01 January 2010


One of the things that concerned both Kathleen and I was spending another Christmas away from our families. We both enjoy our families so much that is was hard to think of missing out on all the fun for a second year in a row. I know for Kathleen this includes an amazing seafood dinner at her Mom’s, some complicated game usually involving cards (that I suck at) with her brothers, and Christmas morning itself at her Dad’s. For me Christmas is a chance to just laugh a lot with my family. When the three of us are together, my brothers and I always tend to behave like idiots. However when you add in some holiday cheer (aka copious amounts of alcohol), it really is pretty perfect. However Kathleen and I resolved ourselves to Christmas over here in late summer and although there was a valiant (and very very touching) attempt to get us back there last minute, we had already put plans in place.
The tree was purchased and went up the first weekend in December. Although this was a bit early for me historically, it definitely got things kicked into gear quickly. That same weekend we bought Christmas Vacation and White Christmas on DVD and watched Elf for the first time. We also listened to the Elf soundtrack a good dozen or so times which insured that I had Christmas carols thoroughly stuck in my head for the next 4 weeks (who knew that I happen to run to the exact tempo of every carol every written?). Anyhow, this first weekend was when we also started to lay out the menus for our first Christmas as a family. We figured since it was just the three of us, we were free to experiment as much as we wanted with the food.

I was to be in charge of Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas breakfast. Kathleen took on the task of planning and executing the main event’s evening meal. Although it seemed like she had the tougher of the tasks, I did not know about the ace that was still up her sleeve. You see Kathleen had to travel back to the US for the entire week before Christmas. The morning of her departure (at least that is what it seemed like) she handed me a two page list of groceries to purchase while she was away. When I asked why we had to get everything so early she proceeded to tell me how chaos prevails during Christmas at the grocery store and the shelves will emptied like there was nuclear war imminent. I consoled myself by deciding that this surely meant I could add whatever things I wanted to the list including two bottles of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, sour cream and onion Pringles, frozen mini-pizza apps, and a package of Millionaires Flapjacks that the British creepily describe as ‘naughty’ but are ridiculously good tasting and awful for you. (Oh and for the record, despite going to do the main shopping 10 days early, we returned to the grocer three more times and it was never really that crowded nor bare of food).
The weekend she did get home, we received our first flurries of the year. Snow is just so stupidly exciting for me; I was automatically in an amazing mood. That Sunday we had also planned to go see the Messiah. I have seen it performed numerous times with my parents in the US, and when I lived in Japan I saw it done by a Japanese Catholic choir. Kathleen and I also saw it performed in Montreal at an old cathedral one winter and it was amazing. I also have fond memories of listening to this with my dad as he enjoys a glass of scotch and explains why everyone stands during the Hallelujah chorus. So this is a holiday must for me and we were looking forward to it in the modern Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. To summarize, it was long, cold, acoustically poor, and the champagne spritzer served at Intermission was undrinkable... We made it until the end of the Hallelujah chorus and then jetted out the back door. Sure the head priest gave us a dirty look, but come on the man was wrapped in a heavy blanket like robe while the rest his flock was freezing! Ahh… the holidays!
Kathleen had to work on Christmas Eve despite her numerous attempts to change her bosses mind (as well as some direct email pleas/commands to him by yours truly). Miller and I woke up, ran, and then settled in to a three hour extended edition of Aliens while we waited for her to get home. I can say that watching this particular movie with my dog was pure bliss and relaxation. That evening I cooked a red Thai curry with shrimp. Despite our lack of religious beliefs, Kathleen wanted to stick with the seafood tradition, and we had fun drinking Irish whiskey and de-veining shrimp. The curry turned out pretty amazing. After opening one gift each, we settled in to yet another viewing of Elf.
We woke up around 9am on Christmas day which was actually the latest I think I have every gotten up. First thing was to take Miller out to Sefton Park and make sure he got some exercise. It had actually snowed a few inches the night of the 23rd and that dog loves chasing snowballs. The night of the 24th was super cold and the park was like a skating rink which made the whole walk even more amusing. He is just not too good on his feet (takes after his Mom I suppose). When we got back to the house we did the presents thing and we definitely made out like bandits. I guess everyone felt bad we were all alone?? After the carnage, I proceed to make Kathleen stuffed French toast. This was one of her favorite breakfasts we used to get at Blue Star in Winooksi. I did not do it justice, but stuffed hers with a ton of banana, and added fresh nutmeg and real Vermont Maple Syrup to add to the deliciousness.

Christmas dinner is where Kathleen took over, rightfully so. She had bought a pork loin from a local butcher and found an amazing recipe involving lots of spices and honey. She had it cooking in the oven most of the day and it definitely turned out delicious. In addition to the pork loin she cooked a sweet potato spinach gratin that we somehow convinced ourselves covered off the ‘vegetable’ part of the meal. To finish it all off she had baked a Waiting for Wilma pecan pie made with melted dark chocolate and dulce de leche. It was so sweet that we could only eat it slivers at a time, but was pretty amazing.

We capped off our celebration with a few beers watching the Johnny Cash Christmas Special from 1979. This was amazing in so many ways. It is too much to describe but I say watch it and get ready for the softer side of the Man in Black.

All in all it was a pretty great holiday. We definitely missed our families and spent a lot of time, calling, texting, and ‘web-camming.’ However it also pretty rad for the three of us to hide out over here and enjoy each other’s company. This whole year has just been amazing for us to be able to spend so much time together and I am not quite sure if we will ever have another opportunity to do so. I think it is a pretty good sign that we are not sick of each other yet as well.
Having thoroughly done the holiday, we started to pack our bags for Scotland!

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