It’s amazing how much of being a grown-up is an endless cycle of facing new things that I’m not 100% sure I’m enough of an adult to handle adequately. Luckily, I also have enough foundational decades of adulting my way through everything I’ve faced thus far in life as to face each new adulting challenge with a core sense of faith that I will find my way through.
And sometimes I come out the other side feeling kinda proud of myself. Which is how I’m feeling tonight.
Over the stretch of weeks I prepared for our #FirstSoloGrownupChristmas, I thought about a lot of things—getting presents shipped in time*, making our house pretty**, honoring my feelings of disappointment while also leaning into my many reasons to be grateful and appreciative. What I didn’t start thinking about until just a couple weeks ago was the food.
Like many families, we have a traditional sequence of meals around the holiday. We usually do hors d’oeuvres on the night of the 23rd—the day Mr. Mezzo and I drive out to my sister’s house. Then Christmas Eve day, I bake 2 batches of bread—one for Christmas Eve fondue, and the other for oven-baked French toast on Christmas morning–while my niece bakes a pie, and my sister and Mom work together to get the breakfast casseroles assembled (the French toast one and an egg-and-cheese-and-potatoes one); cut up steak for the beef fondue; and do whatever day-before prep can be done on the roast for Christmas dinner. When evening rolls around, my BIL concocts the cheese fondue while my sister gets the beef fondue set up and Mom cuts up the bread.***
There’s enough of us in the house that we share the work. All of us are helping out to some degree, and no one has to spend the entire day in the kitchen. And honestly, since my big contribution is something—baking bread—that comes easy to me, I’ve always seen myself as being one of the lightest contributors to our holiday menus.
So a couple weeks ago, when we were putting together our biweekly shopping list, I suddenly realized that whatever amount of this menu we we’re gonna recreate in our little house on the hill, it was all on our two sets of shoulders.
And we definitely simplified things. We only did one fondue (cheese) and breakfast casserole (egg, cheese, potatoes). Which meant, in turn, that I only had to bake one batch of bread on the 24th.
Still, on the 24th, I baked bread, pre-made the casserole, made the fondue and tenderized the roast for Friday.
On Christmas morning, the casserole took a bit longer to cook than planned, so I made plain old French toast in a frying pan for our breakfast, and the casserole became a yummy lunch. Then we did a superb roast with sour cream-horseradish sauce and various sides for dinner.
And then tonight we did apps while watching a Muppets Christmas special on DVR.
This has all been a nice reminder that yes, when I make the time to do so, I can be a darn good cook. And I’ll admit, the part of me that always feels unprepared for adulting is a little bit chuffed at stringing together three days of festive holidays menus. I mean, yeah, I kinda knew all along I’d be able to do it. But it still feels good to have succeeded, y’know?
I’m very much looking forward to sharing the work again next year. A little bit cos many hands make the work lighter, but mostly because that Christmas Eve time in the kitchen together is fun all on its own. The conversations, the laughter, the ballet of weaving around each other in my sister’s kitchen so it all gets done. Its own portion of holiday joy on the menu.
*** I am no longer allowed to do so an account of one memorable Christmas Eve where I nearly sliced the tip of my thumb off.
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