Christmas is sneaking up on me this year. I’ve been listening to Christmas music of course, and the tree is up, but we’re at less than two weeks now and I still have a lot of shopping to do. It’s actually quite alarming how much remains. The fact that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year is a huge fly in the ointment, and it’s made planning get-togethers a lot more difficult.
This year I got my new tree, because the old one was shedding exponentially more needles every year. The bad news is, the new tree is hinged. Apparently they all are now. Hinged trees are supposed to be a snap to assemble, but try doing it in a corner sometime and then tell me that with a straight face. And that includes lighting the thing. I think next year I’m going to have to physically move the tree further out into the living room—a process that involves moving a chair that has nowhere to go—to get this thing done. But at least it looks nice. The lighting troubles meant I ran out of tree before finishing the colored lights, so I ran the rest of them through the middle instead of the blue strand I used to do. I miss the blue strand, because that was kind of a tradition when I was a kid, but I can live with it this way; I ran out of time and patience to even think of adding it this year.
The next two weeks leading up to Christmas are also going to be pretty full. Right now I’m trying to tie up some work projects, getting my next book ready to upload, getting ready to market said book, preparing for some work flow changes that promise to be both annoying and exciting, and somewhere in there I have to get more shopping done. And wrapping; I can’t forget the wrapping.
But with time flying by I need to do one other thing: It’s time to seriously start planning my Christmas vacation.
This year instead of big movie or TV marathons, I’m thinking of doing some gaming. It feels more active somehow. (Stop snickering.) Still, I’ll have to work in some time to watch a few movies, and especially some MST3K and Stooges. The reason for that is, of course I want to cook up some special food and you can’t play an RPG while eating a cube steak.
I’ve mentioned my favorite sandwich before, and this time I won’t bother linking to it because it’s come up enough. Two years ago I tried to cook it sous vide, but I realized it just didn’t have enough time to soften the meat to make it worth my while, unless I was willing to get up early which defeats the purpose. Last year I got a mini broiler pan, and that actually worked a lot better for cooking, except of course that did nothing to soften the meat either. What I’m starting to wonder is if this cube steak approach is all wrong, and I should be using a top-quality cut instead, like maybe a thin ribeye. And maybe I’ll have to try that before Christmas, just to see. The problem with that of course is that such steaks are not sandwich-sized.
Let’s talk cheese. Cheese fries are on the menu at some point. I also want to experiment again with making slices of melt-friendly cheese via sodium citrate and, now that I have some, sodium hexametaphosphate. And it’s been quite a while since I last made any mozzarella. (I very much love my homemade mozzarella, prosciutto, and basil rolls, but they’re a lot of work. I’m thinking I should just buy some for the break, instead of making them. But still I should make mozzarella anyway, either straight or marinated.) Oh, and this year Hickory Farms brought back their bacon cheddar.
Basically my dreams are small, but I’m expecting to enjoy them thoroughly. Games, meat, MST3K, mushrooms, more games, cheese, Stooges, popcorn. Maybe I’ll build a Lego set too, which is always a fun time. At the closing of the year, it’s always worth it to revel in the holiday and enjoy the freedom I’m blessed to have; not everyone can get that week off, after all. And it’s important that I punish my body for getting older, with all the things it could consume with ease when I was half my age; it needs toughening up.