Christmas Archive

This year the Enlightened Housewife is confronted by a unique challenge. How to cater for the traditions encompassed (that’s wordy) by three cultures. (“Encompassed”. ¬†Sounds like the state of my wallet before I started Christmas shopping this year. As in. My wallet encompassed a lot of money before I was exposed to the terribly effective marketing processes by the major American Merchants.
To wit, Macy’s flyers came through the mailbox almost daily. In the last two weeks we had a Last Minute Sale. Then a final sale. Then a Last Second Sale!!


So Philip our German Au Pair and I were talking about the different ways of celebrating Christmas around the world. Philip is used to celebrating Christmas Eve. In and aound his village,big hot dinner is Raclette which his family comes together to celebrate.

“The word “raclette” comes from the French word “to scrape.” Raclette makes up a simple meal that was enjoyed by shepherds in the fields. They would boil up some potatoes, and heat a stone and melt a bit of the raclette cheese on the hot stone. Once melted, the cheese was scraped off and served on top of the potatoes. Raclette has a long history and has been mentioned in medieval writings.”
The German tradition is to have the heated grill in the middle of the dining table and everyone takes their own plate or pan to cook a selection of meats, veges and cheese! Yum! The gift giving is on Christmas Eve. And get this folks! Santa visits the young children in person! Knocks on the door Christmas Eve and hands out gifts to all the young children. I look at him amazed! “How the fuck does Santa take time out of his busy schedule to personally visit the children in your village?” And the Villages around, he says,” like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

So far,So Great. Germany celebrates on Christmas Eve and we have a young gentleman from Germany, his first Christmas away from home and now I’m¬†eager to make sure there’s not too much of a disconnect to knock him into homesickness. “We’ll have our hot dinner Christmas Eve to celebrate for Philip I tell the Master of the Domain. Hubby. He looks resigned. “That just means we’ll have all the cooking and preparation for big meals two days in a row”, he says. “I know right!” I bounce.

The Kiwi tradition for a meal is a combo of a hot meal, seafood and grilling (barbecuing) And anything in between. Cooked and devoured with plates on knees or dressed up sitting around a dining table. Which makes Absolutely No Sense given New Zealand celebrates Christmas in Summer. But dress up we must given our Commonwealth ties:

So. We subsequent to much forelock tugging, we plan our hot meal for Christmas Eve:


Roast Pork with Sage and Fennel

Roast Chicken with Tarragon Mustard and Chive Butter Glaze.


Squash Casserole. (This is a testimony to the American element of our Christmas. (Squash, Shopping and Starbucks)

Scalloped Potatoes.

Roast Fennel Bulb and Red Onion

Steamed Fresh Vegetables.

Other Sides

Italian Seasoned Stuffing.

Recipes¬†and photos to follow. I will say the roast meat was amazing. I’d cooked roast lamb three nights ahead and left the fat and juices in the pan. When it came to cook the pork I fired up the oven to temp (415′ for 25 minutes then back down to 350′ for three hours. I threw the pork in on the dirty pan. The pork was flavored with a cumin/black pepper rub and sprinkled with Mustard seed and Coriander seed.
The chicken went in 1 hour and fifty minutes out. A mustard chive and tarragon mix to baste while cooking. The fat from the lamb cooked the pork to a state of tenderness and with a flavorsome crust that you can’t get with a pan scrubbed clean.

Only one more day until the next shopping day:

Best Ever Sale ft Macy's

Best Ever Sale ft Macy’s

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First off. The best part about Christmas is not being a dead celebrity.

The worst and most depressing part is not watching the Christmas time antics of the Kardashians. Though that is depressing.
It is being exposed to the barrage of tributes about those we have ‘Lost’ building up to the New Year.

Normal people die or pass on. Those of us remaining grieve and move on.Celebrities are different. They get ‘lost’.

Interesting metaphysical connotations. Maybe the association with Hollywood gives celebrities an added dimension to their existence.

Instead of being Goneburgers like us normal folk; celebrities are still here, ‘With us‘. Another perplexing term.

Like, if the rest of us just squint the ¬†right way they’ll be back, ‘With Us’.

We won’t be able to touch them. We’ll probably see right through them. Ewww!

But they’ll be around; just a fainter version.

Dead celebrities would be the best people to take to a party.

Even better than live celebrities.

Some issues here¬†for Hollywood agents. Who to put where on the circuit? You’ve got your A list celebrities. your B list and ¬†now your Dead List.

Does¬†Joan Rivers get one of the most coveted lanyards to the Oscars? Or is this seen as a snub to those who didn’t die and become useless to the industry. Who’s accorded seniority? Rivers or Close/Keaton/Streep

Still! Dead celebrities won’t drink once they figure out they look stupid¬†when the liquid drains right through and end up on the floor.

More for the rest of us.

Unfortunately they won’t be able to play the role of sober driver because of the limiting factors of being non corporeal.

