This Christmas had the potential to be a bit of a bummer. This was my year to work and be on call through Christmas which meant no trip home to share the holiday with family. Granted we didn’t have a family Christmas during my 4th year of vet school (also working. Had a chinchilla die Christmas morning. It traumatized Andrew forever), but that year we had many friends in the same boat as us and had a jolly orphan Christmas. Here in Yakima with our old friends scattered across the country and new friends with family plans of their own, we were faced with the prospect of Christmas for two. This was especially upsetting for Andrew who is used to large family gatherings both on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The closer we got to Christmas, the more convinced he became that this would be the lamest holiday ever.
Well, I couldn’t have that. Periodically, I will rise to the occasion and make something awesome. Like Andrew’s surprise murder mystery birthday party set in the vet school anatomy museum. This holiday probably didn’t meet those standards, but I think I made it pretty good nonetheless.
I worked a half day, then came home and helped with the traditional Brauer family saffron bread. Normally I don’t enjoy this bright yellow baked good, studded with red wisps of saffron, but this year my taste buds inexplicably had a change of heart. Turns out saffron bread is delightful! For dinner we followed another Brauer tradition and made Swedish meatballs. Because we were not exactly making enough to feed a crowd, we tried a different recipe involving one of our favorite cheeses in the sauce: gjetost. This is a goat cheese that has been caramelized, making it sweet and tangy and chewy like a mixture of cheese and caramel (go figure). It is certainly not most people’s favorite cheese… OK, most people who try it declare it to be “weird” and then studiously ignore its presence on the cheese plate. But Andrew and I love it. Alas, the meatballs were under-seasoned and between the cheese, sour cream, and actual cream in the sauce, I went into a mild lactose crisis after dinner. But we watched several episodes of Doctor Who, so that was good.
Andrew’s normal Christmas tradition is to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and open presents in a haze of sleepiness barely held at bay through sheer will power and caffeine. Often this results in my first word of Christmas becoming the f word, and I am more inclined to answer any jolly “merry Christmas!” with a sincere mutter of “go to hell.” This year we slept in till a delightful 8:00 and I woke Andrew up by Skype-ing in our brother and sister-in-law and niece to say good morning! Then we rolled out of bed and opened stockings and Santa gifts (a big gift card to home depot for us novice homeowners! We are debating whether to spend it on paint or light fixtures…). I also surprised Andrew with ugly Christmas sweaters for the dogs and Santa hats for us. Then we ran down to the clinic, still in our pajamas and hats, for morning treatments.
Breakfast was one of my favorite family traditions: eggnog scones. I maintain that it simply isn’t Christmas without eggnog scones. They’re that good. We opened the rest of the presents after breakfast. Some highlights: Star Trek robes (blue for me because mom knows I’m a science officer at heart, even though blue only came in man-sized; command gold for Andrew, who immediately said, “heck YES I’m the captain!” And posed with an apple, ready to take on the Kobayashi Maru), “foodie” magnetic poetry, a pretty lizard necklace, a globe, and a combination rice cooker and crock pot. Alas, I did not get chickens or a goat. Ah well.
After presents (and the traditional creation of naughty limericks with the magnetic poetry), we had an epic Nerf gun battle. Then we took ourselves outside to go sledding. Andrew discovered that we can sled from one fence line to another on one of our hills… or at least he could. I could go several yards, then fall over. Sledding is not one of my major skill sets, as it turns out.
For dinner we had a tiny ham, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots. With more Doctor Who, saffron bread, and a delightful port for dessert. We also put together a 3D puzzle of Hobbiton (it took three whole episodes of Doctor Who. 3D is tricky, yo) and skyped with my parents and some good friends before turning in for the night.