Wishing for a 2005 Christmas or Am I?

I woke up this morning and checked Facebook like I do every morning. I had a newsfeed filled with Christmas trees, talk of grocery shopping for the big dinner, Latkes recipes and parents sitting on couches with little children in front of their Christmas trees drinking hot chocolate waiting on the big guy. Families are traveling from near and far to be with other family members. I rolled over and looked at my husband, who had already been up for hours working, and I wished it was 2005. I was missing the idea of both my husband and me having a few days off, no work, no emails, no spreadsheets. My two little chickens off of school, no homework, no projects. The only to do list that existed was a list of everyone’s favorite cookies, a gingerbread house in pieces on the counter, just waiting to be put together and a large pot of sauce on the stove. The smell of Christmas wafting all through the house dancing with Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas.

Instead, I’m in New York City, in a warehouse in the West Village, with The Rolling Stones Satisfaction on stun playing on a never-ending loop fit only for torture. I’m in New York City, arguably the most Christmasy town around. I have not ventured to see the tree, I have not gone to Radio City Music Hall to see the Nutcracker, I have not gotten a bouche de noel. The only Christmas lights I have seen are in the breakroom where I meet with my staff for 15 minutes every morning. I have to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There will be no big pot of sauce on the stove because I’m living in a hotel. There will be no cookies baking in the oven, and there will be no gingerbread house. There will be no leaving cookies out for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph, but to be honest, Santa and Rudolph have long since taken my house off their list of stops.

I miss the nostalgic Norman Rockwell Christmas that I remember from when I was little. I miss the Christmas mornings when my chickens were little and the look on their faces when they saw that Santa had eaten their cookies, drank the milk and the note Rudolph left for cookies next year instead of that lousy carrot.

My Christmas’s have certainly changed over the years, as they do when chickens grow up and move out of your nest and start building their own. So when I rolled over this morning and saw my husband working away, I looked out the window of the 20th floor of our hotel, and I came to a realization. I might not have the smell of Christmas cookies or the Christmas sounds of Amy Grant, but I have a good job. I have a job that lets me work every day with my husband and Christmas morning I get to wake up next to him, not alone. I’m working in a city 2 hours from where I use to live in Pennsylvania and am lucky that a few friends have made the trek into the city to give me a hug. I have made new friends and thanks to technology I can keep up with old friends. I can log onto Facebook and get my fill of nostalgia through them, and it warms my heart. I can facetime with my chickens, and I know that they are spending Christmas surrounded by love, Christmas music, cookies, and sauce.

By the time I arrived to work this morning, I had realized that I still have Christmas; it’s just a different version of Christmas. I’m surrounded by love, warmth, and the occasional Christmas lights. I also don’t have to deal with that chore I hated the most, tearing down the Christmas tree, taking down the lights and washing all those dishes.

So from me to yours, I hope your days are filled with lots of love and an abundance of cookies. The opportunity to reflect however you choose and a sense of peace. I hope all your chickens come home to roost or you at least get to facetime with them for a minute.

See you in 2017.

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4 Christmas Ham Recipes That Will Make Your Holidays More Festive

Also referred to as “Yule ham”, this traditional dish is a crowd favorite during holiday feasts. Typically glazed with honey and brown sugar, everybody loves a serving of this sweet, juicy meat dish. Try something a little different this year with these unique Christmas ham recipes!

Apricot and Sugar Glazed Ham

What you need:

4 1/2 kilogram fully cooked spiral cut ham
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apricot jam
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

In a large sheet of aluminum foil, place the ham cut side down. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard powder. Brush mixture over meat, reserving any leftover glaze. Fold foil over ham and place on a baking sheet. Roast in a pre-heated oven (275 degrees F) for 2 hours. Brush remaining glaze onto meat about 20 minutes before its cooked.

Beer-Battered Yule Ham

What you need:

9 kilogram bone-in ham
3 cups beer
1 can pineapple slices

Place the ham, fat side up, on a greased 18-quart roasting pan. Use toothpicks to attach and secure pineapple slices onto the meat. Pour beer over the ham. Cover the roasting pan then bake in a pre-heated oven (325 degrees F) until cooked through, about 6 to 8 hours. When ready, allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pineapple rings before serving.