The gag possibilities are endless. Imagine being pulled over. Sheriff: “Blow into this breathalyser. Patrick Swayze: ¬†” I’ve got one problem.”Sheriff: “Hey aren’t you that guy out ¬†of, what’s that movie”?

Patrick: ” Ghost. That’s my problem”.

So this year.  spare a thought for the non-working dead celeb who passed in 2014.

It’ll be hard not too.

Robin Williams in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Robin Williams in 2011. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.



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We wind up Christmas Eve playing Ticket to Ride with our oldest son. He’s in fifth grade and not easily¬†fobbed off when he asks the awkward questions. ¬†He’s too old to be called a child but too young to treat as an adult. And the faith is strong in this one. Proudest moment of my life ¬†was this time last year when he declared: ” Mom I’m the only fourth grader who actually believes in Santa!” He said this with pride and not a hint of disbelief in the existence of magical creatures.

This elaborate ritual¬†glorifying the wonder of¬†childhood is Christianity’s¬†greatest triumph. Other than taking the art of brewing beer to it’s highest level¬†that is.

I lose Ticket To Ride and the guys wind me up. I’m fiercely competitive so it’s easy. We have some laughs and¬†my son¬†and I fight over who’s going to post Team America to my Facebook feed.


My cousins back in New Zealand ¬†rise to the occasion and post “New Zealand Whaka Yeah”.

Whaka is a Maori word; a grammatical particle. One reason why as a culture we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our native language sounds like a cuss fest but you know it’s not because we’re smiling as we speak.
It’s when you see the whites of our eyes you need to move back. Slowly.

We’re a self conscious culture as opposed to a confident culture but we cook a mean roast dinner and our nation was settled with a whole lot of mutual arse kicking.

New Zealand scenery is out of this world. I grew up on a movie set and had no idea. I was born in the most beautiful country and I now live in the most beautiful country. This is the duality of national pride I am blessed with this Christmas.

Belief is a mindset you can re adopt as an adult. The proof is in the giving. Stop Believing and all you receive for Christmas is socks and undies .
Maintain your level of Belief and anything is possible. Unless you are dealing with Wellington City Council (NZ) but that is another story.

Christmas Eve Yeah!

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How awesome is Christmas Eve! Filled with magic and bonhomie. I pat myself on the back for just being human! For being an awesome enough species that evolution bought us to the point where society is geared around supplying young children with the thrill of eagerly awaited sacks of gifts from a magical entity. Different cultures faiths have different variants. Well mostly. It must suck to be a Jehovahs witness child at this time of the year.

Thankfully I’m about as pagan as they come. I take all the good bits and leave aside the rest. I love the rituals and that there are strong and loving souls who¬†who preach messages of love and faith to and on behalf of the rest of us. They feed the poor, the homeless and keep the Good Ship of Humanity on a true course.

And if the religion doesn’t prohibit the consumption of alcohol that’s a bonus.

Speaking of which. I seem to have become taste blind to Chardonnay. I may have to get inventive.

Pisco Sour made using Peru's national spirit the grape brandy Pisco. Mojitos are so old school.

Pisco Sour made using Peru’s national spirit the grape brandy Pisco. Mojitos are so old school.







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Presents wrapped. Wine poured and put aside for the moment. I’m too busy putting last minute touches to the table settings to relax just yet. I love the Holidays!

As I reflected on in my ¬†previous post.¬†Christmas can be overwhelming for immigrants to America.¬†¬†If there is any time you’re going to get a rush of culture shock it is during the most important holidays of the year.

I was talking with a friend from Boston recently. We were discussing how it’s amazing how different two English speaking cultures can be.

After my experiences here, I am convinced my native country New Zealand speaks an English dialect. It’s moved on from an accent to a dialect! I could do an ongoing series of posts on this.

This week I was at Safeway for the third time to upend my wallet into their tills. Here in America the millstones of commerce grind slow but they grind exceedingly small.
The lovely lady behind the deli counter said as she has before: “Oh I love your language”! “What language do you speak”?

I realise I’m using nods and gestures to communicate to get my pound of crab.

Once I’ve known people for a while they get used to my accent.¬†If I get excitable I lapse back into New Zealandese. ¬†My friend says: ” Monique I can’t understand a word of what you’re saying but I love listening to you”.

At this point I try to swap to water.

We had closets installed in our sons new bedrooms this week. The installers were Mexican. I fed them leftovers from a class party even though I resent they kick our arses at football (soccer) . We chatted. It’s nice that we were able to communicate. I tell them I’m from New Zealand and a bit of our family’s story. They say: “Oh we thought you were Russian! Apparently they have a Russian co-worker who learned to speak English as an adult. We sound similar. Who knew!

My husband has an accent but is able to make himself understood fairly easily.
“Ohh I Love your Accent”,¬†coo his female co-workers. If I ever wanted to get rid of him I’d send him up to the playground with a dog and a newborn. It’d tick all the boxes and he’d be picked up by¬†the first single female he talked to.

Here’s a good explanation on understanding the New Zealand accent.









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