This year for Christmas Eve, we did something different. We had a "date day." No family gatherings, no resting by the fireplace and gazing at the tree, no last minute shopping or baking or wrapping. We went out together and had a wonderful day. First thing: we saw The Nutcracker. Neither of us had ever seen The Nutcracker, or been to see ballet, so it was something new.
We had an hour after the show and before dinner, so we wandered up to Market Square and then over to PPG Place where, for the first time ever, I saw the PPG Tree & Ice Rink (sadly closed because of the warm temperatures).
We turned a corner and saw some of the dinosaurs (in photo is Heinz Ketchup Triceratops, part of the DinoMite Days Project) and then we wandered into PPG Place Wintergarden and found holiday trees:
I loved how the Santa Beards swirled into the trees. We also saw the Gingerbread House Display & Competition:
So many gingerbread houses as well as trains and trolleys:
Then it was time to do something new (first time ever I've dined out on Christmas Eve) at one of our favorite restaurants (Butcher & the Rye):
Old Man Winter (Old Overholt Rye, Rosemary, Black Walnut Liqueur, Orange Bitters) for SP and Pampered Hellion (Buffalo Trace White Dog, Cocchi Rosa, Laird's White Lightning, Grapefruit Bitters) for me. We tried some new to us dishes, like this:
Rustic Bread (pan gravy / lard / black pepper / sage) and this dish:
Hand Pulled Burrata (plums / watercress / extra virgin olive oil / vincotto / pine nuts) and a daily special:
Crispy Octopus (fried panisse / sofrito / chickpea / lemon emulsion). We also enjoyed our usual favorites:
Crispy Pig Wing (thai chili sauce / pickled mango salad / peanuts / cilantro)
Brussels (brown butter / dill / parmigiano reggiano / preserved lemon aioli) (already mostly devoured by the time I took a photo)
Sunday Gravy (tomatoes / lamb neck / olive oil / ricotta / warm country bread)
Cauliflower (roasted farro grain / romanesco / baby carrots / pine nuts / brown butter / harissa yogurt)
Mac N Cheese (taleggio / fontina / goat cheese / cheddar / parmesan)
As usual the cocktails were superb, the food tasty, and the service wonderful.
Then we went home, put on pajamas, made tea, and opened presents before watching The Walking Dead.
I have fantastic memories of the Christmas Eve traditions from the first 22~25 years of my life. It was always at our house. For many years dad made spare ribs and mom made lasagna & a special plate of spaghetti for grandpa since he didn't like lasagna. Other years mom made Cornish hens for everyone. There were always dinner rolls that grandpa threw across the table at the grandkids. There were always homemade cookies (first from grandma and later from me). And there was always my brother's Cherries Jubilee that sometimes flamed and sometimes didn't. After dinner we often went to Christmas Eve church service.
But the only constant in life is that things change. Since my mid-20's, Christmas Eve has been different every year. Sometimes it was in OH, or KY, or GA, wherever my brother was living. Sometimes it was where I am living. Sometimes, in the pre-SP times, I was on my own. Sometimes we saw my grandparents, sometimes we didn't, and now grandma & grandpa are gone, as are Uncle W & Aunt G. Sometimes we're with one of our families or both of our families or none of them.
I would not at all mind repeating this year's Christmas Eve. SP truly is my best friend and I love spending time with him and only him. Sometimes it's really nice to just be you and your special someone on a holiday, like we were this year on Christmas Eve. Maybe that can be our new tradition for the next 22~25+ years of my life?
But I suppose where we are/what we do isn't nearly as important to me as long as I am with SP.