Ten Things – What Christmas Means to Me.


1. Family. This year, like many years of late, we get the extra bonus of having my sweet niece (aka daughter, best friend, sister) here with us. Then on top of that,  we get to see some of my cousins and their families in the mountains for a few days after Christmas which is an extra special family treat. We also miss our family who we don’t get to see on Christmas but who we keep near to us, in our hearts.

2. Food.  In particular, a much more expensive slab of meat that I usually buy which traumatizes me because This Bitch Can’t Cook and I don’t want to ruin it.  Plus, lots of other wonderful food like buttery mashed potatoes and pie.

3. Tradition. My family tradition Christmas cookies and the old tin cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s which I use to make them.  I always think of my mom having the dough ready for me after school to help her press out the cookies when I got home.   I would help her make green and pinkish red buttery frosting and we would carefully frost each one and add multicolor sprinkles.  Every bite brings back those memories tenfold.  I can’t remember a year when she didn’t make them for us or when we didn’t’ make them for her.

4. Meaningful Moments.  A Christmas tree so pretty each year that I can’t stop staring at it  — with multicolored lights and each branch covered in sentimental ornaments.  Nothing about it matches which makes every glance meaningful.

5. Festivities. Fun and new cocktails that my niece makes for us – usually cranberries involved — with a jazzy Christmas song playing in the background.

6.Memories. Sleeping in my sister’s bed on Christmas Eve when I was little (this was a treat as she only let me do this on certain holidays).  I swear I can feel her green checked bedspread at my fingers now and picture and smell the antique furniture that surrounded her bed.  And hear myself asking her if it was time yet to go downstairs.

7. More Memories. My Grandma sitting in our green and white wing back chair with her slippers on in our fancy room watching my sister and I open gifts with an occasional giggle, especially when we opened whatever Madame Alexander doll she had given us that year.  She had a smile and giggle that were perfection.

8. Music.  Especially our Charlie Brown Christmas album that my husband has played every Christmas morning since we’ve been married for the last 21 years.  This, with a hot cup of coffee and crumpling wrapping paper noise — more perfection.

9.  Joy. Exemplified by our dog Tony completely freaking out when he hears us opening gift bags and rattling tissue paper on Christmas morning because he thinks every bag has a new toy or bone for him (this dog has a good memory).  Monkey dog follows suit.

10. A tradition of Counter-Tradition.  Staying in our pajamas well past noon on Christmas. Going to the local Chinese restaurant down the street on Christmas night (we do our big home meal on Christmas eve).  Being the only Christmas- celebrating folk there makes us feel ‘edgy,’ as my niece would call it.  Always reminds me of the Christmas Story movie (You’ll poke your eye out) and the restaurant scene with the singing and the duck (Chinese Turkey) – CLASSIC – you have to click and watch this scene.

What does Christmas mean to you?  

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays….

I’m really not sure any b… can cook. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42


I was given the “Any Bitch Can Cook” Cookbook as a gift.  It’s a great cookbook with lots of basic cooking info and good standby recipes that are easy to make from everyday ingredients.  It’s made for people like me who are a little intimidated by cooking and frankly a little mystified by the appeal of performing planned, time consuming cooking feats for consumption.

The book is one in a full line of “bitch” books…” Any Bitch Can Party,” “Any Bitch Can Lose It,” “Any Bitch Can Drink,” “Slow Simmering Bitch,” etc.  The word ‘Bitch’ in these books stands for ‘Babe In Total Control of Herself.’  The books are great for people like me who are always seeking to amaze people with what great meals I can prepare with the least effort possible.

I think my dad and stepmom secretly hope that someday something is going to click in my head and I am going to enjoy cooking and going to an extreme amount of work shopping for and preparing a meal. They give me wonderful baking dishes, pans, tools and recipes that make a world of difference and make everything taste better.

And my wonderful stepmom teaches me cooking tips every time I am around her.  I am truly grateful for this, but I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be able to naturally convert.  It’s like I’m missing the gene.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to prepare meals that my family enjoys. And I certainly love to go out for great food and can appreciate fine cuisine. But luckily I married a guy who is more than satisfied with having a night or two during the week when we do pizza or sandwiches, and the rest filled with standby casseroles, spaghetti and Costco cuisine.

He knew what he was getting into when he married me.  That I really wasn’t into the cooking scene and most likely wasn’t ever going to be with my whole heart.  And he knew that I was a far cry from being able to master the more gender stereotypical domestic pursuits.  And that I was probably the most highly functioning ADD type personality he’d ever met.  I think he wanted the challenge.

I’m happy to do the dishes and let someone else cook.  Someone who is much more particular about how it is done.  It seems a tad futile to put that much work into something that will be overwith in 30 minutes to an hour.  Clearly I don’t get it.  Again, I appreciate it in others, but I don’t get it.

Is this nature or nurture?  My mom was not a great cook.  She mastered standards like porkchops and rice a la chicken and rice Campbell’s soup and other such varieties that I remember eating in our harvest gold kitchen. But something about her beef stroganoff has stuck with me and the smell of that dish to this day does not bring back good memories.

So it could be nurture.  Or quite possibly it could have been nature for my mother and subsequently nature for me?  Just not in the DNA.  Something to think about.

At any rate, I am truly grateful that I have many great cooks in my life who love to cook wonderful meals for my family.  And also that my family loves my simplified standby variety of meals that I make while typing a blog, finishing a work project and working on a last minute painting idea.

And frankly, I’m grateful that we have food to put on the table.