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December 25, 2003: Overstuffed

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Christmas is almost over and there is so much over the past few days I want to talk about. Mostly it is family stuff - both families, but there are some other things to mention. So I will start with those, tonight, while I'm still awake enough to get them down, and deal with the rest later.

The hats: I was prepared to be stopped at the airport security gate and told I'd have to give up my knitting needles (because technically I suppose they could count as sharp objects). In preparation for this I had printed out the sheet from the TSA website where it says that they are, in fact, allowed. To my disappointment, they did not even blink an eye at the knitting needles - although the tins of cookies in the smaller suitcase caught the attention of the scanner and it had to be tested for explosives. I suppose seeing two large round metallic objects in a suitcase could be disconcerting.

Because the first two hats I made were too small, and then because I'd been so sick, I only managed to get one of the 'final' hats finished before we left for Richard's parents' house on Tuesday night. Luckily they didn't seem to mind me knitting while I was there, so the second hat was started and finished by lunchtime on Wednesday. And the third hat I started at the airport as we waited to board our plane, and was not finished until this afternoon, after all the presents were opened and we adults were sitting around in a cinnamon bun-induced stupor while the kids chased each other around the house with little plastic lizards who would stick out their tongues if you squeezed them. And amusingly, the final hat I made - which is just a little loose on my oldest nephew's head - fits me perfectly.

It felt odd, later, not to have any more knitting to do. It made me wish I'd purchased yarn for the sweater I want to make for myself, so I could have at least started on that. Oh, and speaking of sweaters, that cute little blue sweater I made for my nephew fit just fine - with one teensy exception. It will not go over his head! Somehow, even though I followed the directions, the neck opening is just too small, and I'm honestly not sure there is any way to fix it. I'm not upset about it - after all, the sweater was just for fun and it can always be used to clothe a large teddy bear - but I do wonder how I managed to screw it up. I sense more knitting lessons in my future as a result. At least all three hats fit fine - although I imagine it's a bit harder to screw up a hat than it is to screw up a sweater. At least that's the theory I am sticking to.

The food: Despite trying to divvy up the cookie baking so no one would have to do it all, we ended up having enough cookies to feed a small third-world country for a few weeks. My little sister went a bit gung-ho with baking, apparently, since there were boxes and boxes and boxes of cookies - almond teacakes, anise shortbreads, pfefferneuse, chocolate crinkles, and on and on. It did not help matters any that she had the kids make a train cake for dessert - fashioned out of two pound cakes iced and then covered liberally in various store-bought cookies. Plus there was the fudge, and the box of homemade candies that comes yearly from a friend of my mom's, and bowls of M&M's, and some kind of sugary sweet everywhere we turned.

Since my sister and her family are vegetarians, we did not have the usual Christmas meatloaf. Instead we had a pretend meatloaf - made from the Boca crumbles - which was actually quite good. And again, my sister went all out. I think she saw an excuse to try out a bunch of recipes on a crowd and went a little crazy. There were brussel sprouts with chestnuts (delicious, but then I love brussel sprouts). There was mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing with onions and apples, and we started the meal with an incredible potato and cauliflower cheese soup spiced with just a tinge of curry. The only 'traditional' dish at the meal was the green bean casserole. I think we all ate until we were far too full, and I've a mental list of which recipes I want her to give to me (like that soup!).

More later - probably in tomorrow's entry. I am pleasantly full of far too much good food, and far too many cookies. For the first time in over a week I can breathe normally and my sinuses are (mostly) behaving. Our hotel room is warm and I'm a little tired and hoping that, unlike last night, I might actually be able to sleep. And I am, rather pathetically, wondering most of all whether we might be able to find a yarn store at some point while we're out tomorrow doing the after Christmas shopping because if I cannot work on sweaters, at least I could possibly be making more hats.

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