Dec 272014
 

One of the best lessons I learned when I took my first tentative steps into adulthood was that I didn’t have to go home for holidays anymore. I could say ‘no,’ and just not go home.

I know it’s not as easy as all that — it isn’t. It’s difficult every single year. But it’s also easier than the alternative.

With few exceptions, I don’t go to my childhood home for the holidays. It’s not my home anymore — this is my home. The family I grew up with will always be my family, but I have a new family, too — it’s made of odds and ends, mismatched pieces, partial families, reassembled families, couples, loners, friends, loved ones, brothers, sisters, acquaintances, plus ones, strangers, kids, step kids, and sometimes dogs. My family of choice isn’t fixed or constant, but I love them every year (no matter who they are).

I’m fortunate to have the space and the means to host on family-centric holidays, and although it’s a fuck ton of work, it’s a lot of fun to make your own holidays. There are no critical parents, no sniping siblings, no racist aunts or uncles, no homophobic cousins, and no liberal-hating grandparents. There is no bad food, no one watching how many drinks or how many slices of pie you have, no one telling stories we’ve heard a million times, and when we all have a bit too much to drink, we argue politics… but since we’re all pretty much on the same “side,” the other side always loses. :)

This year’s highlights:

potato pierogi in the pan
I made my grandmother’s recipe potato pierogies — at least a hundred of them. When she was a little girl, her grandmother used to make dozens and dozens of them in the days leading up to Christmas. In one of them — just one — she would put dried figs. Whoever got the pierogi with dried figs had to do the dishes. This year, I saved some dough and we came up with more modern “ringer” dumplings — we made one with vanilla wafers, one with raisins, one with jellied fruit snacks, and one with dill pickles. They were disgusting, but they got a laugh whenever someone cut into one.

 

prime rib roast, or roast beast
I made a killer roast beast… er… a prime rib roast. I got a ten pounder this year (it pays to know your butcher by name and gift him well around the holidays). I wish I had taken a picture of it… it was perfectly medium rare (thanks to my small army of meat thermometers of every type, variety, and style).

 

sriracha awesomeness
I was gifted a Sriracha bag full of wonderful, awful stuff. :) Yes, that is Sriracha vodka. No, I didn’t drink it, and no, I don’t think I’m going to. I love Sriracha, and I love vodka, but I think I’ll keep those two loves separate.

 

flip-cup
We played a kid-friendly version of beirut (aka ‘flip cup’ or ‘beer pong’, depending on where you’re from…. I just happen to have a regulation beirut/beer pong table). We split the kids into two teams, and instead of putting beer in the cups, we put a couple of gelt pieces (gold foil covered chocolate coins) at the bottom of each cup. Each team lobbed (or bounced) ping pong balls into the cups, and collected the other teams gelt. At the end (they played until all the cups were claimed), each team split their gelt between the players on their team, which meant that although one team ‘won,’ all the kids got the exact same number of chocolates — the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers.’

 

All in all, it was a mismatched, misfit, random sort of Christmas… and it was lovely.

I hope your Christmas was equally merry. :)

 

  8 Responses to “mismatched, misfit, and merry”

  1. Wouldn’t siracha vodka work for Bloody Marys or Bloody Ceasars, or some other drink that’s supposed to be spicy?

    Sounds like a fun gathering; were there penalties for those who got the pickle perogy?

    F

    • Wouldn’t siracha vodka work for Bloody Marys or Bloody Ceasars, or some other drink that’s supposed to be spicy?

      I think so, but I’m not sure I’d use this particular vodka. I was told it was purchased on the “clearance shelf.” I’m not exactly picky about the quality of my clear liquors, but I’m not sure I’m adventurous enough to actually try this one. :) I’d rather add the Sriracha to my Bloody Marys by hand.

      Also… Bloody Caesar? I hadn’t heard of that… so I looked it up… Clamato… no can do. Clamato is one of my six sworn enemies in this life… :)

      Sounds like a fun gathering; were there penalties for those who got the pickle perogy?

      None, besides the fact they had to at least taste it. :) A dishwasher kinda makes the whole “dish washing” tradition moot. Sad… perhaps next year, I’ll make the lucky pickle recipient polish the silver. :)

  2. a girlfriend and I — drunk around a backyard fire, both alone because our kids unexpectedly decided to stay with their fathers overnight — decided we would do something with our “chosen” family next year for Christmas. (Her holiday was particularly brutal. For me it was Thanksgiving.) I’m almost 40 — and live 10 mins from my parents — and for the last 8 years haven’t had a holiday to call my own. It was different when I only saw them once a year and immeasurably more enjoyable.

    • decided we would do something with our “chosen” family next year for Christmas. (Her holiday was particularly brutal. For me it was Thanksgiving.

      Oh… I’m so sorry to hear it, Hy. But it’s great to hear that you and your friend are already making plans for your own holidays next year. :)

      And yes, sometimes living far away from parents can be a blessing. Sometimes I miss them, but it’s nice to have the opportunity to miss them.

  3. Gelt and beer pong! Two of my favorite things! What a wonderful and eclectic holiday!

    DC

  4. Love these ideas, and it sounds so lovely. I need to work on making my own Christmas memories instead of becoming sad at loss of old traditions.

    • I need to work on making my own Christmas memories instead of becoming sad at loss of old traditions.

      Yes! Traditions are just as meaningful — if not more — if you make them yourself. :) (No hand-me-down traditions for me! Okay… maybe just one or two…)

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