Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Christmas

We've made it through our first New England Christmas and are still alive. I realized a funny thing about Christmas this year...when you strip it down, it is just another day. It could be yesterday, today, or tomorrow. It's not about being the 25th of December. Instead, Christmas is about what you do on that day to make it special. Hopefully, your holiday was spent with the ones you love. The presents are just an added bonus.

This year, we decided to stay in Boston for my first Christmas away from my parents. I honestly didn't think it was going to be as difficult as it was. The week before, I began to dread even the thought of the holiday. We had no tree, no parents, no presents, no lights, no decorations, no money, and no time to really do anything. It was definitely not shaping up to be my favorite holiday of the year.

However, after many tears, I decided to fight back. I went to Trader Joe's to find myself a Charlie Brown tree and instead received a free wreath. Nothing in LA is ever free. I think someone was reminding me of the Boston spirit. As I walked around the store, free gift in hand, I began to find the Christmas spirit. It isn't about receiving, but rather giving this time of year. I realized I had missed the hustle & bustle of Christmas shopping. There is a definite rush of being with the crowds and seeing all of the Christmas decor. I must say I got caught up a bit, bought some champagne & yummy treats, and headed home to hang my wreath.

Christmas day, if you forget about the Christmas part, turned out to be a great day. Had this been any other Saturday, I would even say it was a great day. If I'm allowed to complain, I would say there was just something missing from it all. I think it was being around the family, and yes, opening presents. That sense of unity and love and warmth the day usually holds.

As difficult as it was, I am happy we made the choice to tough it out. We found out what it is like to spend a holiday together, with friends. And in the future, there are some traditions we created this year, that I would like to keep- like the Christmas Eve White Castle burgers and Christmas afternoon nap. And the peace. There wasn't the usual arguing or fighting that comes along with my family holidays. Instead we spent the morning with a great friend eating breakfast and drinking champagne. We went to the Commons to walk in the snow and see the Christmas tree. And we finished the night at a Cuban feast among friends.

Like I said, a really great day. The only thing that made it better was the snowy walk home. We had our first white Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Julia Child

I am jumping on the Julia Child bandwagon. I am fully aware how trendy this is at the moment and would normally be completed turned off. However, after spending the past 3 weeks reading "My Life in France", I have completely fallen in love with her. First, I must point out that on average lately I've been going through about a book a week. So, for her one book to take me three weeks, definitely speaks volumes. I did not want to let her go. I felt like I made a little Julia Child friend that fit inside my bag and went wherever I went. If I needed to hear her voice on the T, I would simply pull out the book and start where I had left off. Her adventures through France, Norway, Germany, and Boston were so well depicted. Her voice came through as if she were sitting next to me telling me the stories herself.

I found the book so inspiring and discouraging at the same time. To start, this woman made some of the most incredible meals ever known to man. And she seemed to do them with ease. She never expressed sincere fear in putting together a great feast. Instead, she buckled down and spent days working with the finest products in France. I, on the otherhand, am frightened to cook for anyone other than Mario. Julia says you should never say sorry. If something doesn't work out, it is what it is. You just do your best to fix the problem, accept it this once, and don't make the same mistake again. That is much simplier said than done. However, I am trying to take this attitude lately, and find it somewhat soothing.

She is so passionate though about her work. Julia spent years putting together a single cookbook-- testing and retesting each of the recipes until each was perfect. I am disappointed to say I do not have this drive. I really enjoy cooking. However, lately it has become more of a hassle than a pleasure. I miss the immediate satisfaction of going out to eat and having the food prepared for you. Lately, I do not enjoy trying to figure out what to make each evening or what to make of the items in our fridge. Granted, Julia had nothing else to do. She had the government's money, freetime while her husband worked, and no television. I suppose if put into those circumstances I too could become excited about cooking again. Plus, it didn't hurt that she was in France among some of the best produce available.

All in all, I would say this is one of the best books I have read. If I owned it, instead of rented from the library, it would be tucked away among the greats like "Eat, Prey, Love" and "The Alchemist". I really urge you to read it, but be sure to give yourself enough time to get through the whole book. I am sure you will savor each page as I did and never want it to end.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It is funny about family. In my life, there are so many people I am related to by blood that I wish I didn't know and so many people I'm not related to that feel like family. It is funny how that works out. For Thanksgiving, two of my "family" drove up to spend the holiday with us. I have known Sarah & Lari now for about 7 years and seeing them was exactly what I needed. We spent the whole day talking and laughing and talking and laughing some more. It felt so good to be with people that knew who I am and don't need explanation of my every thought and movement. Instead, we understand each other without saying a thing. It was exactly what I needed.

On that same note, my parents came out about a month ago. I have put off writing about their trip because, as good as it was, it only made me ache for them more. It is not that I had forgotten anything about them. It just made me miss them even more to have them close. Its like eating chocolate after years of dieting. It only makes you want it more. Or something like that.

We had an amazing time (that's for you Jim) walking around Boston and seeing all of the sites. I must say the highlight of the trip was being at the Cheers bar with them, having drinks and laughing. I don't even remember what we were talking about. I just remember feeling at home with both of them by my side.

At first, I was afraid for my parents to see how modest our life has become. I didn't want them to worry. But then I realized, it really is what it is. And at the end of the day, we are not hurting or wanting for anything major. We simply aren't as extravagant as we once were. If anything, I'm sure this pleased them more than caused worry.

With the holidays upon us, I'm beginning to realize how hard it is going to be without my parents. This will be my first Christmas without them. Can you believe that??? I'm 29 years old, and only now experiencing my first Christmas without my parents. I guess that makes me pretty pathetic. Either way, I'm going to miss them terribly.

For as long as I can remember, I woke up every Christmas morning VERY early, grabbed all of our stockings, and climbed into my parents' bed. We would open everything together, one at a time. These are my best memories of the holiday. For, after we got out of bed, all of the drama would ensue, and the day would lose all meaning. But for that hour of the 3 of us in bed, it was wondeful. That is what I am going to miss.

In honor of them, I'm attaching photos of my parents' trip. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.