xmas eve

I started a rather long post last week that maunders on about the broken ways we talk about discrimination and privilege in our society. I plan on finishing it (it may be a multi-post effort), but it needs some revising and editing. I do have a tendency to go on and on. So instead I’m focusing on the holidays.

Today we’ll be spending the afternoon/evening with extended family, which I’m looking forward to. I’m trying out a new recipe for bienenstich cake, a German pastry. I made the sponge for the brioche on Sunday night. The recipe recommended letting it “ripen” for a day, so on Tuesday I added the rest of the components for the brioche dough and let it rise again. Then I put it in the fridge to firm up overnight and this morning I made the honey-almond glaze and set it up for the third rising.

I hope it turns out. I’ve never done a yeast-based cake before, and the recipe I’m using didn’t do a great job of translating European measurements to American measurements. I really wish we’d get on the metric system with the rest of the civilized world.

For gifts, I’ve gone with a dual approach: Far-flung recipients received candy shipped to them from the internet or Shutterfly photo gifts. Recipients within driving distance receive the (dubious) benefit of my crafty creativity, from hand-painted jars of cookie mix to homemade dolls to crocheted items.

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Hand-painted jars with cookie mix

A topsy-turvy doll in progress (Anna/ Elsa)

A topsy-turvy doll in progress (Anna/ Elsa)

A topsy-turvy doll in progress (Elsa/ Anna)

A topsy-turvy doll in progress (Elsa/ Anna)

A purple ninja doll.

A purple ninja doll

I don’t have pictures of the crocheted items to show, because I didn’t think to take pictures until gifts were half-wrapped. Anyway, obviously I’ve been pretty busy with painting and sewing and baking and whatnot, so I haven’t had quite as much time to write blog posts or even on my book. That said, I did write at least 500 words this week on my manuscript, so yay me?

I’m pretty stoked about Christmas this year. Well, honestly, every year. It doesn’t matter how many holiday seasons I see, I keep loving Christmas best. I found a recipe for these cookies my mom used to make around the holidays: Chocolate Mint Surprise Cookies. I’ve baked several batches of those, and I’ve also tried my hand at gingerbread cookies. I think next year I’m going to try a Yule Log.

Kidling wanted to do an Advent Calendar this year, but we forgot. I’m thinking next year, we’ll do an Advent Calendar and maybe figure out a way to incorporate some version of the Advent wreath. Although my family was not Catholic, we did an Advent wreath every year — I think my parents picked it up while in Germany. Each Sunday during December, we would gather ’round the family dinner table in the evening to light a candle on the Advent wreath. I think my mom or dad would also read the story from the Bible about Joseph and Mary traveling to Jerusalem, but I’m not 100% on that aspect. It seems to fit in with my family traditions — my parents were all about making sure Jesus was front and center in our holiday festivities and Santa was a backseat character. What I remember most, though, was the rice pudding served when we lit the Advent wreath. One of the bowls of rice pudding would have an almond hidden in it, and whoever received the almond got a little present.

I think we can probably do a version of the Advent wreath that acknowledges the Christian origin myths underpinning our personal family histories while also drawing in the overall religious/ solstice reasons we celebrate the holiday. I think that would be a good tradition to start/ continue in our family.

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