1. The twinkling tree
2. Boy in Slanket*
3. Dog eating Santa hat
4. My daughter bursting with excitement and beaming with happiness as each of her carefully chosen items was unwrapped and exclaimed over. With a limited budget, she'd spent the week planning and shopping and wrapping and thinking about everyone in the family. A football for her brother. A coffee mug for her aunt. A gift card to the grocery store for my mom. Hand-drawn cards and tape all over every present. In one wriggling body, she epitomized the whole idea of this magical day: It's truly better to give than to receive**.
That's my girl.
5. Egg Nog French Toast
A tradition in our house for years. Must serve with at least 3lbs of bacon.
Egg Nog French Toast
4 cups purchased egg nog
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large loaf sourdough or other hearty country french bread, cut into 3/4 inch slices
1 stick butter, melted, plus additional for drizzling
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Put bread slices in a single layer in one or two glass baking dishes. Pour custard over bread, dividing equally between the dishes if you use two. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400. Pour 1/2 of melted butter onto large (10x15) baking sheet. Using spatula, transfer bread to baking sheet. Brush remaining butter on top of bread. Bake 10 minutes, turn over, and bake until golden brown and crisp on the outside and still soft in the middle, about 6 minutes more. Drizzle with a bit more melted butter, then sift powdered sugar on top before serving. Serve with warm maple syrup or a fruit compote. (If you are a compote type. I am not.)
Click to print this recipe!
* His favorite gift, from my sister. After prompting from my niece that this was the perfect present for everyone in the family ("It's like a blanket with SLEEVES inside, Auntie Shar!), my sister had spent weeks investigating the relative merits of the Snuggie vs. the Slanket vs. all the other Snuggie wanna-bes on the market (Comprehensive review, and her go-to site: here) Overcoming numerous obstacles (Sold out in kids sizes! Reported post-laundry pilling! No free shipping!), a huge amorphous orange bundle tumbled out into my son's lap and his entire face lit up. Just what every lazy 13 year old needs during winter break: a way to play on his iPod, flip channels between football games, and eat grapes without ever leaving the comfort of his cocoon on the couch.
And yet...I, too, was elated by this gift. After being literally devastated by a casual remark from my husband about Christmas being different when you are older, his aunt restored his belief and childhood wonder in one fell swoop. It's like a ridiculous piece of fleece, with CHRISTMAS inside!
** The joy of giving barely edged out the thrill of opening the present from her brother: A huge box full of hundreds of fruit snacks. It was like she'd died and gone to heaven. He called that one perfectly, and the look on her face said it all.
That's my boy.
And this Christmas morning with them was all the gift I could have asked for.