Friday, December 17, 2010

memories of christmas past

This time of year often brings up memories from when I was a kid.
Some of them better than others.
I can't say that Christmas was one of my favourite holidays.
(I'm more of a Halloween girl myself)
It's not that I don't enjoy many of the traditions that surround Christmas, it's just that it was never really the happiest time of year at our house growing up.
Not that my parents didn't try their best- but there was always something missing.
that something being-Family.

All of our relatives live out east, so each Christmas was spent with just my parents and brother which always left my mom feeling especially melancholy.
Okay more than melancholy- she was often in tears come Christmas day after talking to all of her seven brothers and sisters on the phone.
Melancholy is a bit of an understatement.
It was kind of a lonely time for us and for some reason we never went out there during the holidays to join in on all that east coast holiday cheer.
(Otherwise known as a boozefest)

So Christmas around our house was usually pretty low key and relatively quiet.
Mind you, my brother and I were usually pretty thrilled with all of our Christmas loot and had plenty to distract us from the lack of comfort and joy around the house.
Bring on the new colecovision!
Nothing like playing a good solid eight hours of Donkey Kong and smurfs on Christmas day.
Gotta love the over abundant commercialism and mass consumption during the seventies and eighties.

Fast forward 30 years and oddly enough not much has changed.
(especially with regards to consumerism..)
Christmas is still really low key, we don't have to make our rounds and do dinner here or have dinner there.
It's just my mom & dad, big daddy, Lulu & I.
We usually just have a quiet dinner here and then that's about it.
Christmas is over for another year.

Only now it's not just my mom who gets kind of melancholy at this time of year, I find myself feeling a little the same.
But do I really want to go to Newfoundland for Christmas?
No, not particularly.
No offence to the rock.
But I would love it if Lulu was surrounded my her extended family.
All the cousins and crazy aunts & uncles and even her great grandmother.
I think that would be so fun for her.
When I hear about other people with so much family living nearby it does make me feel kind of lonely and a bit envious.
I know big daddy feels the same.
Wow what a bummer post.
Okay on the up side- we have each other.

So aside from me feeling a little sorry for myself that my last name isn't Brady, Osmond or most especially Oliver (anyone see Jamie's family Christmas on the food network?)
I have tried to muster up some of the more positive memories from my childhood.
and here they are.

Every Christmas eve we would order Chinese food.
Gosh, even that sounds depressing...
anyhow it was a real treat as we lived in a small town that only had one Chinese restaurant.
At the time I thought it was amazing.
I'm sure these days I would turn my nose up at how unauthentic it really is.
But back then I couldn't wait to sink my orthodontic enveloped teeth into Mr. Panda's cinnamon egg rolls.
They were THE best.
I can still remember the taste all these years later.
Cinnamon in an egg roll. who knew??

Denninger's pate by the fire at my bff's house.
Okay that and the mulled wine we used to sneak when her parents weren't looking.
I loved spending Christmas eve at her house.
Her parents were British and it was always a very English affair.
Right down to the tick tock of the huge old Grandfather clock across from the roaring fire.
Perhaps I have a twisted memory but I could swear everyone was decked out in tweed and plaid each year...

Sneaking frozen shortbread and brownies out of the trunk freezer in the basement with my brother.
We would eat them while they were still frozen solid in the dark.
My brother & I were co-cookie snatching conspirators.
I don't think I was ever as close to my brother then at that moment in time.

Mom's jelly roll trifle.
Actually it was kind of gross (still is) but I loved the jelly roll part.
This year I'm doing the trifle and it will most definitely not involve canned cocktail fruit and canned custard.
Instead I found a great recipe here.

Clove infused ham.
Is there a better smell on earth?
I'll never forget the year my brother (who enjoyed watching Kids In The Hall with me) said to my mom at the dining room table,
"This is F'ing good ham mom!!"
Anyhow my brother still says it every year which I guess you could say is a bit of a tradition.

Okay, so I'm seeing a bit of a theme here.
That being Food.
The best part about the holidays for me is hands down, the food.
It may not make up for the lack of having a big family to celebrate with, but it sure does make it a little easier to enjoy.

What about you, any amazing food associated Christmas memories or traditions you care to share?


Betsy Mae said...

I must tell you that having lots of family around during the holidays can sometimes bring a whole lotta tears too! It's one of those grass isn't always greener situations. I should write a post, it will cheer you right up!

Mac and Cheese said...

Being from a small, Christmas-celebrating, mostly jewish family, we're always trying to scrape together enough designated eaters to warrant a turkey dinner. Not exactly something out of a Rockwell painting either.