Evan and I have been married for almost 2 months now. Time really flies by. We were just saying last night that December is already half way through and the next thing we know it’s going to be the New Year. This year I just can’t quite get into the Christmas season like every year before, despite my hard efforts to soak up any opportunity for Christmas cheer. This is traditionally my favourite time of the year. Family and friends get together, people are in cheery moods, and everything and everywhere is decorated with fancy lights, beautiful trees and fabulous ornaments.
2012 has been by far one of the busiest and hardest working years in my whole existence. Longer hours at work, taking on a new role, planning a wedding and learning some hard lessons along the way about what kind of people I want in my life and the kind of person I want to be moving forward. Most people would shrug, roll their eyes at me and say, “hun, that’s life so deal with it.” And rightfully so, compared to a lot of people my life isn’t that hard and yes, I am very grateful for what I have. I have a wonderful and loving husband, a supportive family, great friendships and a fantastic job with a great company. I’ve seen many parts of the world most people will never see, experienced cultures I wasn’t even aware existed and met some amazing people along the way (just writing this makes me feel better…blogging as therapy anyone?). But something this year is missing. Maybe it’s because I’m missing my sister who lives in London and will be spending our second Christmas in a row apart. Maybe it’s the adjustment to not having some friends around us that have been such a big part of our lives in the past and now they are not. It’s just not the same this year and the Christmas season just doesn’t quite feel like Christmas so it has had me feeling a little blue.
Last week I had some surprise vacation days left so I had a full week off of work, in December. In the restaurant industry that is basically unheard of. I thought I would have a nice relaxing week to myself and the next thing I knew, I had something booked with people every single day. I was busier on my holidays than being at work! I got to spend some serious quality time with some serious quality people and tried my darndest to be happy and dandy and cheery. It’s Christmas time damnit!
I kicked it off with our famous annual Managers Christmas Dinner and Party for my work, always a good time. We sure know how to work hard and party harder. I followed that up with curing a hang over the best way I know how by getting tattooed by the now famous Joshua Johnson (check out his interview on Shaw: The Scene starting January 10th. Check their website for details). After that I had a cooking date with my mama and we made ravioli. It was a bit of a role reversal, I was teaching my mom how to cook something! Crazy! We made butternut squash ravioli and mushroom and spinach raviolis. Omnomnom….I followed this same recipe for the pasta here and just swapped out the filling. Instead of making giant raviolis and using 2 sheets of pasta I made them out of one sheet and just folded the pasta over the filling and then cut it.
The day after that I had a cooking date with my Gramma. A few things I have failed at in the past at cooking: mac n’ cheese (don’t ask about the lobster fiasco), dry roast (stringy dry meat pieces anyone?), and gravy (would you like to smother that delicious piece of meat with some flavourless and chunky gravy?). For our cooking date she taught me how to make Gramma’s dry pork roast with veggies and Gramma’s famous gravy. She gets asked at every dinner to make the gravy, no matter whose house it is. We seasoned the pork roast with some thyme, pineapple sage, paprika, salt and pepper and drizzled it with garlic oil and fired into a 375F oven for a couple of hours. Then we added some root veggies and covered it with foil and cooked it for another hour. To make the gravy she made a slurry with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of water. We put the roasting pan on the stove top with some beef stock and brought it to a boil. We slowly added the slurry and whisked it until it was the right consistency. Don’t worry if you don’t need all of the slurry. Make sure you cook the gravy long enough that the flour taste is cooked out, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. My god was that pork roast juicy and delicious. That woman sure knows how to cook a comfort meal, plus teach me some more valuable life lessons throughout the day.
The whole week was filled in with making soup for an under the weather friend of mine, Christmas shopping with my mom, lunch date with my dad, snowboarding with my cousin and making Christmas crafts with some girlfriends. It was an amazing week off and I was fortunate enough to spend it with some amazing people. When I got back to work our restaurant had been transformed with lights, garland and a Christmas tree. How can you not be cheery at work when it looks so beautiful?
Despite my hard efforts, that blue feeling keeps nagging at the back of my mind and keeps tugging at my heart. I just keep hearing in my head Porky Pig singing Blue Christmas over and over again (it w-w-w-w-on’t be the same w-w-w-w-w-ithout yoooooooouuuuuu….). I think what this season calls for is more crafts, more cooking and more get togethers. Yes, that sounds fabulous. And maybe some more cow bell and Christmas rum n’ nog won’t hurt either.
Bring it on Christmas, give me all you got.