Within nine months of one another, we lost both my mother and father-in-law, leaving my husband and I without any living parents. Both of them would come to my house for Christmas each year. My father-in-law would stay with us for over a week, and we loved having him with us. My mother, because of her Alzheimer's Disease, would only come for the day, and even that became hard for her on her last Christmas.
Last year, with only my father-in-law with us, I decided to scale back on my Christmas. Instead of the mega shopping, the hours of wrapping, and the explosion of gifts under the tree, we each brought a $20 gift and played a game to see who would get each gift. My father-in-law loved it! We also had a bonfire with chili and hot dogs, no big meal to prepare. Everyone was happy.
So, finding ourselves very alone this year for the first time, we decided to change things again. We had our bonfire with chili and ham sandwiches on Winter Solstice with a gift exchange. Santa brought the girls a few presents on Christmas morning, but the entire event was MUCH smaller than years past. And much happier. Our new tradition was getting out of the house and going snowshoeing. It was beautiful!
We met a nice couple on the trail and wished them a Merry Christmas. We stopped for some hot tea and hot chocolate that I always carry along in my backpack. The woods was so peaceful and beautiful with snow hanging from the limbs of every tree.
Afterwards, it was time to get supper started. On the menu was roast lamb with roasted potatoes, cran-raspberry pineapple jello salad from Linda's Pantry, and vegetables and rolls. I love to cook, so this is not a huge event for me. My family loves lamb, and if you don't love it, or if you think that you don't love it, I encourage you to try this roast. It isn't as expensive as an entire leg of lamb, and if you are serving four or five, there won't be a lot of leftovers if everyone has just one serving. I worried that by starting at 4:00pm, we wouldn't be eating until 7:30pm, but then again….. we ate when we ate! It was actually done by 6:00pm.
I seasoned the boneless lamb roast with oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, a bit of cayenne pepper, rosemary, lemon juice and olive oil. That wet rub was slathered over the lamb on all sides and the roast was set on carrots to cook with onion around it. The roast was covered and cooked at 400 F for 30 minutes. The house quickly began to smell amazing! Then I added the potatoes and returned the roast to a reduced temperature of 325 F until the internal temperature was 150 F.
For the final 30 minutes of cooking, I removed the foil cover to let things brown up a bit, and after it was done, I let it rest for a good 15 – 20 minutes. We set the table, complete with Christmas crackers that have been our family's tradition for years. We love the silly hats and the jokes!
It was strange having a table set for so few, no kid's table needed this year, but our small group enjoyed the day. The hike in the afternoon left us hungry and ready for some good food!
The food was devoured! Even my kids liked the lamb (one more than the other) but there were so many other choices that if they didn't eat the lamb they could still fill up on potatoes, vegetables, rolls, and the jello salad.
I love our new holiday traditions! My adult and young children love them, too. There is no rushing around, no wrapping until the middle of the night, and much less stress. That leaves us with a lot more time to enjoy each other!
I hope that you enjoyed your holiday and that you also had an amazing Christmas meal!