It’s Christmas and I’m the Sous Chef

(Making Reubens with my son Doug and son-in-law Mike.)

Today is December 25th and Christmas is upon us. The distances that separate our family are gone. Sounds of laughter fill our home (actually my son’s home on the Wasatch front in Utah) where mothers and grandmothers caution good behavior – with limited success. For us, this time of year centers on important family traditions. Let me share two.

Food – the McGinns are all about the food. Whenever we get together the menu is a hot topic of discussion and food traditions are honored. This year I have been assigned the job of being the Sous Chef to my two sons. I think I actually assigned myself in a fit of giving. By definition a Sous Chef is (from my Google search): “Middle Management. You are between a rock and a hard place. You have a little power, but not all of it. You have a dash of authority, and maybe a pinch. Sometimes your chef will back you, and sometimes not. But your job is to back your chef, no matter what.” My children love to cook and even more they love to boss me around. This is the yin and yang of life – the balancing of a great many years of me running them around. You must understand however that my definition of Sous Chef involves me helping them in my way – not necessarily their way. So I guess I am not really a Sous Chef after all – I’m a Daddy Chef and they do their best to put up with me.

So here are a few of our favorite festive meals:

Reuben Sandwiches – a Christmas Eve meal tradition now four years old and introduced by Eldon and Abbey – dear friends who are family

Spare Ribs – Grandma McGinn’s special recipe – ribs slow cooked in tomato based sauce with a dash of vinegar - which Ninon has perfected

Trifle – a traditional Old English dessert – made with white cake, whipped cream, berries, and custard – all mixed together in a glorious melange

Turkey and all the trimmings is our Christmas Day dinner which is not complete without my mother’s dressing (stuffing) – simple and good

Open Food Session – any meal planned by one of the kids using a menu of their own choosing. This results in a cornucopia of interesting and highly delicious meals such as Black Pepper Mango Salsa Pork Chops, French Onion soup and Kristin’s “stewp” just to name a few.

At all times I run around, oversee the events, give advice, keep the schedule on track and generally make a nuisance of myself – that is helping in my way and I love it.

Number two is Gifts of Love. My sweet wife determined years ago that because this time of year is about the giving we ought to be giving on a higher plane. So she introduced gifts of love. Putting thought into giving is important - it’s really another way to say I love you. Christmas Eve we gather to record little gifts of love that we promise to give each other during the coming year. Ideally they have no monetary value. When the kids were little we had lots of “doing dishes” or “snow shoveling.” A common adult theme has been “advice about …” or “help blossoming.” Some become very creative like “Photoshop help,” or “wholesome activities” (given by my son Doug to Alec’s wife Kristin - it means no playing with knives and lighters with our grandkids), and “homemade haircut” (Kristin will cut Doug’s unruly hair and we will watch with glee).

I love these traditions. They become even more important as I get older. We live in a culturally diverse area with traditions from different lands and I have many friends with their own traditions that center around Christmas, Hanukah and even Kwanzaa. Love of family and friends and the spirit of giving seem to be common threads. I wish you all the best in this truly wonderful season - the best time of the year.

Thanks for helping me better serve our Real Estate community.

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