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Sometime after you have children, your expectations of Christmas change.  I’ll admit that even into my early 20s, I really looked forward to seeing what gifts I would receive on Christmas morning.  Once I had my wonderful children, the focus immediately changed from my enjoyment of Christmas to their enjoyment of Christmas.  I find that that feeling has grown each year.  This year that was especially true, as it has been a difficult year for all of us.

The most poignant moment of Christmas this year came in the form of my daughter’s Christmas letter to Santa.  Katie is eight now, and in some earlier conversations this year, you can see the cracks in the foundation of belief.  Brendan, age five, is still in solid Santa territory, but I wondered if she was just keeping up appearances for her brother’s sake.

On Christmas Eve, Katie spent some time that afternoon crafting a rather lengthy letter to Santa.  She’s a super-smart, ultra-polite kid and she had some questions for the big man.


Here is the text of the main letter:

Dear Santa,

My name is Katie, but I know you know that and I know that you know what I want for Christmas.  So that’s not why I’m writing you this letter.  I just want too ask a few questions if you don’t mind.  How many toys can one elf make in a day?  How many elfs do you have?  Where do you find elfs?  How dose (does) your slegh (sleigh) fly if it’s the raindeer (reindeer) then how do they fly?  Do the raindeer like to fly?  I am sorry if I asked to many questions.



Now, aside from the grammar and spelling errors, this is a very complicated letter for Santa and his 6 foot 2, midwestern elf who crafts response letters to answer. BUT THEN THERE WAS THE PS.

So, about an hour later, Katie inserted a scrap of paper into the handcrafted envelope on the mantel.  I was told I should check it out by my sister-in-law.  And there it was:


I just lost it right there.  Normally, I’ve been able to keep it all together this year concerning the diabetes.  Yes, it totally sucks, and I am so grateful to live in a world where Type 1 Diabetes is manageable, but there is no escaping it.

Even on Christmas.

I am pretty sure I know where the question came from.  Katie and I both LOVE the movie Elf, and if you have seen the movie, you know that Buddy and his elf kindred eat nothing but the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.  I imagine she was curious HOW an elf would be able to manage diabetes.

Anyway, Santa’s 6 foot 2 midwestern elf took dictation from the big man himself and crafted a response letter answering the questions which you can see below.


Overall, I don’t know much longer Santa will be a part of Katie’s life.  But, I will say that her letter will be the most lasting memory I have of this Christmas.

And with that out of the way, it’s on to my second favorite thing about Christmas.

Massive amounts of amazing food.

I get A LOT of food around Christmas.  It’s one of the perks of being a teacher.  I get cookies, candy, and different mixes as Christmas presents each year.  It’s rather overwhelming, and each year I take a large portion of the Christmas bounty to Michigan to share with my wife’s family.

I had two excellent mixes this year.  The first was an awesome beer bread mixture that we had with dinner my first night there.  The second was a gift from our pastor’s wife.

Carol is a marvelous cook.  We’ve always had excellent meals over at their house.  As a matter of fact, I just finished snacking on her incredible antipasti about 10 minutes ago.  Anyway, this Christmas she gave us a variety of goodies:

Chocolate Hazelnut Pancake Mix

Creamy Maple Syrup

and for the win,

Creamy Maple Syrup WITH BACON.


Now, I’ll tell you, creamy maple syrup is incredible.  It’s pure maple syrup that is heated and combined with heavy cream.

Tree goodness+Cow goodness=AWESOME

I had it on waffles and thought, “This is amazing.”

Tree goodness+Cow goodness+Pig goodness=CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

We had the Chocolate Hazelnut pancakes Christmas eve morning.  I heated the Creamy Maple Bacon Syrup carefully in the microwave, stirring occasionally, making sure it wouldn’t get too hot or overflow in the microwave.

Then I put it on the chocolatey pancakes.





I’m pretty sure standard pancakes are ruined for me now.  I even had regular maple syrup on a waffle a couple of mornings later, and I’ll admit, it was a bit of a letdown.  It was so perfect.  The salty bacon mixed in with the creamy sweet syrup, blending with the rich pancakes made for a breakfast experience I’ll long remember.

On Christmas Eve, we had the traditional dinner of oyster stew.  I posted a bit about this earlier in the year (i’m amazed that I’ve created 47 posts this year…and that I can self-reference myself).  It was pretty good, and it paved the way for my new favorite Christmas tradition:



Without a doubt, prime rib is my favorite meat.  You may have noticed my banner at the top of the page.  That’s last last year’s Christmas day prime rib.

I remember the first time I ever had it as a freshman in college at a restaurant called Barth’s at the Bridge, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin (Sadly, I just discovered this restaurant is no more).  It was before a dance and a large group of us went out for dinner together.  I still remember the first time I saw this huge chunk of VERY red meat sitting before me.  Now, I came from a family where meat was only EVER served WELL WELL WELLLLLLLL DONE.  That prime rib was my introduction into how flavorful meat could be.

My father in law uses the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Prime Rib.  A copy of which can be found HERE.  He even dry ages it for a week beforehand as well, which really concentrates the flavors.  This is a big key in making an outstanding prime rib.  I really don’t do much in the preparation of this marvelous meat.  I usually help carve, or hover around the kitchen basking in the prime rib’s reflected glory.  However, I do eat prime rib, and eat a lot of it.

This year, the sides included asparagus with grated parmesan, corn casserole, cheesy potato casserole, and rolls.  I DO NOT PARTAKE IN THESE FILLERS.

I had a plate of prime rib.  The lovely and talented wife asked if I would like to take a minute for her to take a well-crafted photo of the prime rib before I devoured it.


So, I hastily took this picture and dug in.


And then I dug in on a second piece.

And then I had a slice of apple pie a la mode from the AMAZING Grand Traverse Pie Company.


And upon the completion of this meal, I slept for nearly three hours.

It is truly my favorite thing we do on Christmas day (we open gifts Christmas Eve), and is part of what makes Christmas a special time of year.

With ALL of that said, I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas, and I pray you all have a happy and safe new year.  As usual, I’ll ask a question to close.  What are your family’s Christmas food traditions?