Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Monday, January 2, 2012

I survived *The Holidays* '11

Hey people.   Behold, the fruits of my labor.  Literally.  This was the main ingredient in the ~broiled grapefruit~ I made for Christmas brunch.  It was insanely good.

Insanely because no one in their right mind would spend over an hour meticulously peeling this amount of grapefruit, ridding it of every molecule of fibrous membrane.  Perhaps if you were a Kardashian you'd be rich enough to pay someone to do this, or sadly there are probably places in the world where slaves could be forced to perform this task, but it is so tedious there would be a high risk of saliva winding up in your food.  But it was good, and the entire time I was preparing it I just thought about how much the people I was making it for would probably enjoy it.

Another sort of fancy thing I made was ~clementine granita~, which is basically shaved ice, made from clementine juice.  It was super nom.  Took a while to juice a whole crate of clementines by hand, but it was really good.

I made deviled eggs, which I thought was sort of funny considering the holiday-- but sinful or not everyone loves them.  I tried to fancy them up a bit too by crackling the shells and soaking the eggs in food coloring for a while before peeling.  Kind of a cool effect.

Basically I tried pretty hard this year folks.  I swore I would avoid the negativity that usually permeates this time of year for me, and try to keep a good attitude and make things nice for everyone else who is actually into it.  I decorated the place up-- even my self up.

Dan put some cool trees he made out of upside-down tomato cages outside and they looked awesome.

We cleaned our butts off and I got out a bunch (although not all believe it or not) (I could decorate a Macy's if I ever wanted to) of our Christmas decorations.

I planned ahead and got all my shopping done on time, and cooked a bunch of stuff the day before.

By the time the actual two-day event rolled around I was pretty wiped-out, but still keeping my good attitude.  I only had about another week to get through until normal life could resume.  I could do this!  And everything looked really nice (if you are into this kind of thing)!

I took all thes pics right before my family showed up because seriously-- our house never looks like this.  Yes people who know me in RL-- this is what my cocktail and dining table look like when not entirely covered with papers, and computers, and art stuff, and jewelry making supplies, random shipping boxes, and cat beds, etc etc.

Then Dan, who-- to be fair had been also working his butt off preparing for the holidays, and is only slightly more into it than me-- goes, "Yep, take all your little pictures because that's what we're all about; putting on a show."

That one sort of hit me in the gut.  I was trying like mad to make everything nice for my guests, but I guess it was all a little fake.  I never know where that line is and I get really conflicted and down on myself about it.  Like (admittedly this will sound a bit nuts to many of you)-- I know for a fact that if I smile real big and act super nice to someone, odds are that will create a good feeling in them towards me and they will react favorably.  They'll smile back, be nice to me, be more likely to help me out, etc etc.  So if I use that knowledge, does that make me an asshole sort of?

The answer is if you're just doing that to be manipulative-- yeah, pretty much.  But it's almost never that cut and dried.  I could analyze stuff like this to death.  Was I being a big phony?  I still am not sure.  I didn't hate it but I certainly didn't think it was *fun* either.  I was happy to do it for them, but then again...  (~loop of endless tormenting rumination~)

So anyway, Christmas brunch went great.  My family had a nice time.  We had fun playing cards and opening gifts after we ate and I really did like that part of it all.

But after it was still gnawing at me-- that comment about "putting on a big show", because preparing for guests or events at my house when I was a kid was seriously a nightmare, and I swore I'd never duplicate that in my adult life.  Once, when the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of our first guest, my sister ceremoniously shouted, "Smiles everyone!  Smiles!" like Mr. Roark on Fantasy Island.  She got away with it because people were literally on our doorstep.  It was hilarious, and extremely telling.

Later that night, too late to actually act on it, I had a great idea-- riding our bikes around on the quiet darkened streets of town looking at lights and just taking a beat, doing something *just us*.

Next year I'm going to still try to have a good attitude and all that, but also try to not lose myself and Dan so much in the process.  It shouldn't feel like putting on a big show.  It shouldn't be something I *manage to get through*.

Maybe by the time I'm 50 I'll figure all this crap out.  Oh well.  I had very little time to reflect on it because the very next day my sister and her kids hit town and it was Christmas Part Deux-- the sequel.

This also involved a trip to the north shore which will be the topic of my next post.  How did you guys all fare?


Maery Rose said...

Emotional as usual, but I actually like the decorating part, especially this year with it being so bland outside. I liked the holiday colors and lights to brighten things up a bit.

When you first started out showing the food and decor, all I was thinking was "That Sue! She puts creativity and her personal touch into everything. How cool!" And I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of how you are so good at that. But that's because that talent would give me pleasure to be able to have such ideas and creativity. But if that's not how it makes you feel, then I wouldn't do it. Or was it just the comment that made you feel it wasn't real?

Karen said...

If your house doesn't normally look like that, then it is absolutely a picture moment - to record for posterity! I don't think it's about putting on a big show, it's a "ta da" moment to celebrate.

pseudosu said...

The comment mostly, but I'm not sure, that's the problem. I think if I did the same thing next time, but maybe insisted on only celebrating christmas twice-- once with Dan's side and once with mine (instead of 3 times), and made sure there was something in there that was really fun and special for Dan and I, not just tons of work for others, even if I felt good about doing it, it would even things out a little. Make it less of a drain.

Karen-- I like the ta-da moment idea. People (the guests) do like that I think. It IS supposed to be a celebration after all. I am still trying to figure out a way to do this all OUR way-- not driving ourselves crazy and getting in horrible moods because of all the work, and having parts of it be really just for us, in addition to making it special for guests. :)

Lynn Fisher said...

Wow...the house really did look stunning. There's nothing wrong with wanting to, every once in a long while, make things look nice and feel proud of yourself..why not! : )
...and broiled grapefruit...gotta get that recipe...YUM!!!

pseudosu said...

Thanks Lynn-
Broiled grapefruit ='s grapefruit + heat (broiler) sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Devour, unless annoying fibrous membranes get in the way and ruin your enjoyment of it.

irishk said...

I think part of Christmas is giving and reflecting on the good things in our lives. Entertaining family in your home is part of that. It is your gift to them and a sign of your love. It is putting on a show in a sense, but lots of things are. It doesn't make it wrong...but kind of like making ourselves look the best we can for certain life events. We all have to put on our best act at times. I am impressed with the effort you put into this and I bet you created moments of joy for those you hold dear. It all looked awesome!

Leigh Anne Farrell said...

I have Christmas at my house now, because Mom and Nancy live in GM and daughter lives in Iowa. It was really nice to get to see your house, it reminded me of all the great Christmases we had sitting around the fireplace and around that beautifully decorated table. Thank you for sharing, Sue!