Christmas Day was an extension of holiday firsts for me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I broke from a lot of Christmas traditions this year (namely, being lazy all day in PJs and visiting my family in California). The lazy in the PJ’s thing is something I can live without, for the most part, however…the being away from the family was a bit rough. Sure, I was passed around on my dad’s cell phone during their big get together…but it wasn’t the same. I missed watching my tyrannical little cousin, Mason, shoot everyone with NERF balls, eating Aunt Laurie’s delicious soup and pumpkin cake, and laughing at decade old jokes with my cousin, Jenny…to name a few delightful elements of the Ward Christmas Hoedown.
Here’s how I filled the family void this year:
-Stepping outside my own personal mini-dramas by volunteering at a local community center ( Goddard Community Center , a great organization and facility.)
-Making a proper Christmas dinner for two of my closest friends, Jodi and Vince.
Will touch on each of those momentous occasions in one moment, first let me tell you about my breakfast. It wasn’t my mom’s amazing Strata, for sure, but it was light and lean…which left plenty of room in my stomach for all the crapola I was going to stick in it later:
Fuji Apple Slices, 1 Sliced Banana, and Cinnamon Over Chobani Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
After letting my breakfast settle a bit, I proceeded to do about 20 min. of a YTTP podcast, plus a little extra ab-work. Then, I hopped in the shower, got dressed, snapped a quick self-portrait to commemorate my first Christmas in my first apartment:
…then it was onto the Goddard Community Center, where I was on my feet for the next 3 or 4 hours serving yummy Christmas dinners and desserts to people who’ve known actual hunger throughout their lives. The older I get, the more I’m learning to reverse the curse of American entitlement that tends to creep into a lot of us (at least that’s my opinion). I’ve found that a good way of doing that is by counting my blessings whenever I can and remembering that there are many, many, many people all over the world who have things A LOT HARDER. Mental illness, chronic diseases, poverty, substance abuse, violence, bad freaking luck, etc. Those are just some of the many adversities the guests at the Holiday dinner have (and still continue) to endure.
I met all kinds of lovely people from many different walks of life, had many funny and sweet conversations, was razzle-dazzled by the HEE-LAR-IOUS live Liza Minelli-style entertainment, and served more slices of pie than I ever knew could exist in one room.
Needless to say, it was an ineffable experience, and I recommend you check out your local community center and see what the volunteer options are. I can only speak for myself, but I found it to be incredibly uplifting and rewarding. It did kind of break my heart to see some of the homeless kids and senior citizens who usually are out on the street…but they were in good spirits and happy to be there. Plus, on a much more selfish note, there was some serious babes helping out yesterday! Good-natured and good-looking men? Yes, please!
After my shift was over, I wandered down the barren streets of NYC on Christmas Day to a Starbucks, had a Tall Skim Gingerbread Latte, and came home to prepare dinner and clean up my place for my guests!
I was pretty worried that Jodes and Vince would be rendered unable to make it due to Airline nonsense. For, you see, Jodi was supposed to fly out of Kansas on Wednesday (She was visiting her family), and her flight was canceled due to the predicted storms raging across that portion of the country. After much frustration and traveling turmoil, she made it back to NYC in once piece on Christmas Day around 5:30PM. How you were able to go through that flight ordeal and not literally have your head explode all over the place impresses me, Joben!
Since I didn’t really have lunch, but definitely wanted to preserve my appetite for dinner, I had a KIND bar, a Mexican Chocolate cookie, and half a grapefruit for an eclectic mini-meal/snack:
Then, I went on to cooking like a crazy woman for a couple hours. I got a simple snack spread going for us to nosh on:
Veggies and Blue Cheese Dressing
Holiday M&Ms, Peanut Butter Cups, and Dove Dark Chocolates
I made Cornish Hens, which were absolutely terrifying to prepare. I’m may change poopy diapers without so much as batting an eyelash, however, I draw the line at hearing the sound of a hen’s rib cage snap as I cut it in half with kitchen shears. I won’t even get into the gizzard removal.
It turned out to be worth the trauma, though, because they were pretty tasty. The meal was comprised of recipes all from the same cookbook (which I unfortunately can’t share). Get the Complete Cooking Light Cookbook ! It’s amazing and I use it all the time.
Here’s what my plate ended up looking like:
Oven Roasted Green Beans, Rice Pilaf w/Toasted Walnuts, Orange Ginger Glazed Cornish Hen Half
"There's a Hole In That Hen's Butt!"
So yeah…the reason there is a giant hole in my Cornish hen’s tushy meat is due to the fact that I was obsessively poking it with a meat thermometer to make sure it was thoroughly cooked. I did not want to poison my friends on Christmas day, no way.
After dinner, I broke out that Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Pie I made the night before and enjoyed a slice of that: During dinner I had champagne:
And some Egg Nog with Red Label Whiskey compliments of a certain Vince Averill:
Jodes is Engrossed With "Elf" in the Background
Basically, I just chilled with my homies, snacked on sweets (including some delicious cookies Jodes brought over), snacked on veggies (balance!), and watched “Elf” and “Home Alone” for the second time this week. After Jodi and Vince left, I passed out right before Kevin set up the booby traps for the burglars. When I awoke, the DVD had shut off, the lights were all on, and I was too tired to get up and give a damn. So I slept in my clothes on the couch! Boo-yah!