The Four Days Of Christmas

Here it is Monday, January 2, 2023, another holiday and I have not yet shared with you our Four Days of Christmas.

First things first.

Because the usual federal holiday of New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday, some Americans get the following day, 2 January, as holiday. It wouldn’t make sense to give government workers a day off on a Sunday when few would be working anyway. Generally, institutions like schools, banks, businesses and the US stock market are closed for federal holidays.

Supermarkets and grocery stores are, however, open–as many were on New Year’s Day. Department stores and malls are open–stores filled with merchandise from China and half-empty malls filled with closed stores, massage chairs and eyebrow threading kiosks.

Back to The Four Days of Christmas.

Friday, December 23. The First Day of Christmas. A Christmas family celebration at my ex-wife’s house. She and her husband have been hosting a family get-together for a number of years. In attendance: Betsy and her husband, John; Besty’s sister, Jane; our daughter, Danielle and her husband, Mike and their children, Emily and Matthew; our son, Daryl and his girlfriend, Julia, now his fiancé, home from Colorado for one week; Julia’s parents, Kim and Joe; and me and Susan. Betsy made a Pork Roast. Susan made Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers, and a Blue Cheese Spread. I made a Pasta and Roasted Pepper dish.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Here are a few photos (Clicking on the photos makes them larger.) from this First Day of Christmas (Yes, it snowed.):

Pictured above left to right: Danielle holding a Christmas gift from Susan and I (a soccer mom car ornament); Danielle and Mike; Daryl and Julia; Daryl, Julia, Emily; Emily and Julia; Kim, Susan, Mike; Matthew holding a Christmas gift from Susan and me (a baseball glove ornament); Matthew; my Christmas pasta; star of wonder.

Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve. The Second Day of Christmas. A Christmas family tradition from Susan’s family. For years it was hosted at her mom’s home but as she aged Susan took it over years ago and people came to our home. For years we had a few dozen people over; aunts and uncles and the children but as people have passed on, children getting older, covid, less people have come over. Infact, we were not going to have the celebration this year but Daryl pleaded with us to continue the celebration. And we did.

I made two appetizers: Bang Bang Shrimp and Beef Tenderloin and Blue Cheese Crostini (Susan made the bread); a gift from Daryl, a Billy Cobham album; my famous fruitcake; Julie and Daryl looking at a gift from Susan and me, a picture book of their trip to Italy, where they got engaged; a gift from Daryl, Kacey Musgraves new album; our manger; Susan, me and Freddy; our wine; a Christmas Cake Susan made.

Sunday, December 25. Christmas. The Third Day of Christmas. This celebration was held at Danielle and Mike’s house. Many were in attendance: Mike and Danielle and Emily and Matthew, of course; Mike’s parents, Jim and Robbin, and his sister, Kim; Robbin’s mom, Nancy; Betsy and John; my brother Dennis and his wife, Debbie; Daryl and Julia. It was a wonderful day–great food and company. The pictures say much (I think my favorite is Dennis tuning Emily’s guitar.)

A ballet shoes ornament, a gift Susan and I gave to Emily; Susan made sourdough bread; Danielle’s soccer mom ornament; a beautiful table set and Christmas tree; Debbie and Dennis looking at Daryl and Julia’s Italy picture book; Dennis tuning Emily’s guitar; a doctor’s ornament, a gift from Susan and me; Emily playing the guitar; Matthew’s baseball glove ornament; Susan and Danielle.

Tuesday, December 27. The Fourth Day of Christmas. Daryl and Julia before they head home to Colorado have always come back over to our house from a special dinner. I made Chicken Piccata and Susan made a Cherry Christmas Cake. A few photographs of our time together and our home:

Chicken Piccata; a Christmas tree in the corner of our kitchen; Daryl and Julia; Christmas ornaments and a book of photos from the past year which I gave to Susan; Freddy; cookbooks with Christmas decorations; Daryl and Julia and Freddy; Julia and Freddy; Christmas village; gifts from Susan–two great books (The Sermon on The Mount by Emmet Fox, essays and Pray a Word a Day–so happy to receive these!); Christmas cards; Susan, Julia, Freddy, Daryl; Christmas decorations; a small Christmas tree in our sitting room; wine; Christmas Cherry Cake.

Peace. Love. Light. And Laughter be with You!

Christmas Day 2021

Woke to light snow covering the ground and trees. Snow enough to warm our hearts and delight the children.

Before heading to our daughter’s home, Susan and I took our Rapid Covid tests; both negative. Everyone attending the Christmas dinner took a rapid covid test. Sign of the times.

As soon as we arrived at the party, our granddaughter ran out of her house, a new camera in hand, and exclaimed, “Pops! Santa gave me a camera!” Here she is camera in hand:

Here are a few other photos from the day:

Christmas Eve 2021

A blessing it was to host our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party a few short weeks ago. Last year we were unable to have our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party because of Covid.

Here is our menu:

Here are photos from the party (Click on photo to enlarge.):

Left to right: apple cranberry crisp by Susan; jalapeno corn muffins by Susan; Daryl looking at 2022 calendar of Rocky Mountain National Park photos by me; Julia and Daryl; Kate, Lauren and Owen opening presents; kielbasa; Lauren; Lauren and Owen looking at book of NYC photos by me; Owen and Lauren; Picadillo; sweet and spicy nut and pretzel mix; shrimp cocktail; Susan holding present from Julia and Daryl; new vinyl from Daryl.

A blessing and joy it was to get-together.

Pistachio Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Very easy to make. I might consider using regular flour next time. Or almond flour. I used whole wheat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup whole spelt (or whole wheat) flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios for garnish

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, whip the butter, sugar, cardamom, and ground pistachios together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the flour and mix until a uniform dough is obtained.
  3. With floured hands, roll into balls about an inch in diameter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, 3 inches apart.
  4. With your thumb, make an indentation in each ball and fill with chopped pistachios.
  5. Refrigerate the cookie sheet with the cookies on it for about 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 F. (NOTE: I baked for 20 minutes.) Allow the cookies to cool on the pan before removing.

Based on a recipe from Kitchen Vignettes.

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Dried-Fruit Fruitcake

I am not joking. Oh, I know, people always joke about The Fruitcake. I have made this every Christmas for the past three years and it is absolutely delicious! Trust me. You’ll love its sweet taste!

Chocolate Chipotle Christmas Cookies

I am busy making cookies for Christmas.

These are so delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoons dried chipotle pepper, ground (can substitute one-eighth teaspoon cayenne or smoked paprika)
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar crystals, (or granulated sugar)
  • parchment paper

Directions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Step 2

Cut out parchment to exactly fit the baking sheet.

Step 3

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, black pepper and chipotle pepper.

Step 4

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated (don’t over-mix).

Step 5

Shape the dough into a 12-inch log and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Put dough in freezer for 10 minutes to firm the dough. Put sugar crystals in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Roll the dough log in the sugar, pressing sugar into the dough to coat the log evenly.

Step 6

Cut the log into half-inch slices and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets until cookies are no longer soft to the touch, about 10 minutes. Let them rest on the baking sheet for about 1 minute to firm them, then transfer to a rack with a metal spatula.

Step 7

Cool completely, and serve cookies on a platter.

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