Every year on Christmas Eve, I tuck myself into bed with not only visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, but also a firm reminder to take lots and lots of pictures of our festivities.
And just as predictably, as Christmas Day winds down and I once again lay my head on the pillow and rue the fact that the day slipped by with precious little in the way of photographic documentation.
Ugh. How does the day slip away so quickly, one activity blending seamlessly into the next with nary a moment to pause and reflect on such a simple task as grabbing my phone and snapping what's in front of me?
Well, of course, I'm thankful.
This is not an actual problem, this never-ending flow of celebration. But this series of photos is just a hint of the way I spent my Christmas Day, and I invite you to use your imagination to fill in the rest!
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^ I am not ashamed to say that I literally chugged my breakfast drink. It tasted like heaven.
^ During my high school days, I went through a multi-year phase of eating a giant cinnamon roll every day for my lunch. Now they make me surprisingly sentimental
When my daughters were young, our Christmas breakfasts were either an afterthought or a candy fest, but these we plan them out and heartily enjoy the delicious prelude to the day. This year's menu features Irish coffee - or hot cocoa with Bailey's for the non-coffee drinkers such as myself - and a luscious pan full of homemade cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. A breakfast fit for hearty Hobbits and we enjoyed every morsel.
^ Underneath that giant heap of paper is a sleepy dog.
^ Christmas morning is so exhausting, amirite?
We open our gifts with alarming order and ceremony, patiently taking turns to go one at a time, passing the freshly received gift around for all to admire, the giver often sharing back stories about how this particular item was chosen, and the recipient offering thanks. In typical Streicher apple-pie order, we also sort the wrappings as we go, separating the recyclables and the trash into two piles.
Early on, Gracie wanders into the beginnings of the heap of recyclable paper and lies down for a nap. Her eyes shut tight as I begin to cover her, layer after layer, with discarded paper until she is buried three feet deep.
We smile, we laugh, we finish our unwrapping and get ready to move on. Still Gracie sleeps.
Finally, I call to her, wake her from her slumbers, call her out to join me in the kitchen. The rest of the family waits in excitment to see how she will react when she realizes that she napped under the Mountains of Moria.
But Gracie, unruffled as ever, simply stands up and walks on.
^ Call it a charcuterie or a cheese board, it's always a delicious midday meal.
^ Not only are they bound to please a wide variety of taste buds, these arrangements are highly photogenic and always stirs up a bevy of eager IG hounds.
Years ago, when I first began to lay out these spreads, I put a significant emphasis on pretty. What we actually wanted to eat took a back seat to what made for an aesthetically apprealing arrangment and while I can certainly say that we managed to accomplish both objectives, I've since changed my ways. Our charcuterie this year featured only the most adored and devotedly tried and true family favorite food items, and I cared not one whit about how they looked.
Well, that's a lie. I cared not one whit as I laid on all the cheese, meats, nuts, and crackers. But at the last moment, I tossed on a couple handfuls of fresh raspberries and two sprigs of soft green rosemary, turning this simple crowd-pleaser into a feast as beautiful as a soft summer morning in the Shire.
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Along with tasty meals and lots of presents, our Christmas Day festivities almost always include a viewing of the Lord of the Rings. After all the years of this tradition, I feel quite sure that Mr. Tolkien is with us as a welcome guest at our holiday table, though I'll probably never get a photo to prove it,