If I was a rich man…

27 12 2010

Christmas is all about traditions.

Since Katie and I got together, we’ve been creating our own Christmas traditions. Of course, the centerpiece of the day’s celebrations is the gargantuan family dinner at Katie’s parents, where more than 20 siblings, spouses, nieces, and nephews and whoever else has been embraced into their welcoming arms gather to exchange gifts, trade memories and chow down on a scrumptious feast. It’s boisterous, chaotic, a lot of fun, in other words, everything Christmas day should be.

Christmas day chaos

But Christmas eve is our time.

True to German custom, we exchange our gifts to each other on the night before Christmas. But first, we fill our bellies with our annual indulgence of rouladen, gravy, potatoes and brussels sprouts. That was one of my favorite dinners when I was growing up, and while it looks complex and involved, it’s really quite easy to make. And it’s pretty much foolproof, as long as you take care not to let the rouladen burn on the stovetop.

Christmas eve rouladen.

Our appetites sated, we gather (well, as much as two people can gather) around the tree, amidst the piles of colorfully-wrapped boxes, to begin exchanging gifts. We start with the parcel from my moms, which is always bursting with creamy Swiss and German chocolates and home-baked shortbread cookies. If the timing is right, and this year it was, my moms also happens to call just as we’re tearing into the brown wrapping around the box.

Preparing to open the Christmas parcel.

Then it’s on to the results of our own shopping frenzies.

Although we keep vowing this will be the year to get our gift giving under control, we never succeed. I think it’s because we both start so early as neither one of us cares for crazy busy shopping malls; that leaves a lot of time to just keep adding more and more gifts. Katie says she bought her first gift this year in the spring. I was a little slower off the mark; I didn’t get her her first present until late summer.

And while I didn’t score my much-desired 55-inch LED 3D tv (!!!!), I did get some great cycling-related gifts, including a warm and stylish Rapha winter hat, three issues of Rouleur magazine, an autobiography of Mark Cavendish, my annual roll of white handlebar tape (another of our newly-minted Christmas traditions), and a selection of Rapha soaps and salves. Katie says she got the latter as a bit of a smack-down to NYCbikesnob, who never misses an opportunity to take shots at some of Rapha’s more, er, esoteric products  in his irreverant blog.

I love my Rapha hat!

Coincidentally, Katie also benefitted from the bike snob, as I got her a necklace from an artisan who advertises her cycling-related jewelry on his blog.

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