Sometimes in all of the hustle and bustle of the commercialized Christmas season, it is easy to lose sight of the real joy of Christmas - Love. This year all of the adults in our family agreed to forgo gift giving with each other so that we could focus instead on giving to needy families and children. The company I work for is huge into community outreach. Our employees give time and money to hundreds of local organizations. Each year different departments each adopt a local family in need. We had a family of seven. Their requests were mostly for necessities like blankets, space heaters and warm clothes. Of course the kids had some toys they were hoping for as well. We were able to get just about everything on their wish list donated. I was fortunate enough to be able to be part of the team that delivered the presents to the family this year. I can't adequately describe how grateful and excited the family was. The kids were allowed to open one present while we were their. The joy on their faces was a sight to behold.
This year I became involved with a group called Dining for Women. We get together once a month for a potluck. We write a check for what we would have spent going out to dinner and donate it to DFW. The money is used to empower women and girls who live in extreme poverty all over the world by funding programs to educate them and improve their lives. This fabulous group of women have touched the lives of so many other people in our community and all over the world through their volunteerism and giving. This month we banded together to give to a local childrens home called Sunshine Acres. We put together several gift boxes that were filled with gift items, party favors and cake mixes so that the children could have presents and birthday celebrations throughout the year. It was a fun gathering of friends that also happened to be a great way to give back to the community.
With all of the gift giving and donations out of the way, it was time to focus on family. It can be pretty stressful and difficult to get growing and extended families together over the holidays. Fred's kids have so many places to visit over the holidays. Everyone wants to see the grandkids, including us. Fred and I have never had traditional work schedules, so actual holiday dates don't really mean a whole lot to us as far as celebrations go. We are used to being VERY flexible with our dates on these occassions. To alleviate the stress of having to try and see everyone on the actual holidays, we decided to have a Thanksmas (thank you Tyler for coining our new holiday) celebration between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fred proposed doing an afternoon into evening celebration so that we could play games both outside and inside. What a splendid idea! This way the family and friends could pop in anytime.
Family Time - Generations
The big question for me was what to make for dinner? I wasn't sure when our guests would be coming and going. I also wasn't sure how hungry the crowd would be. My daughter in law offered to bring a salad and our daughter brought some tasty beverages. We also had some noshing materials set out. For the main food event, I thought it would be fun and handy to do a pasta bar. I got busy making Lachesis' incredible Alfredo sin Mushrooms, Frecklefoot's killer Vodka Sauce, and my own version of meaty spaghetti sauce. I cooked up three different types of pasta and sliced and diced a variety of veggies and Julie Hasson's Italian Sausage. It worked out swell, with people coming and going all day. Everyone got a hot and fresh dinner. Oh, and I must not forget the garlic bread. Our son-in-law was in charge of cooking the garlic bread; lest we have the ADD induced tragedy of last year's burnt loaves. I made a mixture of olive oil, tons of garlic, fresh herbs and Carla's Cheezy mix for the garlic bread. I could have eaten a whole loaf myself...and I may have. I don't think anyone went home hungy and everyone got to custom order their pasta. It was a really fun way to do a holiday dinner. This may be a new tradition for us!!
Pictured here are the pasta bar fixin's
Here is a view from the other side. You can sese the sauces simmering.