What if Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More?

In a year when people are getting trampled to death for cheap wrapping paper, when cities are under siege, when the stock market is wiping out 401K's, when my husband is damn lucky to still have a job, when my kids are *this* close to outgrowing that magic twinkle in their eyes that only December can bring, I thought it was high time to shake up my holiday traditions.  This year, I'm channeling the ghosts of my Christmas past, present and future in order to rediscover what it's all about, and I'm dedicating this whole week on my blog to just that.  Because, really, in the end, what we do and what we give can reflect what Christmas is about for you, and what it's about, for me, is this:

It's about putting a song in our heart

About what's precious

About wishing on the brightest star

About supporting our friends

About laughing so hard we pee a little

About keeping the magic alive

About creating

About discovery

And about remembering why it all matters in the first place.

Three Years Is Much Better Than Sixteen

It's officially, as of today, three full years since I've talked to my father.  I knew we should never had agreed to have our first big entire-family Thanksgiving.  Won't be making that mistake again, I assure you.

I alternate between missing him, being completely, fanatically* pissed off at him and being filled with bright green oozing envy at my brother, who still talks to him.  I mean, my poor brother sent me a video that he shot of his kids opening a present that Popup had mailed them, and I COULD NOT watch it.  Was my dad in it?  No.  Do I miss my niece and nephews so much it hurts?  Yes.  But the thought of my dad completely ignoring my kids for most of their lives, and doting on my brother's?  It INFURIATES me.

My brother, just so you know, is going to leave a comment to the effect of 'karmic retribution for being the fucking golden child growing up, ho' and he'll totally be right, so don't yell at him.  We love him.

Anyway, I was falling asleep last night, trying to decide where I'm at with the old daddio, and I got to thinking about what really was keeping me from moving on.  I move on rather easily in most situations, but this one has me hanging.  Why am I still so mad, three years later?  Is it because he rejected my pathetic excuse for an apology?  Is it that he, like my mother, just never asked even one question after I walked away?  What is it that's really got my chonies in a knot?  And then it hit me.

3 Cabbage Patch Dolls and a BlowPop.

When I left my mother's house, I had one small suitcase and two small backpacks to cram 16 years of stuff into.  Everything else had to go in the dumpster outside so that when she came home the next day, there would be no trace of me left in her house.  I wiggled and jumped and bounced on those bags, packing them as tightly as I could with what little clothes and shoes I could fit.  But I could not, not in any small way, bear to throw away the 3 Cabbage Patch Dolls my father had taken me to get when they first came out.  Against my mother's orders, we stood in line for hours to get those freaking things.  It was the only abjectly defiant thing I'd ever done, and those sonsofbitches were coming with me.

I also brought a goodie bag from a sleepover I'd attended a few years before.  My friend Alisha had a big sleepover at her house in Philly when I was, oh, maybe 14, and I'd never actually been to a sleepover before, so I totally went.  I didn't really know anyone there, but I grew up with Alisha; she was more like my sister than my friend, and her mom more like a mother, you know?  I was totally fine on my own.  At this sleepover, she had goodie bags.  Everyone's had makeup in it, but since I wasn't allowed makeup, Alisha's mom had filled mine with candy and stickers and stuff.  I ate all the melty candy and did something with the stickers, but I kept the BlowPop that was in the bag, and I kept the bag, too.  I packed them and brought them to Colorado with me, too.  They meant something to me, I just couldn't put my finger on what.

My father had a box in his garage where my old stuff was kept, just one little box in the back of the garage.  I'd gone to get it out a few times, but I could never get to it.  He's got one of those garages where you open the door at your own risk, if you're dumb enough to even try.  Finally, when he was moving, he cleared the whole thing out and I came over to get my box, with all my old clothes, my suitcase, my dolls and my blowpop, and it was gone.  The 25 boxes the shippers packed in 1986 full of coupons for KFC and newspapers that were laying around his apartment were all still there 17 years later, but my one box of super important, never replaceable tokens of my past hadn't survived the cuts.

Aside from the monster of a parent he was, aside from the shitstorm he dropped on my brother, aside from the way he made 2of3 cry every time he saw him, that is what I am not ever, ever going to forgive him for.  That is the source of my anger.  I had only 4 pieces of my history, only 4 items in the whole world I could hand to my children to share a piece of my childhood with them, and he told me he'd keep them for me.  And instead, he threw them in the trash.  That day, in my heart, he became no better than my mother.

And I am really, really thankful that it only took me three years to figure that out.

*You know you grew up in Philly when you think fanatic should be spelled with a 'ph' and no amount of spell check is going to convince you otherwise.

You Can't Have Everything...

Where would you put it?

I started a little recipe contest a few weeks ago, and a contest for free flower delivery a few days ago, and today is the day to announce the winners.

