.) In addition to Spouse's siblings and nieces and nephews (I don't refer to them as kids anymore since the youngest is 12 and almost as tall as me) being there, his brother's in-laws came as did his wife's sister and her husband, and a neighbor family, and my longtime friend Kathryn and her cousin Tim. We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed, we gave gift cards to those we wouldn't see the next day. And of course we sang 'Happy Birthday' and ate birthday cake. We returned to Spouse's mom's house shortly after 11:00 and were surprised how tired we felt, after having done nothing all day but eat.

On Christmas day we slept in again until 9:00, then had breakfast with Spouse's mom. As I've mentioned here before, I love this woman dearly but she can really wear me out with her repeating things over and over. And before you think I'm a bad son-in-law for criticising this wonderful 80-year old woman, let me just tell you that she doesn't repeat things because she doesn't remember that she's already told you. A few years ago she started repeating something she'd already told me many times so I said sweetly "Oh yeah, I remember you told me about that", to which she replied "Well I'm going to tell you again", and without missing a beat she told me the exact same story, including the exact same phrases and word combinations. Exactly the same. She knows she's already told you, but wants to say it again, and again, and again for some reason. Sigh.

After breakfast we watched a little TV. Another one of her 'charming' characteristics is narrating TV shows. As we began watching a cooking show on Food Network, she narrated it for us, as if we were blind and unable to see what she saw on the TV screen. "Ooooohhh, look, she's makin' a homemade cake! From scratch! Look at all that measurin' she had to do... flour, salt, bakin' powder... I would never do that. I just buy a box cake mix. You can't tell the difference. Mark, have you ever made a cake from scratch?" I barely got the word "No" out of my mouth when she cut me off. "I would never do that. I just buy a box cake mix. Its so much easier. You can't tell the difference, ya know?" I'm sure that sounds real cute as you read it and picture a darling little 80-year old woman saying that, but let me tell you, it gets old. Real quick.

One of Spouse's mom's more comical characteristics is when she uses similar sounding words that mean different things. Think Archie Bunker. She had me choking with laughter when she said her life at 80 years old was "twilight zone" instead of the "twilight years"! Again I tried to hold back my laughter as she listed the ingredients of ambrosia as "sour cream, fruit cocktail and mushrooms" instead of "sour cream, fruit cocktail and marshmallows"!

At 2:00 Spouse & I left to spend a little more time with my aunt Mary. We exchanged gifts with her and visited for a while at her place. It was very nice. Then she swung by Spouse's mom's house to pick her up, and the 4 of us headed over to Spouse's sister's house for Christmas dinner. We had homemade cheese ravioli, spinach and ricotta stuffed shells, homemade potato gnocchi, homemade meatballs and sausage in 'gravy' (see #7), salad, and sweet potato shuffle. Everything was delicious!! After dinner we exchanged gifts and then watched "Home for the Holidays", which received mixed reviews from the family. God, I LOVE Ann Bancroft!! For dessert we had pumpkin pie, pineapple-orange sherbet jello, and a glass of Prosecco. Do I even need to mention that Spouse's family is Italian?

On Sat Spouse & I met up with our friend Lisa (with whom we stay when we go to NYC) at her parents' house in VA for a visit. Spouse hadn't met her parents before and I knew he'd love them as I do. We had a great visit, then Lisa came with us to our friend Kelly's house where we met up with Kelly, her dad George, and her sister Kerry and her husband Hugh. Lisa's brother Pat has been best friends with Kelly since high school, and went on a trip to Ireland with Kelly, George, Kerry & Hugh, but Lisa had never met them. As I expected, everyone got along famously. We went to an old restaurant I remembered from when I was in high school and had pizza and hippy rolls. Hippy rolls are a long piece of sausage cut in 1/2 length-wise, sauteed peppers and onions, rolled in pizza dough and baked to a golden goodness. OMG, they were as delicious as I remembered! We had a terrific time and hated to say goodbye.

Spouse & I returned to his mom's house and he took a nap while I looked at email and blogs. Then we changed clothes and went to a small cocktail party at Ron & James' house. Our good buddies Mike & Clark were there too, and we had a wonderful time! James made homemade samosas and cookies and we had a new (to me) martini called a Poinsettia. It must be the new 'it' martini because I later read that Bob & Carlos had them on Christmas eve. They were so delicious! I adore champagne and just about anything made with it. The time flew by and before we knew it it was 11:00. We bid our good friends goodnight and returned to Spouse's mom's.

Sun morning Spouse's sister came over and we had coffee and left over Christmas cookies and talked until 10:30, at which time Spouse's mother declared "Let's go out to breakfast. I'll treat." I had 2 eggs over medium, grits, scrapple, whole wheat toast, and coffee. Most of the time I don't eat breakfast but this was really good. When we returned to the house we packed our bags and hit the road. Fortunately the traffic wasn't bad for us, but there was a back-up on the opposite side for several miles.

Christmas really isn't about the gifts for us, which is why there's not much mention of what we got. For us its more about being with family and friends and eating lots and lots of food. We usually give small gifts and/or gift cards for everyone so they can pick out what they want. Gift cards also allow the recipients to take advantage of after Christmas sales, so the dollars go farther. Spouse always gets (costume) jewelry for his mom, sister, and one niece just because he likes buying jewelry. But mostly Christmas is about being with loved ones and eating.

Hope your Christmas was merry and delicious!

Crush du Jour: Daniel Ashton Johnson


Larry Ohio said...

Oh I love Prosecco! My hubby's family is Sicilian and my mother in law makes the best food. My own mother cannot cook to save her life, but my mother in law more than makes up for it.

I know what you mean about the hot house. We keep our house at 68, but Greg's mom keeps hers at 77! O Senor!

I'm glad you had a great Christmas :-)

A Lewis said...

I remember years ago going to my (now ex) in laws. No lie, they kept the heat set at 80. We would wear shorts and t-shirts and no shoes in the winter while they sat around dressed for the outdoors.

Christopher said...

Oh man...all that food talk has got me Hun-Gee !!! Sounds like you guys had a great Holiday!

behrmark said...

You tell a story like no one I know. Thanks for sharing your stories and yourself. Oh and if you'd care to share Daniel Ashton Johnson, by all means, don't let ME stop you! Behr Hugs!

Bob said...

One year when Carlos' Aunt Gl0ria was visiting--and she was not in a good mood that trip--she came out of the guest room and asked, "Could I have some more heat in my room? I'll pay the difference."
After she left I discovered that the vents in her room were closed.

Rick said...

I had to laugh about the temperature of the house. I just took my father home and I made a wonderful fire in the fireplace of the den when we got there. Then I noticed he had his thermostat on 82. When I stood up I thought I would faint. I guess it was pay back for him being cold the entire time here at my home.