Every year, the holiday season comes at just the right time for Alaskans.
Sunlight is sparse, temperatures are dropping and the chore of scraping ice off our windshield and windows seems never-ending.
But it’s also the time of year we spend with family, friends and loved ones. Attending parties. Enjoying the last couple long weekends before a new year starts.
And, of course, eating.
That’s my favorite part of the holidays — filling up on chocolate-covered, sprinkled, deep-fried, buttery goodness. Not worrying about the massive caloric intake. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for. Growing up, my Christmas feast began with a breakfast casserole. No better way to start the day than with eggs, cheese, and of course, bacon.
After breakfast, snacks were served. A vegetable medley with sour-cream-based dip, cheese and crackers, and a shrimp platter — my favorite.
My strategy was to skip lunch — not that anyone needed it after the morning feeding — to save room for as much turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie as possible.
Turkey was always the main dish. But it’s my mom’s moist stuffing that I craved.
My grandma’s mashed potatoes are just as addicting. With a healthy dose of cream cheese and sour cream, her mashed potatoes always remind me of the holidays. They’re one of those special dishes that come out just few times a year — mainly because eating them on a regular basis would cut your life expectancy in half.
Grandma is also an expert baker. Her specialty, pies.
And she always came loaded with a variety of tasty treats. It took several trips to the car just to bring them all in when she visited during Christmas.
The challenge after dinner is to try to fit as many slices in your stomach before throwing on a pair of comfortable pants — with an elastic waste to account for the extra inches gained throughout the day — and falling into a food-induced coma.
Leftovers are another great aspect of the holidays. Turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy twice a day, I could get used to that.
Catching up with old friends, spending time with loved ones and lounging on the couch in pajamas are among some of the top highlights of the holiday season. But they’re all a distant second to the delicious food associated with the last few weeks of the year.
With Christmas less than a week away, kitchens are being stocked with all the ingredients needed for a holiday feast. The countdown to vacation is on — and going painfully slow.
The fat guy is preparing to make his annual trip around the world to distribute gifts to the boys and girls who made his “nice” list. Lights adorn the outside of houses. And wrapped presents lay beneath decorated trees, tempting children and adults alike with their mysterious contents.
Religion aside, the end of the year is a time for celebration. So, enjoy yourself.
From all of us at the Chugiak-Eagle River Star, we wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.