First, the recipe contest.  Wowzas, there were a lot of entries. Note to self: Don't start a diet right after you start a recipe contest.  Or do, if you are into torture.  I used that randomizer thing to pick 3 entries and came up with these, and then I made them.  Truth be told, I made lots of others, too, but we JUDGED these:

The meatloaf?  I honestly like the flavor of mine better, but here's the thing:  Mine takes hours. This one took about 5 minutes to prep, 30 to bake, and when I asked my kids over dinner whether they like that one or mine better, they said, "Dude, mom, totally this one."  That kicks ass.

The Burrito Pie?  Couldn't have been a better fit.  Did I ever tell you I can't make casserole?  I have no clue how to make one, no recipes for one, and nothing would fulfill my white picket fence suburban dream like the ability to bust out a nice casserole.  Also, a drug habit.  Bygones.  So I made it, and I ate it even though it has tortillas in it and therefore totally a diet cheat.  And I loved every single bite.

The danish?  Why the hell do you think I'm on a diet now, anyway?  I let 1of3 make it for our Thanksgiving dinner, we just subbed apple pie filling for the cherry since cherry anything is my short ticket to an early grave.  And then we made it again a few days later.  And again the next week.  And I dream about it, I really do.

But, I can only pick one winner, because, well, until I get a fucking job, I really can't run around buying a bunch of strangers presents.  As hard as it was to pick, I had to go with the Burrito Pie*.  I mean, look at it.

It was super easy, crazy freaking delicious, cheap ass all hell to make, and the kicker?  Every. Single. Person. in this house devoured it.  No one didn't like it, no one at all, not even the kid who looks like she's about to kill me.  And that almost never happens around here.

So, Cuz I'm the Mommy, send me your address so I can send you a gift (and maybe a hint as to what sort of kitchen thing you'd like to have), and Lisa and The Real Life Fairy Tale Princess, I have to at least mail you a mixtape or something, so send me yours, too, if you don't mind.

As to the flowers from Flora2000?  Well, you people ALL need lots and lots of flowers.  Except for Tanis; she needs to make her husband give husband lessons.  Here's how it worked: I picked one winner and I randomized one winner.  I wanted to pick Surfer Jay, because his comment made me about pee in my pants.
The most selfless thing I’ve ever done for my mother in law was to get her daughter knocked-up. I mean really knocked-right-up. Selfless indeed. After all, what mother-in-law wouldn’t want to become a grandmother?

Yes, dude, I know what you mean.  Someone did that to me, once, too.  *gigglegiggle*  I wanted to pick Kori, because god knows she could use them right now, but I had to go with Sophie at Inzaburbs.  Because, yeah, her husband is not even as smart as mine.
It’s simple. It’s me who deserves the flowers. Why?  Because (although he is, of course, perfect in every other way) my husband has never bought me flowers. Ever. He did bring me flowers once. He fished them out of the trash can at work because they “still had some life left in them”.

That's totally worse than finding half a worm in your apple.  That's just, uuuuugh.  Buy yourself something nice, honey.  Something not covered in coffee grinds and rotting broccoli.  The radomizer thing picked Hockeyman, who is a JERK who sent me a recipe for Key Lime Pie in the comments of the I'm On A Diet post.  He hates me, and he'd getting flowers.  He'd better send them to his wife.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and really, if you need a recipe for anything, take a look at that link sheet and dig through the comments.  There's some mind-numblingly good stuff in there.

In case you didn't win anything, I offer you this:

That is my daughter's room.  We spent hours the day before sorting through every Barbie shoe, every barrette, and putting 8 bazillion tiny little things in their proper drawers and cubbies.  The next morning, I woke up to that.  This.

See, I lost, too.  Badly.  Apparently, if you have everything, you can just throw it in my kid's room.

*Recipe after the jump.

This is one of those throw-together casseroles that tastes much better than a regular weekday supper should.

Burrito Pie

2 pounds ground beef or turkey (I use half of each so I don’t have to hear The Hubster bitch about it!)
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 2 oz. can black olives, sliced
1 4 oz. can diced green chili peppers
1 10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
1 16 oz. jar taco sauce
2 16 oz. cans refried beans
12 8-inch flour tortillas (I prefer The Hubster’s homemade ones, but White Wings brand has a pretty close replica)
9 ounces shredded Colby/Jack cheese (Um, this is totally an estimate. More is obviously better!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the ground beef for 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 5 more minutes. Drain any excess fat. Mix in the olives, green chile peppers, tomatoes with green chile peppers, taco sauce, and refried beans. Stir mixture thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture in the bottom of a 4 quart casserole dish. Cover with a layer of tortillas followed by more meat mixture, then a layer of cheese. Repeat tortilla, meat, cheese pattern until all the tortillas are used, topping off with a layer of meat mixture and cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is slightly brown and bubbly. Yield: 16 servings