“What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us.”
Author: Frederick Buechner
This Christmas was one of the nicest, most peaceful ones we’ve had in years. It wasn’t all hustle and bustle. It wasn’t buying gifts for everyone and their brother. We kept it simple. I wasn’t trying to dive into anyone’s inner psyche to get THE perfect gift. I went practical: gift cards to places I know people use, like car washes, restaurants and stores. I kind of phoned it in. Imagine my surprise-and I was-when Jay presented me with an e-bike. First, this isn’t his kind of gift. And second, where the heck did he hide it? Only he knows. Makes me feel a little sheepish having given him a car wash gift certificate. Somehow we switched brains this year.
Well, we’ll hope for a mild winter to ride this baby. Jack and Madison spent the night and it was great to have them here on Christmas morning. We went small with them too. Jay took care of stocking stuffers this year and it was fun to see what he got all of us. Shampoo and toiletries filled them to the brim.
It was probably the first year in ages that no one (OK that would be me) collected the wrapping paper and bags to reuse. They’d been recycled enough and had reached their natural end. THAT was interesting. After doing our own thing here, we headed to my niece Skye’s in Pgh for our annual Christmas dinner and traditions. We agreed on no gifts there too, but a few did (not us!). Gosh, our family is shrinking and scattered. Just my sister Janey, and Skye and my family represented Greggs and then our close family friends the Kancles who have become like family were there. It was nice, and Skye decorates her home so beautifully. I love these little German villages she displays. She welcomes her cousin Connor despite having cats and has them trained to where they can watch when dogs arrive and not freak out. It’s so stress free.
Here’s Pete making sure he doesn’t miss anything.
After a delicious dinner, we proceeded to our Christmas crackers and silly jokes and trivia. Lots of fun there and then on to the big show-the Egg Nog Taste Off. I love Skye’s the Night Before Christmas plates. Can you tell I love Christmas dinner too?
Our Egg Taste off began one year as pure accident. We grew up drinking Schneider’s Egg Nog. When we moved to Johnstown. That wasn’t available. In those days, it was tradition for my family to come here for Christmas, so we asked them to bring the Schneider’s egg nog and they did. We had a few to compare, and the Taste Off was born. We kept it nonalcoholic so that the nogs could be judged on their texture, bouquet, seasonings and taste and as a kid, that’s how we knew it. Over the years, we’ve had some surprise winners. Giant Eagle became a runner up and then champ. Schneider’s remained in the top most of the time.
Last night, we tasted 8 and there were 10 of us tasters. Who won? First, the contenders:Yes, we now allow alternatives to dairy, like almond milk and after much sampling and discernment, the winner is:Followed by:2nd place was C.F. Burgers and then 3rd place was Lactaid.
It was interestingly an age related taste off this year. Even though it’s a blind tasting, with only Skye knowing which one we are tasting at the time, the older tasters liked the traditional nog tastes while the younger ones went for the lighter fresher tastes. Giant Eagle’s brand didn’t do well at all. They had to have changed the recipe. Those who COULD taste, said it was awful. We actually have a FB page for our taste off and once I update it with the newest results, scoring and comments, will share the link.
For now, enjoy today. I’m headed to church since it’s Sunday.
Can you believe this sky? Looks peaceful in the pasture. In the meantime, do something you’ve never done before. Find your passion and explore it. Every single day is a gift. Don’t let the world beat you down. Keep the spirit of Christmas. I’m off to tend my passion.