December 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
We never get much of a traditional Christmas around here. I’ve been running in shorts all week and this year there’s not even enough snow in the mountains to go skiing. So the parts we do have, we tend to do to extremes. We have five kinds of Christmas cookies (including one double batch). We got a tree that’s a foot taller than usual this year.
We made a lemon-themed bûche de noël instead of our usual gingerbread house; lemon sponge cake, rolled and filled with lemon curd, topped with torched meringue with lemon cookie elephants walking along the sides. Told you things were a bit alternative — the elephant cookie cutters have been in the family since before I started doing most of the baking. We also have a collection of flying dinosaurs, but that’s a story for later.
Tonight we’re cooking up seven kinds of fish, a tradition we’re apparently stealing from the Italians. This morning, we took the local grocery in full family-force and the intake includes salmon, tuna, whole crabs and crabmeat, scallops, prawns and mussels (we may be cheating and counting crab twice). Because of the Spare the Air alerts, we’ll be baking instead of our usual BBQing and we won’t be having a fire in the fireplace tonight. But I’m excited to recreate the stuffed mussels I had in Italy and to pan-fry potato latkes and crab cakes. Again with the mismatched traditions.
Even without the white Christmas, the air smells distinctly like Christmas. A run around our hill brings the slow setting of the sun as it settles into the misty, pastel sky. As it gets darker, the outlines of houses covered in lights start to appear up and down the hill on either side, and families wrap up their early evening walks, kids get carried home. Maybe we’ll drive out looking at the lights tonight after dinner. Maybe we’ll even convince Dad to let us play Christmas carols on the drive.