Figuring out how to balance two family Christmases, separated by 700 miles, is a difficult task to begin with, but the addition of a less than traditional emergency room work schedule adds just another wrinkle. I think it's safe to say rare will be the year that we actually celebrate Christmas on the 25th, from this point forward. Fortunately, we were able to work out an early Christmas with Matt’s family traveling up to see us on Sunday – which meant, my first time hosting an official holiday! With the in-laws! Ok, I say that as if the underlying message is “pressure’s on!” but truth be told, my fam-in-law are the sweetest, kindest people ever and even if I burnt the entire meal, they’d probably be all “But your napkins rings look perfect!” (And I’m not just saying that because my dad-in-law reads this. Hi Dad!)
I had fun planning the menu, trying to do a fairly traditional holiday dinner, but not get too in over my head. My favorite thing to make was the homemade yeast rolls. They were super easy, but I felt very Pioneer Woman tossing flour all over the place and pounding rolls into little balls to drop into a big ol’ greasy pan. I won’t go all play by play of the food on you here (holding myself back) but the rest of the meal was quite scrumpty too.
Okay, wait indulge me one more… for my male readers… I’ll mention the meat. My first time making a prime rib! It was perfect. I got a little nervous when I realized my meat thermometer, which has worked faithfully for four years, broke. TODAY. Of all days. Couldn’t have broken when it was just me and Matt and I might be worried about a little trichinosis from undercooked bbq, ooooh no, thermometer you had to break on my very first Holiday Dinner with The In Laws. (Well... at least my napkin rings were pretty, right?) Without any other choice, I just followed the timing and temperature in my recipe (from Everyday Food) and prayed for the best. I breathed a sigh of a relief when Matt started carving and the meat was not still moo-ing. Not moo-ing, and very very tasty. Success! Thank you oven gods!
After we ate, we gathered together to exchange presents and even Buddy was able to get in the goods. (Look at that tongue… Micah knows the way to a puppy dog’s heart.)
I ran into a little snafu handling Matt’s gift. I had gotten him part of one of those heavy duty Craftsmen tool chest, which was very kindly loaded into *his* trunk by the Sears sales guy. I got home and went to get it out to wrap and it, um, well... looks like I need to go back to doing some 30-Day Shred. Couldn’t even move the darn thing. Soooo I wrapped it right in the trunk and prayed that he would have no reason to go into his trunk for the next 2 days. When it came time for unwrapping his gift, I forced my family to tromp out to the garage together. Nothing like the smell of gasoline to get you in a festive mood, right?
We so enjoyed hosting our family… although I must say, I have a whole new appreciation for all that my grandmothers, aunts and mother who have hosted many a holiday (or other family gathering) have gone through before me. The time it takes to get the meal ready, your house all spiffy and smelling nice, and the insane timing of cooking everything…good grief. It's enough to make a girl put Papa J's on her speed dial. So if I haven’t said it before, here’s another resounding thank you to all the “been there, done that” women in my families. But I understand why we do it – it is so worth it to have your family gathered around a meal you made, relaxing in your home that you take care of, and appreciating their time together. Maybe the novelty of this will wear off after I’ve done it year after year, but as for now, as 1950s as this might sound, I truly do enjoy homemaking. (Though I hesitate to put this in print…I have a feeling someone might reference this post when I complain the next time I have to vacuum up dog hair tumbleweeds.)
On that lovely note, I leave you with this… Merry Christmas, from the Cline family. May your meat be cooked, your presents clock in at less than 75 pounds and your family be together this holiday season!