Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas, dear friends. I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or not.

I celebrate with a lit tree, sharing food and gifts with my family, a fire, and a hot cup of chai. Usually we light the menorah around this time, but Hanukkah was early this year, so the menorah is already put away.

My holiday is more pagan than Christian, more culture than religion, more honoring family history than acting on personal belief. But it’s my own personal celebration of winter.


Although I’m not religious, I find myself inspired every year by the love, compassion, kindness and spirit of the people around me in December. Christmas is a time of caring, sharing and warmth.

I used to enjoy going to midnight mass with my mom as a kid. I loved the specialness of it, the camaraderie of the people worshiping together, the silent spirituality throughout the church. The smell of the incense, the bells, the songs, the chanting prayers. I haven’t been to a midnight mass in years. Now it feels awkward to go, to enjoy the experience of it as an outsider, watching others practice their beliefs in the most holy times. I enjoy it as an observer, but there’s another level – it’s also about letting myself get a little swept up in it. Although I am not a believer, your belief inspires me.

My spiritual beliefs and feelings about organized religion aside, the Christmas spirit always finds me, envelopes me, enchants me. People are more giving, more considerate of others. They are reminded about serving others, about sacrificing for those who need it.

I’ve been singing to my Pie to get her to fall asleep. I was trying to sing her some holiday music, but the holiday songs I like are more upbeat, or are well out of my range. In an attempt to find something I could sing quietly to her I found myself singing this, over and over. For the past few days. Today I realized that it was kind of funny that this is the Christmas song she would associate with her first Christmas, could she make an association.

I am preparing to head over to my family’s home tonight to celebrate with my parents, siblings and niece. I’m making a cheesecake with sugared blackberries and almond whipped cream.

Here’s the almond whipped cream.DSC_0719 

And instead of graham crackers I’m using these yummy butter biscuits.DSC_0715 

I forgot to take a picture of the pretty golden crust before I poured the topping on, but here it is, ready to cool and set. DSC_0741

And I have a delicious lemon-almond-blackberry topping.DSC_0733

And I’m prepping for tomorrow’s meal of matzoh ball soup, latkes with sour cream, roasted beet salad and a brisket. Here’s the matzoh. The secret to matzoh balls is to make them a little thinner than the directions on the back of the container, and to let the mix sit in the fridge overnight. I know the package of matzoh meal says 15 minutes, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.DSC_0732

I can’t wait to eat. I think I’ve said that here before…

Happy holidays everyone, thank you for reading, thank you for being my friends, thank you for making 2010 such a wonderful year. I love you.

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