We’d already enjoyed a fun date night on Christmas Eve. And after spending the morning in my kitchen making decadent sticky buns while John and Cholula romped in the Christmas snow, it was time to get our HOLIDAY ON.
With a completely appropriate morning beverage selection of eggnog, coffee, and champagne, we dove into overstuffed stockings. Cholula sniffed her stocking out immediately, ripped off her snowman’s nose, and munched peanut butter cookie treats while we sat cross-legged in front of the fire, giggling with each new little novelty or thoughtful trinket.
A tradition in John’s family is caviar on Christmas. I bravely scooped the goods onto a cracker with chopped onion and lemon, clinking wedding champagne flutes and toasting his late mama. (Later, Cholula would help herself to the caviar. She’s very classy.)
It was time to head over to the tree.
Santa was apparently listening to my not-so-subtle wishes and whisperings. New snow pants, reference books for my warm-weather jaunts outside, sweet and thoughtful gifts and a surprise from Apple kept me smiling (along with the champagne). Boxes from afar contained handmade keepsakes and cool projects for the both of us. Oh, and John had some surprises of his own (Santa and I are totally BFFs).
After our happy gift-wrapped morning, we headed out into the Christmas sunshine. It had been snowing every day, so the kiss from the sun felt like a gift. Everyday is a holiday for Cholula if there’s a snow walk involved. Dogs are so awesome.
We had big plans for a fancy dinner at home later, but we had forgotten to think about lunch. On a whim, we headed to one of our favorite spots in the ‘hood. They were open! Who says you can’t have yellow curry or Korean street tacos on Christmas? Full of multiple beverages and a big lunch, we snuggled in on the couch back home and enjoyed a holiday snooze.
For John’s birthday dinner, he had requested a meal from his childhood: lamb, mashed potatoes, something he called “smooshed beans,” and popovers. He’d ordered some local lamb earlier in the week, and got to work on a Dijon-rosemary-cornmeal crust while I dove into the other dishes.
For our wedding, my grandpa sent me all of my grandmother’s china. I remember using these plates on Christmas Eve, and it was the perfect time to use them in our new home. As I set the table, I thought of my fabulous grandmother, glamorous and loving, burning the dinner rolls at every single holiday dinner in memory. I wondered if she’d be proud of me, just as I do every day.
It turns out that smooshed beans are just frozen green beans cooked with lots of butter and salt- a taste of my childhood, too! I made an arugula salad with dried cranberries, red onion, feta cheese and chopped pecans, and stirred some garlic and chive into our taters. My popovers didn’t really pop over, but they were baked and tasty. John sliced the lamb and we sat down to a gorgeous and positively delicious Christmas-birthday feast, in our jammies, just the two of us.
Jazz music in the background, we lingered at the dimly lit dining room table for a long time, talking softly about our year and the year to come. Turning 40 is a milestone. I’m so proud of John and the man that he’s grown into over the years. I’m lucky to have been sitting next to him on his birthday, clinking wine glasses as his wife. What a life.
I presented John with his homemade birthday cake. Not to be neglected, Cholula sniped a lamb leg while we were clearing dishes and then half of my slice of cake when my back was turned. Filled with butter and goodness, I couldn’t blame her. She deserved a Merry Christmas, too. We watched Papa blow out his candles, one for each decade and one for good luck.
It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.
I hope John’s birthday wishes come true.