The kids have all grown up to an age where they're almost entirely independent and so we adults are freed up to selfishly pursue our own less infantile (or so we tell ourselves) interests. Long moments of huddling over toddler -sized plates, painstakingly cutting up bits of turkey so they no longer pose choking hazards, characterize these times together no longer. The youngest in the group is my very own Oliver, who is a great, big, self-sufficient seven and who runs around frantically, shirt-tail sweatily untucked, with the very best of them.
There were 22 of us gathered together and to say that we were loud is a ludicrous understatement. We aggressively clamored for conversational preeminence. Once achieved, that heady position was almost instantly again stolen by the next extrovert.
The kids played pool, ping-pong and fooseball. They chased one another around and basked in the delicious warm of spending long chunks of unscheduled time with not-oft-seen cousins. It made me feel a stab of happy watching them enjoy themselves so much. They didn't even seem to need the atrocious culinary excess to fulfill all their Christmas dreams in the way we adults most markedly did. We ate till we felt sick and asked one another in a turkey-induced daze, "why would I do that to myself?" And then we had dessert.
We had a white elephant gift exchange, which was the brain-child of my very clever sister-in-law. We were allowed three steals per gift and it was a lot of fun. I also loved that it didn't contribute to yet more excess, and in fact, allowed us to do some intentional regifting to those whom we felt would be more suitable recipients of the 'goods' we had on hand.
In a fit of Christmas generosity, I want to share a new-to-me recipe that a friend passed along this year. Though to call this a vegetable requires a great deal of eye squinting and even some intentional misleading., we ate and loved this trashy little number this year. It is the o-so-lofty and elegant sounding:
Sweet Potato Souffle
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
Beat together. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees Celcius until set in a shallow, buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with topping and return to oven for 10-15 minutes longer before serving.
Topping (mix together in a small bowl):
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup rice krispies