Nothing says grown up like cooking a ham

By: Lauren Weber, Placer Herald Associate Editor
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This Christmas, I will play hostess. Since my fiancé Alex and I purchased our first home a few months ago, we thought hosting Christmas would be a great way to make our house feel like home and a wonderful way to bring both of our families together. So, over the last few weeks we’ve been preparing: planning the menu, decorating the tree, hanging the lights, organizing the office/ guest room and figuring out how to seat 15 people at our four-person kitchen table. To me, hosting a holiday dinner, epitomizes being grown up. When I was younger, my sister and I always helped my mom and grandma in the kitchen – we’d happily roll out the Pillsbury dough for crescent rolls (not without sneaking a taste ourselves), we’d whip the cream to top the pie and we’d set the table with mom’s best china and silver. But despite all the help I gave in the kitchen, I’ve never cooked a ham or made a sweet potato dish from scratch, so this Christmas will prove to be an adventure. Luckily I can follow a recipe pretty well and will have plenty of help from family. One of the things that I remember most about the Christmas season are the traditions. One of the traditions my family has on Christmas morning, is heating up some Sara Lee coffee cake, while opening presents. Hosting Christmas at our house, Alex and I wanted to keep many of the traditions alive, but also incorporate our own. This didn’t pan out to be such an easy task. It took three trips to different grocery stores in Rocklin and Roseville to find the coffee cake – apparently others may have this tradition as well. And when I finally found it, afraid it would be gone if I waited too long, I picked up three of them and I’m convinced it will be well worth it, come Christmas morning. Since we’ll be having about 15 people at our house for the holidays, we decided to adopt a new tradition this year from my future brother in law – hiding the pickle ornament in the tree. The first one to find the ornament gets to start off the gift opening. We thought this was a cute way to start Christmas morning, and when we came across a pickle ornament during our holiday shopping, we thought, “why not.” Another tradition Alex and I started last year has gotten a lot of laughs from our friends and family. Each year we pick out the gaudiest, silliest ornament we can find and give it to each other. The only rule is it can’t be homemade, but we’ve come across some that are definitely in the running for this year. We hang them on our “Charlie Brown” tree and explain it to guests when they see the “special” ornaments hanging from the tree. No matter how silly or simple the tradition, holidays are full of them. They’re what I remember and look forward to most during the holidays, most of all because they’re done with friends and family. This year, although we had to borrow a dining room table and serving dishes for the feast, and will be crossing our fingers the cat doesn’t knock over the tree (as he’s done the last two years), it will be a welcome change to host Christmas at our home, with the start of new traditions.