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Merry and Bright

Posted Dec 27 2013 7:22pm


Hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas! ‘Twas a great one in Arizona, for sure.

The holiday week is automatically merrier and brighter when Mama Bender’s peppermint-eggnog punch  is involved. The recipe just keeps getting better every year. For 2013, it featured:

We kicked off the official holiday celebrations on Christmas Eve at my mom’s cousins’ Patti and Richard’s house. The decor was beautiful, and the food was delicious.



Baby bro and I brought two dozen chocolate crinkle cookies after a baking session that morning.


It was great to see the whole family and catch up. We also snapped a photo of the five of us!


In addition to chatting, there was some stiff holiday competition in the form of 1) a pitching (golf) contest in the front yard and 2) team karaoke! Everybody had a partner and song choices among the family included, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Beat It,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” among many others.

Papa Bender was teamed up with Dan, and they chose “Any Way You Want It” by Journey. Mama Bender and little bro decided on “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, while Bobby and I went with “Wild Wild West” by Will Smith. Oh heck yes. I will spare you the entire video clips, but hope you enjoy this snippet. I think everyone was entertained by Papa B’s signature dance move!

If you want to hire us for your next party, just let me know. :) When we got back to the Bender house, my mom presented me with some delectable macaron pajamas in honor of Napa and Paris . Just looking at them makes me hungry.


And then…we slept! After all, we wanted to wake up early on Christmas morning.


Once the stockings were un-stuffed and the presents were opened – there was a lot of great stuff to go around this year – we whipped up our traditional brunch egg casserole


…and a few Bloody Marys, too.


Then it was time for the annual Bender Family 9-Holer, which featured a visit from Rudolph this year! Well, technically, the photo I got below is of Rudolph’s mom. A few seconds later, Rudolph and Clarice popped out from the bush and chased after her. It was so sweet to see the fawns – a definite Christmas treat. Bonus: Mama B and I took first and second place, respectively.


We hung around for a bit in the late afternoon while Papa Bender put the finishing touches on his turkey and stuffing for Christmas dinner. This time the stuffing was a blend of both Thanksgiving creations , with croutons instead of bread crumbs.



He also made creamed spinach. The sauce was comprised of half-and-half, flour, chicken broth, garlic, pepper, salt, sugar and thyme. The spinach was sautéed in a bit of olive oil and garlic.


We also had a ham from Whole Foods and decided to apply two different glazes: brown sugar mustard and a honey baked ham copycat recipe . The boys all thought they’d like the latter best, but in the end the girls were right – the first one was awesome. :)


Finally, Mama Bender and I made these ultimate twice baked potatoes , which we “ultimately” decided to remove from the skins to place in a casserole dish instead.


Everything came together nicely, with plenty of leftovers for the days to come.


After dinner, we played an intense game of Monopoly (Papa Bender and Bobby ended up in a draw).

How was your Christmas? What is one of your favorite memories from this year?

I’m starting to think back on 2013 and it’s too hard to choose just one. It’s been a good 361 days!




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