My family has two main Christmas traditions. The first is going to see a movie on Xmas afternoon, after the presents have been opened, admired, and left on the coffee table for a reasonable amount of time. I’m not sure when this cinematic pattern developed, but we’ve been seeing a holiday movie for as long as I can remember (i.e., for at least the last ten years. HA HA @ my faulty memory!). I suspect that this tradition’s origins lie in suburban Minnesota’s dearth of other suitable activities; not much is open on Xmas day, save gas stations and Showplace, and it’s too cold to do much outdoors.* This year, we saw True Grit and ZOMG: if you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing and drive quickly to a theater! It was so good that I am certainly going to see it again. Those of you who know my stance on Movie-Watching As Pastime know that this attests to the movie’s solidity.
Our other tradition is, appropriately, food-related. On Christmas morning, we’ve never eaten cereal or poached eggs, oatmeal or grits — no! None of that. We always make a Dutch Baby, domed, golden, and heavily dusted in powdered sugar. For those who’ve never had the pleasure of eating a Dutch Baby, know that the dish is prepared by pouring batter into a heated cast iron skillet into which approximately one stick of butter has been melted. The batter is baked for approximately 40 minutes; when the skillet is pulled from the oven, you have a beautiful pancake-popover hybrid on your hands. There’s nothing like it.
The only fluid aspects of our Christmas breakfasts are the incidentals — beverages, condiments, and sides. Sometimes, we have fruit salad instead of sectioned grapefruit. Sometimes, we have breakfast meats. Once my sister and I came of age (drinkin’ age, that is!), we added mimosas to the menu. This year, inspired by a delectable drink I’ve had several times at Zazie, I suggested grapefruit juice mimosas. Ali pitched the idea of peach Andre instead of extra dry, and the Nectar of the Gods was delivered to our table.
Yes, in the Garklavs’ canon of tradition, the Dutch Baby signifies Christmas just as much as any fir tree or wreath or gaggle of ragamuffin youth caroling door-to-door. For this reason — and perhaps because of the vast quantities of butter involved — the Dutch Baby comes but once a year, on the heels of St. Nick.
*Unless you’re a real go-getter, which we aren’t.