Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here and my dad has been a true loving father. He went to a chick flick with me!! :)

We went and saw "Did You Hear About the Morgans?"

I thought it was very entertaining and he was glad he didn't see any of his buddies at the theater!!

In our family, Christmas is about spending time together. We find games to play, watch movies, laugh and have a great meal together. But it wasn't always that way...

We used to have a tree surrounded with an overflowing amount of thousands of dollars worth of gifts. Present opening would start at 9:00 am just so we could be finished by mid afternoon. We were like Santa Claus to everyone we knew. The car was filled with hand-picked items from overseas that would take us a week to deliver.

BUT in 1993 our perspectives were thrown into a blender and dumped back in our faces. My mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and the Nordstrom clothes were replaced with ones from the thrift store. The shopping sprees came to a halt and the real meaning of Christmas bubbled to the surface.

What is your definition of love?

When my mom walked out the door of her 150,000/year job and we depended only on my dad, love was no longer a $300 outfit, or a membership at the country club, or thousands of dollars in Christmas gifts- It was time together!!!

Since our parents traveled all over the world for business, as kids, we knew our nanny more than our own parents but the gift of cancer changed all that. The new definition of Christmas was spending time together and laughing and creating memories we would never forget.

My favorite Christmas was when the entire family got together and the requirement was that we could spend no more than $20 each. We all piled into the van and headed for the Dollar Store. We spent over an hour slinking down each aisle picking out gifts while hiding from each other in the store. We checked out separately and double bagged the items so the others wouldn't be able to take a sneak peak.

The tree was again overflowing with gifts, but this time the room was also filled with laughter because each gift was fun and creative and didn't break the bank!! They were simply labeled "male" and "female." So nobody knew what they would get.

Then, with a small amount kept out, we would have a treasure hunt to for the rest. I would wrap and place all the gifts in unique spots around the house and property and the rest of the family had to find them.

I like to think that we now understand that love and a family bond is not created through money or expensive gifts, but rather spending time together and learning how to laugh as a family!!!

Thank you to the gift of cancer for a lesson in the meaning of life!!!

May you all create wonderful memories this year and remember to laugh together!!!! It is family that counts the most!!!

If you have time to read on, this next bit is the start to my dad and I sharing the joys of Christmas together.

As most of you know or have learned, cooking isn't my forte'. I can cook a killer bowl of top roman, cook a nice, dry chicken breast, cook a pre-made pizza, and a delicious meat loaf. Oh, and don't let me forget to add chocolate souffle' to that list!!

My dad and I are planning a fantastic turkey dinner this year as our eating experience.

There's just one challenge...

Neither one of us has ever cooked a turkey dinner, and since my mom couldn't get the time off work to come to Phoenix, we are on our own.

The experience must start at the grocery store where we walked in with a basket and a long list of items that my mom told us we needed.

This, my friends, is how you spend 2 hours shopping for only $100 of groceries.

While my dad had been to this store many times, he had never looked for anything beyond dairy, soda, the deli, and the coffee isle. It was like a treasure hunt in an unfamiliar land.

Aisle one brought us soup and canned yams. Oh, yes, we are on our way.

But the turkey aisle would bring more questions than answers.

I have never purchased a turkey before, so I had not a clue what to pick.

15 pounds? Is that big or small? Looks medium size. Hmm...

Of course, I turn to my dad and ask him. He simply looks at me, scrunches his nose and shrugs his shoulders.

OK- moving on...

Frozen or thawed? Nothing wrong with frozen right? Christmas Eve is tomorrow, I'm sure it will be de-frosted!

Now, what brand do you get? There are five different types and none of them say easy to cook on them. There's a marketing idea for the turkey companies!! It's all in the label.

How do you know when it is cooked?

Oh, lucky for us, the meat man said Butterball has a pop-up thermometer built in. Perfect! (They should put that on the label too!!)

Butterball it is!!

Now, what size do we get?

Hmm... 15 pounds feels heavy but 9 pounds sounds like a healthy but not too healthy turkey.

What do we cook this thing in?

Hey, there's a pan with handles that says turkey pan. Oooo... Let's get that.

My mom told me to get a bag for the turkey so the mission began to find one. Wouldn't you think it would be a smart idea for the store to put them next to the turkeys? Oh, no! After searching for 20 minutes those can be found on aisle 7 on the top shelf.

There's just one problem- yours truly is only 5'3" tall and the top shelf is far away. My dad was way across the store so I was on my own here. I looked right, then left and up the shelves I went. You know, those things are sturdy. I climbed up three shelves until I could reach the boxes of bags that had been pushed to the back by other shoppers.

With a hop, I was down and bags were in the basket!

Next, was a very important item for my dad's Christmas present. You see, he LOVES to eat things that come from the sea and I hate them!! But since that is his favorite, his Christmas present this year is going to be homemade oyster stew made by me. That should be an interesting labor of love.

Once I reached the aisle with oysters, my eyes were open to what lives in the sea. My goodness, isn't an oyster an oyster? How could there be so many variations? There must have been 10 different types. The recipe asked for a pint and these little cans are in ounces. Hmmm... How many ounces do I get? I don't know. I guess two cans will do the job. It will either be extra flavorful or not much flavor... Hmmm... To be determined...

Have you ever shopped at a grocery store you have never been to before?

Yeah, well, finding the season salt is a 20-minute ordeal. After walking up and down every aisle three times til we were out of breath, I think we have everything down to the wondra powder to thicken the gravy. That is what you use, right?

Tomorrow will bring the cooking experience of our full turkey dinner.

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