Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Dinner

I was looking forward to Christmas. Don't get me wrong. I love watching the kids open their presents. I love getting together with the whole clan Christmas Eve. I love the traditional candlelit Jerusalem dinner we have in a tent the night before Christmas Eve. We eat chunks of cheese, fish, fruit and flat bread with our hands. The candlelight flickers as my husband tells the Christmas story from the perspective of a shepherd. These are all great things, but what I was REALLY looking forward to was Christmas dinner. More specifically, MY CHRISTMAS DINNER. I'd been planning it for weeks. I LOVE to cook ginormous meals for company. I don't just LOVE it, I Lu-huh-huh-huh-ve it. It makes my pulse race. I dream about it, and this dinner was the stuff of dreams indeed.

First, I brined my turkey. Never heard of doing that? I hadn't either until just before Thanksgiving on Pioneer Woman. She started it. For Thanksgiving, I bought some brine, and begged my mom to try it, and it was divine. This time, I made my own brine. As the turkey was baking, scents of apples, oranges and cloves wafted through the house. It completely changed the texture of the meat. Tender, juicy are some of the words that come to mind.
I made Pioneer Woman's dressing too. It's a mixture of cornbread and French bread. Yes, I made cornbread to make the dressing, weird, huh? The cool thing was, that I was able to use my fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, and well, bottled thyme. I don't grow thyme yet. But I felt waaayyy domestic, just snipping it and bringing it inside.
I also made rolls, green bean casserole, tossed salad, jello salad (except I forgot to tell the Muslims it had gelatin in it, which has pork, so they can't eat it. Big oops! I bet there were a few extras prayers said that night) My husband made the mashed potatoes, I made the gravy, and then to the desserts! I made pies, lots of them. I made pecan, pumpkin, and a cool new apple caramel one from, once again, Pioneer Woman. I also made two blueberry cobblers, her recipe too. I let my aunt bring only the few things I could bear not to make myself.
A few months ago, my parents broke the news that they would not be in town for Christmas. I'm happy to share them with my sis, so I had to go on the hunt for other victims. My Aunt and Uncle next door were perfect. They have tons of company in town! In all, we had 1 grandma, 1 neighbor, 7 natives to the house, 1 Saudi, 1 Egyptian, 1Chinese, 1 Kazakh, 1 Azerbaijani, 1 Thai, and 3 cousins and my aunt and uncle. We had Egyptian music blaring, little guys dancing, and people stuffing their faces."I'll just help myself to a little of this, no one's looking." When it was over, and we were stuffed to capacity, about half the food was still there.
That gave me some serious satisfaction. I had so much fun trying new recipes, and hosting so many people. When it was done, I skipped out the door for a movie with my other sis and cousins. I came back, and the dishes were done. These were some pretty serious dishes. Can it get any better than that? I think not.
I loved it. Can you tell?
I get a little over enthusiastic.
Someone grab the camera.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas pics

Christmas morning, before the kids got to come in......

The stockings were stuffed to overflowing.

Holy Mountain of Presents, Batman!

Thank You, Rashed!

Lovin' on Daddy

What's in the box? 50 pounds of LEGOS!

Push your finger in here, it makes a noise.

This boy's got a blade.

Chocolate Grin

An afternoon of bliss...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some Thoughts on Christianity

I've had some thoughts brewing around in my heart that I want to share. I was blog hopping the other night, and came on a blog where some gals were discussing the religion we share. I was blown away by their anger. Talks that had inspired and challenged me, left them crying and swearing. I kept reading and reading, baffled at first, but then I began to understand. Behind the anger, was incredible hurt. These women were so injured, because they felt like they didn't fit into the 'mold' that was expected of them. I thought a lot about this 'perfect woman' mold, she even has a name. We know how many children she's supposed to have, all the things she's good at, and all the complicated details she's supposed to juggle.
I've thought a lot about Jesus Christ, and what he taught. He compared us to all the many parts of the body, each different, but essential. It's absurd to think that the being who created the almost infinite variety of flowers, and made us each so different, would expect us all to cram into the same mold. He doesn't. His church doesn't. We do that to each other. We come up with that all on our own.
I've asked myself: how do I feel when someone from church makes a decision I feel is wrong? How do I feel when I see someone with a talent I don't have? What do I think of someone that has way more money than I do, or way less? I'm ashamed to admit, that I withheld friendship from an amazing person for several years because she was so pretty, I felt plain next to her. Christian? I don't think so.
I was in the grocery store yesterday, and it was packed. One poor woman in a scooter was blocked, and was agitated enough to swear at the people in her way. I was filled with unholy glee because she goes to my church. I mentioned this to the woman wedged in the aisle beside me who replied "I guess that's why we have church, isn't it?" Ouch.
I've thought about how really and terrifyingly fragile we are. We're all brothers and sisters, and there's quite a bit of sibling rivalry. We desperately want to know that we're good enough, that we're loved. It's a sad reality of human nature that we can perceive someone else's weakness as somehow increasing our chances. The other side of the coin, is to assume that everyone else is enough; that we're the only one lacking. We can think that other people's strengths somehow negate ours. We assume that we're the only ones who depend on a friendly smile, a compliment on our haircut, or a squeeze on the arm as we pass in the hall.
I tell myself, that I shouldn't need other people's approval to know that I'm okay. I should just care how God sees me, and how does he see us?
We're his babies. We're as cute to him as our babies are to us, except he doesn't have to wipe our bums. We're still just babies. We make mistakes, just like our little ones do. It's cute when my baby tries a new word and doesn't get it right; when he comes running to me, arms outstretched, and biffs it at my feet. Our Father has compassion for us, and we're endlessly precious and cute to him. I'm convinced of that. And we're also- right now- in all our warty imperfection, ENOUGH.
This Christmas season, I'm going to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by doing my best to become more like him. I'm going to try to remember each day that I'm precious, and you're precious; that there's room enough in heaven for all of us. Instead of seeking other's approval, I'm going to give it. Instead of seeking out the gals who are like me, I'm going to look for who needs a friend, or a smile. I'm going to remember that all those people who've had a harder life than me, that may not look like they have it all together, they're enough too. I'm going to spend more time loving others, instead of working so hard to dot every i and cross every t. That's real Christianity.