So it turns out that if you want your kitchen to smell good on the day after Christmas, when you're just having leftovers, the key is to make another batch of stuffing. Onions and melted butter seem to provide just the right aroma...
I was so pleased with the way Christmas dinner turned out yesterday. We were given a big turkey this year, one that weighed about thirteen pounds. We're not huge meat eaters and most recent years, when we've been home and cooking on the holidays at all, we've simply done a small turkey breast in the crockpot. So it had been a long (very long!) time since I'd cooked a bird this big, and I was worried that I'd goof it up.
I had visions in my head of a rather disastrous cooking experience we had just a few years into our marriage. We attempted a biggish turkey then too (how hard could it be? I thought with the confidence of youth) and apparently did not thaw it enough. We cooked it and cooked it and cooked it...and it just wouldn't finish. Parts of it stayed pretty cold and parts started to brown too much and and...well...it wasn't all that appetizing.
So this year, when I delivered a moist, juicy, perfectly cooked turkey to my husband for carving, I grinned at him and said "we've come a long way, baby." It really turned out to be quite easy. I confess I looked up some tips on the internet (something I couldn't do all those years ago) which provided a handy guide. I taught the sweet girl how to baste, and she enjoyed it so much we probably did it a little more than we needed to, which if anything made it even tastier. I kept things simple and just used butter and some freeze-dried poultry spices on the skin, and I added a couple of cups of our favorite veggie broth to the roasting pan. Yummy -- and lots of leftovers. I think I need to find some good turkey leftover recipes!
We had a lovely, quiet day. We're still not quite used to Christmas Day with just the three of us and no travel. I think it's hardest on D, who is used to seeing his family that day and to lots of hustle and bustle on Christmas in general. But the beginning of new traditions can also be enjoyable, and having a quiet day yesterday seemed to suit us all pretty well, especially at the end of a busy, tiring year.
We also seemed to strike a good balance with presents this year. The sweet girl got a few "oh, I really wanted this!" type of gifts, but also some sweet surprises, and D and I, though we don't get one another much, always do a good job of knowing something that will make the other's day. The sweet girl also has some traditions of picking out some small things for us which are very cute because they don't vary much -- she loves to get us each a new mug, and often some candy, and she and her Daddy go together to pick out a small, inexpensive piece of department store jewelry for me (usually something from the 1928 collection, which I love).
D. did most of the wrapping this year, while I was doing other things, so one of the funniest moments came when the sweet girl opened a book I didn't know she was getting. I was confused because it was a book I'd picked up on clearance a couple of months ago and stashed away for family read-aloud. I hadn't intended to give it as a gift. I thought he must have picked up another copy as a gift for her. Later I mentioned that and he said, "um, no...you gave it to me with the other stuff to wrap." So it *was* the copy I bought, though how it got in with the Christmas presents, I have no idea! Oh well! One can never go wrong with a book as a gift!
Speaking of book gifts, the sweet girl was thrilled out of her socks to get her very own copies of her two favorite books this year -- the ones she has checked out over and over from the library, and read over and over -- The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall, and the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time, adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson. She also got a new Calvin and Hobbes.
D. gave me a copy of P.D. James' Talking About Detective Fiction, another cute thing because he had no idea that I'd read it already, but assumed I would love it. I did love it, back when I read it, and am very happy to own a copy. Book-wise, I gave D. a copy of Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. We've seen the movie but neither of us has read the book. He's been so into sailing ships, pirates, and all things related to the high seas of late that it seemed like a good pick.
While cooking most of yesterday afternoon, I listened to Emmy Lou Harris' Christmas album and got in some good reading time...nearly finished the new Leonard Marcus biography of Madeleine L'Engle (not a Christmas present, just picked up from the library hold shelf). I am finding this an intriguing read and will likely blog more about it soon.
I missed my family, as always, but had a wonderful talk with my parents by phone. They were sharing their 60th Christmas together! My family is celebrating so much this year...the birth of three new babies in the next generation (I have two new great nieces and another great nephew this year), a marriage (which also includes a new stepchild for that niece), and the news of two more babies on the way in 2013. My parents can hardly believe they now have fourteen great-grandchildren with two more on the way.
So many blessings to count this Christmas, and the biggest blessing of all is the precious gift of Jesus. So thankful for the celebration of his birth, and so thankful for his continued presence in our lives each and every day.