And all through this house lots of busy-ness. I was up at 6 making my final lists. I wrapped 2 gifts by 7 am, showered, and got a load of laundry going. I headed out the door about 8 am to finish up some shopping. One of the difficulties I have each year is getting a chance to go shopping in a timely fashion. Aside from a local Walmart, and a few speciality shops, I have to travel 20 miles or more to go to a store that stays open past 6 pm. And when I don't get home most nights till at least 6, that limits my shopping opportunities. Someday I will get to Christmas Eve day with all my shopping done and all the gifts wrapped. . . but that won't be for a several years at least! I have this "vision" that when I retire, I will have my house tastefully decorated, my Christmas cards written, and all my shopping and wrapping done by Dec. 15th or earlier. I will spend the week before Christmas baking goodies to share with friends and family. I will sit in quiet peace in the late afternoon with a cup of tea basking in tree lights and Christmas music. That's my fantasy at least!! Instead I rush around the 2 days between end of school and Christmas trying to shop, bake, wrap, etc. My tree didn't get home until last Saturday, and then the lights went on it Sunday. That's it. No other decorations. It's the most beautiful tree I've had in years with perfect branches for my ornaments, but it's just not going to happen. It smells heavenly, and at night with the lights on it, I'm completely content. During the day, it's a bare naked tree!
I'm waiting right now for the Best Buttermilk Pound Cake to finish baking. This has been a tradition in my house for almost 30 years. It came from a recipe my mom found in a Farm Journal magazine at least as long ago. It's really simple -- butter, Crisco, sugar, flour, eggs, good vanilla, and buttermilk, and it makes the most tender rich pound cake I've ever had. I dust it with confectioner's sugar and serve it for breakfast on Christmas morning. It's one of the must have recipes in our household. I try to bake it a couple of days before Christmas because the flavor improves with age . . .
Other must have offerings include Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve. I started making these years ago. I put them in my crockpot, and then it didn't matter when they got served. It's not really a recipe - it's ground beef with onion, celery, nutmeg, garlic, etc. shaped into meatballs. I usually bake them and then throw them it into a crockpot with a cream of mushroom soup base, with a little sherry, paprika, and sour cream. We serve them over egg noodles. My kids used to complain that they hated them because of the mushroom soup. One year however, I decided not to make them since they complained so much. I served ham instead. My kids were livid -- how dare I not make the meatballs! So ever since, I have to make them. My sons are now 29 and 30 and they say the meatballs are a dish they love to hate! There are 4 kinds of cookies I "have to have" on Christmas too --- "Mrs. Greenhill's Shortbread" which are a recipe my little brother came home with one year from his 2nd grade teacher, Ginger Crinkles which are a basic molasses cookie, "Aunt Crissie's Butter Cookies" which are an icebox cookie that you roll out and cut into shapes, and the newest member of the must-haves, "Cranberry-Almond Biscotti." I used to make Pecan Tassies, too and Magic 7 Layer Bars, but we've pared down over the years! This year's baking has been off --- my shortbread tastes terrific, but the cookies themselves cracked and crumbled when I sliced them before baking. The biscotti crumbled too. I'm not sure what the problem is/was. They look awful, but they taste good!
So now I'm waiting for Elder Son to arrive. He's actually in town, at the office with his father, setting up a new office computer. Younger Son stayed in California. He and his girlfriend were here at Thanksgiving, and couldn't afford a 2nd trip back east. We plan on a quiet and relaxed holiday. My church service is at 6 tonight which is a bit of an awkward time for us this year. It's always been at 7 or 7:30, and for some years we had both an early service and one at 11 pm. I miss the 11 pm service -- it was the final cap on the best day of the year. I actually like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day. I've decided that it's the anticipation I enjoy -- I love seeing the wrapped gifts under the tree, thinking about how my family will enjoy what I've gotten them. I love the waiting.