it remains strange to have Christmas without Grandma (Mickey), but otherwise our traditions remain fairly unchanged - even with celebrating in Knoxville instead of Nashville. this year, for the Cookie drop we made Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies with icing, and pecan puffs. we also added on Ranger cookies - who knew dates and coconut would work so well together - and... [drumroll please] gingerbread cookies! it had been long enough since the great gingerbread debacle of 2002 that we were willing to try again. we used an entirely different recipe (which we completely screwed up the first time round anyway) and eventually ended up with cookies that behaved suspiciously like food!
we followed Grandma's approach to the puffs to the T [only use cake flour, sift three times before measuring, use room temperature butter, roll in Confectioner's sugar a second time once the cookies are truly cool....] and we came surprisingly close. next year we think we will nail it. the peanut butter cookies, Mickey's other specialty, were yummy but not nearly as close to replicating her genius. as we decided it should be. we do have some ideas for next year though.
*don't worry- there were a few left for our own noshing...
because i was on clinics through Christmas eve morning, we were up awfully early and ended up too tired for the 11 o'clock Christmas eve service. instead, we all gathered round the table with Grandma's little ceramic tree, Mom told us how Grandma would read the Christmas story from Luke to them when she was a child, and then she read it to us by candlelight. it was quite special and really felt like Mickey was with us. we reflect about how terrifying it must have been for Mary, a teenage girl with no mother in sight, to labor amongst the cows to bring forth the Greatest Gift.
to bed we retreated, in hopes of sugarplums and reindeer and peace and goodwill. Christmas morning we woke to discover full stockings. A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart (one of our favorite versions) played while Mom and I made the cranberry relish, bread dressing and prepped the turkey. then we all dug in to our stockings with glee. we listened to the Muppets Christmas with John Denver while enjoying scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. [and bacon!] we were going to have mimosas with our breakfast like Mickey loved so much, but we forgot to pick up Champagne!
after breakfast, we made final preparations for the Cookie Drop:
since it is the first time we have 'dropped' in Knoxville, it took a lot of legwork to track down our fire stations, ERs and police but we were up for the challenge. Roland drove and Travy kept us out of trouble. this year we visited my work (the animal ER is open for Christmas as well, you know), the Bearden Fire Station, City of Knoxville Fire Station on Portsmouth, Highway Patrol, John Duncan Fire Station, TSA screening at the Tyson-McGhee Airport, a failed attempt at the alleged police station near our house (bad intel on this one), Park West Medical ER and then - just for good measure since we knew they were open - the Thai restaurant.
we were a bit uncertain about how we would be received now that the terrorist 'threat' is a constant orange, but everyone was happy to see us and the firemen especially wouldn't have minded if we stopped to stay awhile! we aren't sure if the TSA people ate their cookies - they don't have history with us like they do at BNA in Nashville - but we enjoyed delivering them so either way it was a success.
home was a welcome sight as the clock rolled round to 3:30. it took no time at all to pop the turkey in and then finally it was time for presents. Roland loved his socks (whew!); Mom loved her stole, socks and footies; and Travy was totally shocked (in a good way) to receive his slippers. i was quite well-spoiled as well. Travy gave me wool and yak fiber, a special project bag for Madrona, DPN WIP tubes, and a generous supply of Woodbeams. Mom and Roland delighted me with both the slow and super slow whorls and another bobbin for my wheel.
after presents, i showed Mom the finished Comfort Shawl. she asked whether i might consider giving it to a member of her choir who has developed Lou Gehrig's disease and has great difficulty pulling sweaters on. it seemed a perfect idea so the Comfort Shawl is now on his way to a new home.
Kelly and Bill called from Ireland, where they are enjoying a wonderful holiday with Joanie Baloney, who is still going strong. it was wonderful to talk to them and hear all about Joanie. we have never met her, but she remains like family we have always known.
finally, we wrapped up our magical night with A Child's Christmas in Wales and Elf. [we were going to watch Amahl but the DVD player was acting out. if Christmas is here next year, we will have another plan in place!] it was a wonderful day, full of love and joy and the magic of the miracle.
so from our family to yours, here is hoping you had a magical Christmas and wishing you a Joyous New Year!