Maple-Mustard Holiday Ham

What you need:

2 1/2 kilogram bone-in ham
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder

Combine maple syrup, mustard, brown sugar and onion powder in a bowl. Using a brush, coat the meat entirely with the mixture. Place the glazed ham in a shallow roasting pan and cook, uncovered, in a pre-heated oven (325 degrees F) until cooked through, about 2 hours. Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Cola-fied Christmas Ham

What you need:

4 1/2 kilogram pre-cooked ham
1/2 can cola-flavored carbonated beverage

Place the ham in a large turkey roasting oven bag and add cola to the bag. Seal and place bag in a large baking dish. Pierce a few holes into the bag to let off steam later. Bake in a pre-heated oven (275 degrees F) for 4 to 5 hours. Discard excess juice before carving.

Add a little twist to your dinner centerpiece with these easy yet unique Christmas ham recipes!

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Another Christmas Up the Chimney

It hardly seems possible that another Christmas has come and gone. I think it comes quicker than it goes, but then that is just my opinion.

We were sitting for the last time around the Christmas tree which was about to be disassembled and I happen to say, “I can’t believe Christmas is over. Where does the time go?”

To that, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage looked at me and said, “The older you get, the faster time goes.”

I remember as if it was yesterday when without thinking, which is usually dangerous for me, I once responded, “You must know.”

I got the “stare” that encouraged me not to respond in that vein ever again.

However, and you didn’t hear it from me, she is right. She is always right. The older I get, the faster time seems to go. I cannot believe that not only is Christmas past, but the whole year is passed. It is all just history now.

But, oh, what history it was.

Sometimes it is interesting to think back over the past year and remember some of the great occasions. By great occasions, I mean the minuses and the pluses. Some memories are good and some memories are, well, you know.

This is the genius of getting older. Now that I have another Christmas under my belt, I can mesh together two or three Christmases as though it was one Christmas occasion. After all, who is going to know, apart from the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage?

Whenever I begin the phrase, “I remember a Christmas when… ” I need to look at my wife to see if she is listening. Of course, if she is not listening, I can go along and invent my own Christmas tree story. I like to do that.

There was the time when I first did this without noticing my wife was listening and at every turn of my story, she corrected me. By the time I was done telling “our” story, I did not remember what I said.

Years ago, however, I have learned how to tell these Christmas memories and not get into trouble. One of the great things about being a husband is that you are on a learning curve. If you just pay attention, you learn how to deal with certain situations. When it comes to Christmas stories and memories, I have mastered the learning curve.

I always begin it this way, “My dear,” referring to my wife, “do you remember that Christmas when… ” That is about all I have to say and she will take the story from there. Fortunately for me, or unfortunately, it just depends, I have no idea which way she is going.

Several times, I learned things about one of our Christmases that I did not know before. Maybe I did know it before, but I had forgotten it and I am going to let it sit there. I am not going to infer that she made up any memory for the storytelling. I will not suggest that the memory she was talking about had nothing to do with our Christmas history.

That is just the kind of husband I am. I will never, ever, correct my wife about anything. Even when she makes a mistake in our checkbook, I do the “husband math,” correct it and not mention it.

It is not all bad. Recently we were sitting drinking some coffee looking for the last evening at the Christmas tree thinking about Christmases in the past. Then I heard her chuckling. She does not usually chuckle like this, but it was a special occasion.

“Do you remember,” she said still chuckling, “the Christmas tree that collapsed on Christmas morning?”

I had to stop and rewind my memory machine and then I remembered. It is amazing what you can remember when you have a little bit of incentive.

We had just moved into a new parsonage, it was our first Christmas there, and the children were rather young. Only one of them was going to school at the time. It was Christmas morning and as we got up the kids were so excited about Christmas and the Christmas gifts under the tree that they just went crazy.

My wife and I sat back, watch them and laughed as they were laughing together.

We were going to have an orderly opening of Christmas gifts, at least that was our plan. The kids, however, were so excited that they delved into the pile of Christmas presents, not knowing that behind them was the Christmas tree.

All at once, without any kind of warning, the Christmas tree fell over and almost hit one of the kids. There was a trio of screaming that I think would have scared Santa Claus himself.

Nobody was hurt, but three little munchkins were terribly frightened. They were so frightened they did not want to open up their Christmas presents.

Thinking about this, my wife and I chuckled most heartily. From then on, the children never overlooked the Christmas tree and with a great deal of caution opened up their Christmas presents.

In reminiscing about this, I thought of what the angel said to the shepherds that night so long ago, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” (Luke 2:10).

The years come and go but the most important thing are the memories they leave behind.

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