Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stock & Christmas Preparations

I made lots of turkey stock this weekend.  I knew Bobby's mom was going to have tons of leftovers, and I asked if I could have one of the Turkey carcases.  "Of course!"  Ruhlman inspired me.

So last night I chopped it up and spread it around into my three dutch ovens (which made me want a nice stock pot like this one), added bay leaves, thyme, parsley, carrots, celery, parsnips, onions and garlic to each pot, filled with water, and turned on the burners.  I put them on high until the liquid was starting to give off steam, before the boil.  I turned the burners way down until they were barely on, and left them like that for about four hours while Emma, Bobby, and I decorated for Christmas and watched Get Smart.

Get Smart was very funny.  It has been a long while since I've laughed out loud so much at a movie, and it felt good.  Much of it was silly and cheesy, but Steve Carell carries it all off well.  Between this movie and Dan in Real Life, he is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

I'd cleared a spot in the corner next to the television, and we'd picked up a Noble Fir from Home Depot along with a couple of decorations.  Last year was the first year we bought decorations for the house, and I figure we'll pick up a couple each year for few years until we have a nice set.  At my parents we seem to have decorations that go in the same designated spots each year.  The stocking are always hung the same way, with the same false-tree garland lining the top of the board they hang from, and the stuffed Noel bear always wind up in the same spot on the wall.  Before they redid the front of the house, we always had the same garland-lights set that was hung around the front window.  

When I was young, I remember always spending the night before Christmas at my grandparents' house.  There was no door to the back room, where the tree and stockings always were, so the adults would pile the pillows (Gma always had lots of odd pillows around) to fill up the entire doorway.  If any of the kids was trying to peak and knocked it down, there was no way for them to pile the pillows back up that high.

I don't remember when we switched from Christmas at Gma's to Christmas at home and then visiting extended family later in the day or the next day.  The stockings were the key though - where the stockings were is where Christmas morning was going to be.  As we were decorating, but not putting up stockings, I thought about that.  When does that transition occur - when do the stockings move from your parents' house to your house?  

This may sound silly, but the stockings themselves are a question for me.  The organizer part of me loves that the stockings at my family's house are all matching with our names embroidered on them.  But some part of me also loves the idea of always having the same stocking.  Bobby's family has all different mismatched stockings that are all very unique.  What will our stockings be like on the fateful year in which we do switch to Christmas at our home?

My family usually reschedules our holidays, because we are so many and the most important part is that as many of us as possible can be together.  But it means that we don't have Christmas morning together.  One thing about Christmas morning with my family that I loved was German pancakes.  It wasn't every year by any means, but making them was such a production that it only happened on special occasions, and Christmas morning qualified.  Mom and Dad would work together to make the pancakes, that were made only one at a time and required a cast iron pan and the oven, and we would eat them as they came out, warm and crispy, and covered in jam, cinnamon cooked apples, or powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon.  Mmmm... so tasty.

Bobby's family has their own routine.  We all stay the night at his parents' house, but by stay the night, I mean stay up all night wrapping and arranging.  And by all night, I mean 4am or later.  If you were set to sleep on the couch in the living room, good luck.  My sweet spot for sleep is 11pm to 7am, so this is something I'm still adjusting to.  Even 3am is way past my bedtime.  Whether or not we have Emma determines if we wake up at 7am or 8am to start, or if we sleep until Bobby goes to pick her up at 10am.

It's interesting to see how our different customs and traditions meld together, and how we establish our own.  Choosing holiday decorations and deciding where they'll go year after year, and establishing our own holiday routines.  I wonder what traditions we'll develop and keep.

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