Saturday, December 21, 2013

24 Days to Christmas: Days 20-21

Day 20: What do you do on Christmas morning?

Because we lived about a thousand miles from our extended family, we usually spent Christmas just the four of us (mom, dad and sister). In fact, we spent most holidays with just the four of us, which means that my archetype for all holidays is not hustle and bustle, but a long, lazy day with good food and some time spent reading. Basically perfect - no dressing up, no driving, no arguments.

Usually, we woke up and opened presents - you were allowed to open your stocking before parents were up, but nothing else. 

Last night, my mom and I were talking about the fairly modest Christmases we had as kids. When I was little, we didn't have a ton of money; plus my parents were sort of social-activist types who didn't believe in kids having sugary cereals, gum, soda, or flashy presents.I know that the gifts in this photo probably look quaint and small through today's eyes, but many of those toys have become hallmarks of my childhood. Though not the drum. I think maybe I put a drumstick through the paper top.

After presents, we usually had a Swiss bread called "grittibanz" (sometimes called "grittibaenz") for breakfast with orange juice. There's no particular reason - we're not Swiss or anything (Russian and Spanish/Guatemalan - probably the farthest you can get from Swiss, if the military history of these countries is any indication). Mom just saw the recipe in a magazine and liked the idea of it.

Grittibanz are giant bread boys - kind of like gingerbread boys - flavored with cardamom and glazed with an egg wash. It's very hard to make a grittibanz that actually looks like a boy - they rise in the oven and then their faces get all misshapen. However, they are always delicious.

The grittibanz at right is one that my mother made. However, in searching for pics of grittibanz, I nearly had my childhood destroyed. Naughty grittibanz came up. I'm not having any of that. My grittibanz are pure of heart and spirit!

It became clear through my search that grittibanz can also be quite scary -- check out this ad campaign:

I'll put those guys right up there with scary clowns, thank you very much.

Day 21: What do you eat for Christmas dinner?

This one's easy! Nothing!

No, not that we didn't eat Christmas dinner. We did. It's just that we didn't really have any Christmas dinner traditions in my family. My mom's family ate beef Wellington, so we had that a couple of times. That's a lot of work for four people, though. Sometimes we had Italian crepes (crepes with ricotta and red sauce). A few years my dad made a curried corn chowder with chutney, for some British-Indian-US fusion.

However, most of my family's holiday food traditions (except the grittibanz), are linked to Christmas Eve...
so more to come.

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