Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Christmas ever (and what i learned from a botched loaf of bread, a cookbook, and a $7 t-shirt).

I have to admit Christmas Eve i was feeling a bit down, for some legit reasons and for some not-so-legit reasons. The legit reasons, i had not been able to spend as much time with a very important person on account of some different issues. The not-so-legit reasons, well i have to preface the not-so-legit reason with a little description of my family and one of our christmas traditions. Each year all the individual families in my larger collective family make or put together cutesy little creative gifts for the other families. Usually it is some sort of homemade holiday decoration or a favorite recipe with a little package of cooking utensils, something along those lines. I've never really participated in this tradition until last year when T-dub and I decided to give some of the red pepper jelly i had made, all wrapped up in cute bows and ribbons. So this year we decided to give a loaf of beer bread to everyone. I would make it and T-dub would wrap them up all cutesy again. Now the thing you gotta understand about beer bread is it is incredibly easy to make, pour some beer in a bowl of flour, sugar, and baking powder; put it in a bread pan; cook for 50 minutes; and you're done. No waiting for yeast to rise. No kneading. None of that. Mix and cook, that's it. After a little experimentation I had come up with a honey wheat beer bread that T and i both really liked, it's especially good toasted with an egg in the morning, so she bought stuff to wrap it and i started cooking. What i hadn't accounted for was that four loaves cook in the oven a little differently than two loaves, and well, i overcooked the first batch and undercooked the second batch.

Undercooked beer bread, still all doughy in the middle.

T had left for her family dinner and so i was left to head to my family's christmas eve dinner empty handed, no tasty delicious beer bread to share. I was feeling rather glum about it. To make things worse, when i got to the Flogger and the Artist's house, practically the first thing i saw upon entering the kitchen were three perfect loaves of bread that Reggie had made for dinner.
Family arrived, we had a great dinner, kids chased each other around the house and wiped their snotty noses all over their new toys, but i was missing T-dub and bugged that i had botched the beer bread (how's that for alliteration), so i went and sat down in a front room for a minute just to get a minute away from all the wonderful christmas spirit and enthusiasm (and partially to hide from the embarrassing fact that i didn't have any cute gifts to share with the rest of the fam). At this point each of the families had started distributing their presents and the artist and flogger's girls came in and put a book in my lap, wrapped in a pink ribbon. One look at the title and i was both ashamed and deeply saddened.

Here i was upset i had undercooked a couple loaves of bread when i suddenly felt the real tragedy of Bunny's loss. As i was sitting there starting to feel real grief my brother Luke came in the room to see how i was doing. Again, i felt a bit ashamed and deeply saddened. Here i was feeling the emptiness of Bunny's loss, and my brother, the one who deals with it on a daily basis, came in to check on how i was doing. He asked me how i was doing, said if i wanted to cry, he would cry with me because it was something he had gotten real good at over the holidays, and put his arms around me and gave me a big hug. Yes, we cried together, not the first time and i can't imagine it will be the last.

So i got up out of my pouty chair, followed my brother back into the room where the family was gathered, and enjoyed the time i had with my family because i can always make another batch of beer bread, but i won't be able to get back time with the one's i love, some of whom carry much deeper wounds than i.

Nieces dressed up for the nativity reenactment.

The next day T-dub was determined to make Christmas a great day and make up for the time we hadn't been able to spend together. At this point i should preface the rest of the story by saying neither of us is rich. We don't lack by any means, but we're not rich. As a result we had agreed to not get any big gifts, but to keep it simple. We exchanged stockings and a few other small gifts, and this is when i realized how amazing it is to have someone in my life who pays attention and knows the small things that make me happy. I couldn't help but smile when she handed me my stocking and i handed her the stocking i had for her, and they were stuffed with almost identical goodies.

Our Christmas stockings, both of them topped off with Amano chocolate and RJ's soft raspberry licorice.

As i pulled treats out of the stocking i also pulled out a small, wrapped gift. I unwrapped it and immediately got a little emotional again. T had got me a "Twenty12 Women's Professional Cycling" T-shirt. I know, i know, a t-shirt, right, and last-year's design on sale at that? Not that big of a deal, but for me it meant a lot. Again, it was an incredible indication of how much she listens and cares (we had talked about the t-shirts a few weeks earlier when we both saw a twitter about the team clothing on sale). It was also a meaningful indication that she wants me to be a part of this next endeavor of her life, and i couldn't be happier.

After exchanging gifts we put on our warm weather gear and went out for a little ride. Actually we planned a longer ride, but my chain broke, so by the time i got that fixed we had to cut it short, but nonetheless, it was great to get outside, ride in the sun, and wrap up a wonderful Christmas doing something we both love.

Overall our Christmas wasn't extravagant. It wasn't super fancy or full of expensive gifts. But it was wonderful, the best ever even, notwithstanding Bunny's absence, because it was marked by time spent with the people i love and simple gifts from the heart.

christmas ride with T-dub from matt bradley on Vimeo.


fatguyonalittlebike said...

Where's my bread?

matt b. said...

you're going to have to fight the chickens for it.