Christmas 2012, the Year of Food

12/22/2012 7:00 AM

Christmas 2012 will go down as the Christmas of food. I no longer spend days baking cookies, making fudge and Needhams and filling baskets with goodies to share. This year, the big deal is Christmas dinner times three.

My parents are going to Disney World for Christmas. I hosted dinner here for Dad and Donna, my sisters Melissa and Tammy and their families. There were 16 of us at the dinner table.

Steve, my husband, made two huge pans of lasagna. Melissa made garlic bread, and Tammy made mixed greens salad. It was delicious and simple, and an hour after everyone left, dinner was cleaned up. Three days later, we’re still eating lasagna leftovers.

I think this was the first time we’ve all been together (minus Kristin) since June so it was especially nice. Tammy’s boyfriend Dennis brought his immature goshawk, Kahn, to do some training work in the field behind the house. Kahn is being trained to hunt small game for Dennis. He dined on partridge. Taylor, my future wildlife biologist daughter, was able to handle Kahn, a real Christmas treat for her.

This weekend we’ll host Steve’s father, his step-mother Pauly, sister Erica and her husband Greg. Kristin, our oldest daughter, will be home from Boston. I did the shopping today. This weekend’s dinner will be Maine-raised roast beef, potatoes and carrots roasted in one pan, cranberry sauce from berries I bought at the Maine Harvest Festival last month, rolls and a pie or two.

We don’t see Steve’s side of the family often enough so I’m looking forward to spend the day with them. They live on the coast in a part of Maine that’s very different from our heavily forested area. It will be nice to get caught up while we chat around the fire. Conversation will cover what Kristin and Taylor are doing, what Erica, Pauly and I will be growing in our gardens next year, and how many deer we saw but didn’t shoot this past hunting season.

Our third Christmas dinner will be the smallest and quietest, and we’ll have it on Christmas day. Our days of getting up dark and early to see what Santa left in the girls’ stockings is over. Oh, Santa still fills their stockings but at 19 and 28 years old, they value sleep more now than when they were much younger.

We’ll open presents, clean up the paper, stick bows on the cats, listen to the dogs squeak their new toys a million times, and then dinner will go into the oven. I bought a ham today. I miss the days when our Christmas ham came from our own pig. Sweet potatoes will bake alongside the ham. I’ll make mashed potatoes, a winter squash, rutabaga, warm bread with local butter, pies, and we’ll have Christmas cookies and fudge.

None of the Christmas dinners we’ll have this year are fancy, or expensive, and certainly not gourmet. They are filling and hardy, and while they’re an important part of our time with our families, it is our families who matter most. My 2013 resolution is to spend more time with family. Now seems like a good time start.

As I planned our dinner I was reminded of how much of these meals were purchased rather than coming from our homestead this year. That’s unusual. It’s a good reminder of why I need and want to spend more time in the garden next year. A smaller garden this year was nice but it’s time to get back to work. I’ll write more about that later when I write my annual “varieties” column early next year.

Merry Christmas!

Robin Follette and her husband, Steve, operate Seasons Endings Farm in Talmadge, Maine.

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