Ah, Christmas morning, a time to open presents and eat bagels and lox with cream cheese, capers and onions. Seriously, at our house if you told us that there was a new holiday invented tomorrow we’d find some food that would fit perfectly for the occasion.
Sarah stayed over so we opened presents and ate bagels in a leisurely fashion in the morning. In the afternoon, we headed over to Jon’s for Christmas dinner. Nathan and Sam were both revved for Christmas. Really Nathan more than Sam who was just overwhelmed with the number of people who wanted to pick him up. (He’s so adorable.) Nathan couldn’t decide what to play first or what sweet delicacy to eat first. He was in kid heaven.
Jonathan made braciole with pasta and sauce with a side of Sarah green beans. Ryan and her mom had made pumpkin and cranberry-walnut pies. There were hors d’oeuvres. And wine. It was all good.
What a merry Christmas we had.
On Christmas Eve Sarah came over and made a million cookies. Well, perhaps I exaggerate, there might have been only 100,000. Every surface of the kitchen was covered with some kind of cookie. It was surprisingly orderly but still a lot of cookies.
Jon came over as well to play tennis with John. After tennis playing they all dug into the bags of leftovers from Pilat Eve. Then somehow I managed to find some tiny corner of the kitchen to make a lasagna. When Jonathan was ten or so and Sarah was seven or eight, I gave up on trying to fix something fancy for Christmas dinner. I said, “what would you like to eat on Christmas?” And they shouted back, “lasagna!” So a tradition was born.
Jon stayed around for some lasagna. Sarah finally finished her cookies. John and I fell asleep on the couch. And Raggedy Ann continued to grope Santa at the piano. Happy Christmas Eve!
Somehow not being content with all the birthday celebrations, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve and Christmas in December, Sarah came up with a new holiday called Pilat Eve. The main event of Pilat Eve is, of course, eating but also singing, opening some presents and playing Rock Band.
Sarah made or bought dip, cookies, hummus, veggies, pub cheese and various cheeses, Jonathan and Ryan brought chopped liver and a pie and I made antipasti skewers and bagel chips with lox spread. There were also pretzels and potato chips and dip. No one starved.
We exchanged some presents with Jon and Ryan and the kids. Sam was intrigued by a piece of plastic. Nathan liked his new MegaBlock construction equipment. Jon got two copies of the same golf book. And Ryan will be the most glamorous cook on the block having received cookbooks and mascara.
Unfortunately Rock Band had a malfunction so we couldn’t play this year but we did sing Christmas carols. Nathan had thoughtfully supplied us with songs about snowplows and other heavy equipment to the tunes of well-known Christmas songs.
Yay for Pilat Eve!
At our house we are equal opportunity celebrators. We especially like holidays that revolve around food. And what could be better than a holiday that revolves around fried food!?
So the story goes that the Jews only had enough oil to light their lamp for one day. But, in a miracle, the oil lasted for eight days. Nowadays Jewish kids receive a present each of the eight nights. And you eat foods fried in oil.
We never did do the presents but we have always been all over the eating of fried foods, specifically potato latkes. John is an excellent latke maker. I would tell you the recipe but I don’t know exactly what he does. Frying, though, has always been a mess. Grease everywhere and smoke and smell. But this year John’s got a sweet setup in the garage with an electric wok for the oil and a whole frying station. Our whole garage smells like latkes. There’s grease on our windshields. We laugh everytime we go out to the garage.
On December 16th, Karen and George having recovered from their colds, we celebrated “the birthdays” at Pican in Oakland. George and I have been celebrating our birthdays for at least 30 years now and I always look forward to it.
Pican has a nice bar and its menu is full of interesting small plates and entrees. I had duck. We also shared a serving of their fried chicken which they are known for. The meal was fun and good but Pican doesn’t quite live up to all the hype.
For my third celebration, we went over to Ryan and Jon’s house. Since Sam was asleep at brunch time just Jon,Sarah, Nathan, John and I went out to the “pancake store.” Nathan was his usual adorable self.
In the picture I am getting a big Nathan birthday hug. It was really special. For at least the first 2 1/2 years, Nathan wanted nothing to do with me. He preferred John and didn’t want me to do so much as read a book to him. But now we are good buds. I am the Beeba Monster and am good at playing trucks.
Ryan made a yummy chocolate cake that was flourless. (Baking is weird magic to me.) Everyone sang happy birthday. It was nice. I got a lot of cards.
For the second celebration, Sarah took me out to lunch. Then we went over to her apartment and decorated for Christmas. She looks so happy in the pictures we took. I love being with her. She made my day special.
We were supposed to go out with Karen and George tonight to celebrate the birthdays but George is sick and the dinner has been postponed. Boo.
John and I went out to dinner instead at Fontina’s. We had their calamari steak. It was really delicious and I always enjoy being with my special guy.
This year I thought I’d have a few birthday celebrations. We always celebrate for at least a week and sometimes longer. This is one of those “longer” years although the birthday itself is nothing special. It doesn’t even end in a zero or a five. Maybe once you pass sixty, you celebrate a little longer as an affirmation of still being alive.
John and I went to the holiday party at Chateau St. Jean on December 4. We always enjoy this dinner. We hobnob with one of the winemakers and the chateau manager and drink some library wines. This year the dinner seemed a little smaller portionwise and the wine not quite as free flowing. It must be a sign of the times.
We had a good time and stayed over at the Gaige House in a Zen Suite. They know us there and are always really nice.