What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave?
I remember a trip to a kitchen store with my Dad to pick out a teapot for my Mom. Apparently I paid close attention to the one she admired and told my Dad, "It's this one." I'm not sure if this is an actual memory, or one that has grown out of stories I've heard over the years... But either way, I smile when I think about it.
What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us.
Lobster Stew was always on the table when I was growing up. My grandparents would come over and we would enjoy a little 'taste of Maine' in the middle of the winter. It was a simple stew, but oh-so delicious! Lobster sauteed with butter in a milk based broth. Always served with oyster crackers. For dessert is was 'Favorite Pudding' ~ chocolate whipped cream layered with graham crackers. Make it the night before so the graham crackers get just-the-right-amount of soggy. Since Gary does not eat any milk based soup and Ben does not eat lobster, we have lasagna on Christmas these days, which is pretty good too.
What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.)
For my family of origin, it was the annual trek into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. This was not a Christmas tree farm, mind you.... but just 'the woods.' It was cold and the kids (mostly me) would complain. But it was fun... Friends would come over and there was always lots of hot chocolate and cookies after as we sat by the wood stove and warmed our freezing toes.
These days, a not to miss tradition is the Christmas Cookie baking and decorating. I think I posted some pictures from last year's adventure. We use cookie cutters, but also try some 'original designs.' Last year Nicky's likeness was captured in a cookie.Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place?
The first few years of incorporating family and church were quite stressful... being a new pastor and a new stepmother were stressful enough on their own. Throw the holidays into the mix and my family ended up having to deal with a crazy woman! Each year it's gotten a little easier, though, and this year I actually feel a sense of calm.....which I am hoping will last through Christmas Eve! As for traditions, ours are pretty, well, traditional. One thing I like about our situation, though, is that for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traveling is not an option. Christmas Day ends up a quiet day just to unwrap presents, eat good food, and enjoy each other's company. The day after Christmas we hit the roads and make the long drive to visit family, which is great... but Christmas Day is a special day to celebrate, unwind, enjoy and relax.
If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be?
Lately Gary and I have been tossing around the idea of going on a Cruise for Christmas next year. Instead of spending lots of money on presents, we would be sharing an experience that would last forever! We're still not sure if we could make it work (with all the 'church' responsibilities and Ben's school schedule and family stuff), but it's still on the table. A less drastic change that I hope we can make next year is to incorporate more charitable giving into our presents. For example, instead of spending $50 on someone, we might spend $40 on 'gifts' and give $10 to a charity of their choice.