Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Eve

The girls' first Shirley Temples by the tree

I'm posting some photos of Christmas and Christmas Eve a little behind schedule.  But the fact that I'm late about it means I had a great Christmas.  Just the kind of Christmas I needed.  Busy, bustling with anticipation  for weeks until Christmas morning when I just get to sit back and relax and watch the enjoyment on the faces of my loved ones.  After all the work preparing for Christmas I spend the days after just being lazy and eating good food!  It's a wonderful stay-cation in our house the days after Christmas.  I curled up on the floor with a pillow every afternoon for a cat nap.  I was fantastically lazy.

But before then...I was a Christmas mad-woman.  After our Christmas party I had just two days to prepare for our own big Christmas Eve dinner.  I brined our turkey on Monday so it would be ready for the oven on Christmas Eve morning.

Christmas Eve is just as much fun and just as special of a day for our family as Christmas Day is.  My childhood was full of Christmas Eve memories.  It was an evening I looked forward to all year long.  As an adult, with my own family and being so far away from our extended family; it's very important to create our own traditions and hold true to them every year.  We started making a big Christmas Eve dinner in the Philippines and it's become a tradition.  Here in Ethiopia, I've made a traditional American Thanksgiving meal on Christmas Eve for the last two years.

I started the mood off on Christmas Eve morning with a little hot chocolate picnic in the family room for the girls.  They drank it with peppermint sticks and cinnamon sugar toast.  When they saw the tray coming up the stairs they cheered.

This year Christmas Eve was just the five of us.  The anticipation and excitement was so thick in the air I could taste it.  The girls all got their fancy Christmas dresses on early in the morning to be ready for our big Christmas dinner.  I donned a frock as well but quickly topped it with an apron to get to work in the kitchen.  Justin worked most of the day on Christmas Eve so as he was kissing me goodbye with is coffee in hand, I was pulling out our bird and chopping onions for the stuffing.
Along with Christmas Eve dinner, I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.  Something I've been doing for years.  Making them the night before and just popping them in that morning makes my life easier.
The turkey was stuffed and in the oven by 9:30AM which left plenty of time for all the rest of the meal.  Addie helped me peel the potatoes for the big bowl of mashed potatoes.  Turns out she's completely capable of mashing them as well with my hand mixer.  This year I was very excited to learn that my KitchenAid hand mixer makes smoother fluffier potatoes than my big stand mixer.

During the entire process of preparing the meal, our Christmas music is playing and I'm sipping wine.  At some point Bella came skipping into the kitchen and cheerfully asked me. "Can I help you with anything Mommy?", which brought me to tears.  Such generosity and joy on Christmas Eve and a little bit of wine in my system and I was a blubbery idiot.  All the girls helped and it is that much more fun to have my sweet daughters hands in the kitchen helping and making messes with me.
Sneaking bites of the sweet potato casserole.  That was me.

Justin kept the girls entertained during the last painful hour waiting for dinner.  They read fairy tales and danced to Christmas music.

The girls were giddy to cut into the turkey.  Justin and I as well.  We get one turkey a year and it's such a glorious treat in Ethiopia.  To prepare a traditional American meal like this in Addis, is no small feat.  It's a lot of work but totally worth it.

 Ashlynn sneaked into the turkey before it was served and just kept saying, "more", and picking off bites.  We had to steer her towards the table.  A spoonful of sweet potato casserole had her interested until she discovered the holy grail of a turkey meal-the mashed potatoes and gravy!  Once she discovered gravy, it was game over for all other options.  The girls adored the turkey and sweet potatoes while Justin and I oohed and aaahed over the stuffing.  As a kid I hate the stuff, what was I thinking?!  It's perfection with gravy on top.  Oh man, we were in a food coma pretty quick.

Addie wrote a beautiful note for Santa Claus and carefully laid out cookies for him and a carrot for the reindeer.

Addie and Bella giggled in their beds for a few minutes after bedtime and Addie even had to peak downstairs with the pretenses of getting more water.  But once they were out, they were out and Justin and I could enjoy a slice a pie (pecan pumpkin perfection) and watch thirty minutes of It's a Wonderful Life (our Christmas Even tradition) before we were about ready to pass out.

I heard a little rustling down stairs later that night and had to go see if Santa had found us in Ethiopia.  Sure enough, he did and he filled the stockings and tree.  I didn't sleep much that night after that!  I couldn't wait for Christmas Day.

No comments: