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'TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS
25 December 2006
Oh, I do admire those folks who wake up on the morning of Christmas Eve and are able to lounge about the Christmas tree sipping their egg nog, listening to Christmas music, and thinking of whatever they will do that night and what they'll wear Christmas day.
I woke up Christmas Eve at 3 a.m. to 3 hungry puppies. I got them fed, their cage changed, and the puppies (and dogs) back to sleep and tried to get to sleep myself, which I finally did sometime after 4:30 or so.
At some point Lizzie decided I needed to get up NOW and she landed in my lap a few times. I tried to ignore her, but the puppies started crying again, so I opened one eye, astonished to see that it was light out, and was 7 a.m. Yikes! I'd slept too late.
Got the puppies fed, broke up a fight between Sheila and Lizzie, when Sheila decided to steal Lizzie's food, made coffee, finished the last of the cranberry bread I'd made for Jeri and Phil and planned how I was going to fit everything into the rest of my day.
I had to shop for food for Christmas, decide what I was going to bring to Christmas Eve dinner, MAKE what I was bringing to Christmas Eve dinner, clear away all the crap in the living room, find the kitchen counter again, remove a year's worth of dust from the living room, and run back and forth to the community meals, which was serving food for anybody in Davis who needed to meal this season. I was the official photographer.
At least the tree was decorated. Phil and Jeri flew in from Boston on Friday evening and Saturday morning, with the perennial Bing Crosby accompaniment, we finally got the tree up. It's a Charlie Brown tree, with a bare top (hung with the big ornaments) and a full bottom (like me!).
I was concerned about how Lizzie was going to be with a tree in the house, so Walt and Phil put our ugly folding door back across the door to the living room, which will keep her out of there until she can be supervised.
Phil and Lizzie really hit it off.
Around 10, I set off to take pictures of the group cooking the community meal and then to go to Nugget Market to pick up the rest of what I needed for Christmas dinner, and the ingredients for the cranberry upside down cake I had decided to bring to Christmas eve dinner with Marta's family.
It was a small, but sincere crew hard at work cutting up carrots, cooking cauliflower, slicing ham, and baking chicken pieces when I arrived.
I took some photos and then headed off to the market to pick up the few things I had to get.
It was impossible to find a parking place in the Nugget market parking lot. I was in a queue of at least 10 cars driving around waiting for someone to leave. I finally decided to go to Albertson's instead, where parking was plentiful. I understand now why.
I couldn't remember exactly what I needed but knew that I had decided to make baked asparagus (my food discovery this year) to go with the Christmas turkey, so I need asparagus; I also needed fresh cranberries for the upside down cake. And then there was the "fill-in" stuff — munchies and that sort of thing for tomorrow. I no longer worry about getting things for cocktails or wine because of how many of us no longer drink alcohol.
I picked up the current jelly I needed for the upside down cake and headed over to the product department for cranberries and asparagus.
I checked everywhere in the produce department and there was no asparagus at all. I had just seen great asparagus at Nugget two days before, but Albertsons had none. I remembered that I had lots of little carrots at home and decided to make something with carrots. I bought potatoes, and salad fixings and gradually moved toward the fruit section, where I would get the cranberries. Only there were no bags of whole cranberries to be seen..
I asked a clerk, who said they had run out days before. Okay. Now I had to regroup. What was I going to fix? I also had forgotten to bring my cell phone, so I couldn't call home to check to see whether we had ingredients. I finally decided to make a couple of pecan pies, so I went to get pecans. On the back of the pecan bag was a recipe for a pecan tart, which sounded kind of cool. You melt butter and caramels and add the pecans and put that in one layer in the bottom of a baked pie shell, then you top it with a glaze of semisweet chocolate pieces mixed with whipping cream. Our hostess had asked me to bring "one of your spectacular desserts" and I thought that would be something different, if not exactly "spectacular."
I picked up whipping cream and semi-sweet chocolate and went to the candy aisle to get caramels, and they had no caramels. None. So I was back to square one, deciding again what to make. I finally decided to go with the original plan of making a pecan pie but I couldn't remember if I had corn syrup at home, and didn't know how many eggs it took. I just guessed and bought the ingredients I thought I would need. But by this time I was almost in tears.
When I came home, I unloaded the pecans and the corn syrup I didn't need (as it turned out), and I unloaded the jelly for the cake I wasn't making and the chocolate and whipping cream for the tart I wasn't making. I also unloaded a pound of cream cheese for the cheesecake I decided I didn't have time to make.
But the pies got made and the puppies got fed (again) and I had a few hours to go back to the community meals and take more photos before time to go off to dinner with the family.
As always the community meals was a wonder. Last year they fed 800 people and this year it must have been more because the line seemed to stretch outside the building for a very long time.
When people finally got inside the building there were two long tables with volunteers from the community to serve the mostly vegan dinner (if you don't count the chicke and ham!)
At one point I looked around the huge room and it seemed that it was about 90 percent full, with more stretching out the door.
There were several volunteer music groups to keep the guests entertained throughout the evening.
I left at quarter to 6 and got home in time to feed the puppies before we headed off to Marta's parents' house, where we joined her family for the annual taco dinner,
following which there was music on those damn kazoos, but with the addition of a friend who brought her harp (which intrigued the grandchildren), and Jeri on the piano.
(Incidentally, my pecan pie was a great hit and, unbeknownst to me beforehand, a favorite of our host, so all the previous trauma didn't seem so bad).
We left around 9:30, drove out to the cemetery with the others and wished Paul and Dave a merry Christmas (all the while freezing!), and were home in time to feed the puppies for what I sincerely hope is the last time until about 6 a.m.
I am writing this at 11 p.m. Christmas Eve night and have decided to put off making pumpkin pies until morning because I just can't keep my eyes open any more (but at least I was able to prop myself up against the computer monitor and bat out a journal entry!)
Featured Holidailies Entry: Take Joy by Music and Cats.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2461