It was an extremely HOT day in South Mississippi for Christmas yesterday. It was definitely beach Santa weather - high 70s - shorts and t-shirt hot! I spoke with my brother in Texas who was pretty much in the same tropical Christmas mode over there, but my sister who is Illinois and sick of ice, snow and frigid temperatures said she'd love to be able to exchange temps with us for a little while!
Despite unseasonably hot weather, the Christmas dinner gathering at my son and daughter-in-law's new house was a big hit. It was a pretty large crowd - about 30 people in all - but everyone fit very comfortably in their house and it did not seem there were really that many people there at all. The food of course was excellent and plentiful - every southern holiday dish you can imagine made an appearance. As I sat there enjoying a little taste of everything, I told my husband how really blessed we are as a country to have the ability to gather like this with friends and family and have such plentiful and delicious food to share. I hope that they decide to make this an annual tradition because I really enjoyed it.
My decorator cut out cookies were a big hit both with the kids and the adults - though the kids were carrying them all through the house, and dropping crumbs everywhere. Anyway, I got loads of compliments about them - both for taste and creativity - which made them worth every ounce of effort that was put into making them, though honestly they really were not nearly as difficult as most people seemed to think they were. I'll just keep that my little secret for now. (Now, if only I could stay out of the leftovers I left here at the house...)
My make ahead version of Big Martha's mashed potatoes were also very well received and at the end of the meal there was only a very small bowl left out of the huge 12 inch by 20 inch pan that I brought. This is definitely going to be my holiday go-to recipe for mashed potatoes from now on.
I also brought along a relish tray, which I presented in my Mama's vintage Tupperware serving tray which was perfect for this - I did manage to find that dish! Kinda boring really - just pickled okra, baby sweet and dill pickles, hot pepper mix, sweet banana peppers, and pitted black olives and stuffed green ones - but people do expect them and they pick at them.
My simple and unpretentious basic deviled eggs were gobbled up very quickly too, but the surprising favorite of the day was something that was not even planned for, but rather something that I added at the last minute. I don't think I've ever had a party where I didn't include a cream cheese and hot pepper jelly dip, so while I was shopping for the party, I didn't think that anybody would mind if I added this to the appetizer selection. That stuff was barely on the tray before people immediately flocked around it! Nothing could be more simple, but people just love it!
My daughter-in-law is such a thoughtful person and you can tell that she puts a lot of effort into giving just the right gifts. My husband and I both got personalized 24 ounce Tervis tumblers (which are the best!) each with our grandparent nicknames inscripted on them. What a great gift, and right now, they're on sale 15% off and free shipping for orders over $50. They have them in every imaginable category too, so think ahead for any gift needs you might have coming up! If you don't find what you like there, you can just go to the Tervis site and shop there too.
She also gave us a gift that made me just bawl! (that's cryin' in a good way) I'm an emotional person to begin with, but when I opened this beautiful hand painted Christmas 2008 ornament with my grandson's name and his little hand prints painted on it, the tears just flew out! My son just smiled and said, "well, I guess that means that you like it?" I'm such a ninnie.
Knowing my hubs propensity for sweet goodies, my daughter-in-law gave him a bag full of assorted handmade candies from this wonderful little downtown store The Candy Cottage and Gourmet shop. Oh my goodness, he better be sure to hide that bag from me!
She also got me a sold out and now unavailable signed and numbered cookbook that local artist Stig Marcussen illustrated and an Aromatique gardenia gift set, both things that I had admired and commented on in her home, which means she is the perfect kind of gift giver - she takes mental notes of things that people say they like! Smart gal.
Together with the dozen Mrs. Prindable gourmet apples my sis sent to me, a buck and doe yard set, an angel necklace, several cookbooks and books, some favorite chocolates, some of my favorite Bath & Body Works products from the Aromatherapy Sleep line, $100 cash, and a gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse (coconut shrimp, here I come!), I think I must've been a very good girl this year! One thing I know for certain. I am blessed.
Thank you Papa Father, for Your love and especially Your grace.