On the opposite end of the spectrum from the (joyfully frenzied) Christmas brunch at G's parents was dinner with my mom. My sister and her boyfriend stopped in for a few hours en route to St. Thomas over Christmas. We had a nice, very quiet visit with them at the house. We had a non-traditional menu of all-Vietnamese food (at my and my sister's request). I loved it. Everything was so bright, fresh and flavorful.
Crispy, golden spring rolls with fresh lettuce and herbs.
Steak and watercress salad with a bold and zesty fish sauce dressing.
The light and spicey dishes paired well with the Champagne we brought.here.)
Han A Rum, aka Hmart in Fairfax). The awkward and cheesy decorations on this thing gave it away as an Asian creation. (Asians aren't really good with sweets or baked goods--can I say that?)
Check out the Christmas cake server. Hilarious! My mom is so cute.
Then we sat down for some tea and to open the small gifts we got one another. Again, we do not like the practice of giving a ton of ancillary gifts; we prefer simple gestures. The emphasis is simple--uncomplicated, inexpensive, and hassle-free.
We gave my mom a bunch of stuff I got in China (on various trips), including a fancy silk table cloth and table accessories. We received gift cards and the guys got funny ties and sox. Sister and boyfriend gave us Israeli wine.
They gave me this thing. It's pretty...and going in the regift bag.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful; I do appreciate the effort. But I actually don't like gifts or "stuff" to clutter up my house. Is that weird? I really enjoyed the time my family spent together. My mom was so happy to have her two girls and new son-in-law home, along with, what she hopes, is a long-term relationship for her younger daughter. And as sappy as it sounds, I'd trade a million gifts for quiet time and good food with the family (mainly because I love food and dislike stuff).