Chocolate Peppermint Trifle…made with l♥ve by the Cookie Mama.

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The Christmas Eve treat and snack station

Merry Christmas all!  This past week has been filled with culinary eats and treats.  We host Christmas Eve at our house for the family, so I did a lot of  food prep and cooking.  I chose to feature this trifle though, as many of the other eats and treats I made, have already been written about.  I usually make a few different desserts for the Christmas Eve celebration, and this year was no different.  In addition to the trifle, I made candy bar brownies, pumpkin pies, and I also bought some Christmas themed M&M’s …plain and peanut.  Also, my Kimmy brought over some delicious cookies that she baked, so we had a ton of desserts to choose from.  In past years, I have made a gingerbread trifle that got rave reviews.  After a few years of making it though, I decided to switch it up and make a new trifle.  For starters I love love love my trifle bowl.  It is beautiful.  My Mom bought it for me when Dan and I first started hosting Christmas Eve, so I especially love to use it at Christmas. I also really love the look of a trifle….the individual layers are so pretty!  A few months ago, I decided to do a little research for a new trifle recipe, and came across this one.DSCN6439  It seemed really simple, and I had all the ingredients in the house.  There are three separate layers; brownies, chocolate peppermint pudding, and whipped cream sprinkled with candy cane bits…YUM.  The only substitution I made to the recipe was that I chose not to color the whipped cream pink.  I left it white and it was just as pretty.  Everyone loved the trifle and I would definitely make it again.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used:  http://www.thecookingmom.com/chocolate-peppermint-trifle/

As I mentioned above, we host Christmas Eve for the family, and it is always a good time. This year was no different, but I regret to admit that something was missing for me.  I have thought about it a lot, and I still cannot make sense of the feeling.  In retrospect, we did all the things we normally do, and kept all of our fun traditions. We had “gingerbread day” (one of my favorite days of the whole year), we ate breakfast with Santa, we took pictures by the huge Christmas tree in town, we made Christmas cookies and ornaments, and we sang Christmas carols as we drove around the village, sipping cocoa, and looking at all the Christmas lights and decorations. Further, we got snow…something that was definitely missing last year.  I love love love a white Christmas, so I was happy to see the snow fall.  So what gives??  What’s missing??  I am still uncertain.  All I know is that this year didn’t feel the same.

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Holly Days 2011

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Holly days 2008

I had to skip “Holly Days” this year, the first time in seven years, as I had my stupid surgery the same week.  That usually helps kick-start the holidays in our house, but I don’t think that’s the reason for my feelings.  I missed my Mom of course, but I always miss my Mom.  I miss her everyday, not just on Christmas.  I am sure that contributed, but I don’t think that was the sole reason either.  Also, this was our first Christmas without our beloved Merlin, and I know that really had an impact. As a family we were pretty sad about his absence.  When we had to say good-bye to him a few weeks ago, we’d already hung his stocking, and purchased him some treats for Christmas.  We left his stocking up, and gave his treats to our other furry baby,  Abby.  Again, I know this contributed, but was it the sole cause?  I am not sure.  Growing up, I can remember my Mom saying things like, “…I am glad it’s over” in relation to some big events like holidays or weddings, and I never understood what she meant.  Maybe this is exactly what she meant.  Maybe sometimes (like me) she went through the motions, and did all the things we normally did, but never really “felt” it.  Maybe some years are just like that.  I know this year was.  I also know that I am not alone in this feeling.

A few days ago, I was speaking to a good friend on the phone and he/she admitted that he/she felt the same way this year.  I am being intentionally cryptic here.  I will not reveal his/her identity as he/she also felt weird about his/her lackluster Christmas spirit.  I must admit that hearing that he/she felt that way, made me feel better.  It also made me feel better when reflecting upon my Mom’s admission of feeling that way sometimes.   Maybe some years are just like that.  Maybe there is no one reason why.  Maybe it’s a combination of things.  I mean when I look at it logically, it makes sense.  I was missing my Mom and my Merl.  I was still sad about the Connecticut tragedy, and thinking a lot about those families, and how terrible their Christmases must have been.   I was thinking that Dan and I had to tell our kids something about it, as I am sure they will hear about it once back at school.  Additionally, a good friend lost her Grandfather right around Christmas, and I was sad for her. She was coming to Michigan to visit with him for the holidays, and he died while she was on the flight here. So instead of spending the holidays here with him, she spent it at his funeral.  I must also admit that I was a bit worried about my good friend and business associate who was in Egypt. Thankfully she is back in Michigan now and had a great trip.  So in retrospect, there were a lot of things at play for me.  Unfortunately, this year, my Christmas spirit took a hit in lieu of all of those things.  I am not angry or resentful about it though.  I mean it is what it is.  That was my reality this year so I accept it.  I guess I just wanted it to be different.

So what should I do now? What does anyone do when things don’t work out how we hoped?I guess the only thing to do is carry on.  keep-calm-carry-on-union-jackKeep moving forward.  Here’s what I won’t do.  I won’t turn into a “Grinch.”  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that movie, but I have no desire to actually live like a “Grinch.”☺  I also won’t spend a ton of energy trying to figure it all out.  I will simply chalk it up to a combination of things, and hope that next year is better.  I will also be sure to count my blessings, as I am still very much aware of them despite my lack of holiday cheer.  This sentiment reminds me of Great Britain’s motto of “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I love love love that thought.  Based on my research, the motto was developed around 1939 by England’s Ministry of Information, and then produced by His Majesty’s (King George VI) Stationery Office.  It was the third in a series of morale boosting posters that were posted across the British Isles during World War II.  This particular motto of “Keep Calm and Carry On” was apparently never seen by the public, as it was to only be used if and when Germany invaded Great Britain.  Since that never actually happened, the posters weren’t seen by the public, and were thought to have been destroyed.  Reportedly, a few posters did survive, and 60 years later were found in some old books purchased at an auction.  If you know me, then you are well aware of my love of “all things British.”  This is no exception.  I especially love that this simple thought and phrase is still pertinent all these years later.  So in homage to that sentiment, that is exactly what I will try to do.  I will “keep calm” and not get all “mental” over the way I feel, and I will “carry on” and do all the things that my family loves to do.  Hopefully whilst “keeping calm and carrying on,” I will run straight away into my old Christmas spirit.  If I am successful  it will be BRILLIANT!   If not, then at least I can take solace in counting my blessings.  I hope everyone had a “Happy Christmas,” and I wish you all a healthy,happy, and prosperous 2013.  Cheers! ♥

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Me, Dan, and “Queen Victoria” at Buckingham Palace ~ 2002

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About THE cookie mama

I am not professionally trained in any way shape or form, BUT I come from a long line of really great cooks. I learned mostly by watching my parents and grandparents, and then replicating what they did. I love love love to cook and bake, and I love to share what I make with "my people."
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