Sunday, December 13, 2015

About those holiday letters...

Do you write an annual holiday letter and inflict it on family and friends? I do, mostly because I love to receive them. So many of my friends are far away, and reading their holiday letters is a way to keep up with their lives, with the events we never quite get around to talking about in our emails, infrequent phone calls, and even more infrequent face-to-face encounters.
The best holiday letters have always been those that include photos of the kids. Some of the kids are now in their fifties, but I've still got their baby pictures, their grade school class pictures, and even a few high school graduation portraits. There are even a few photos of kids I've never met, but they're still part of my extended family because their parents are.
One of my major regrets is that I didn't keep the letters that came with some of those photos. It never occurred to me until about ten years ago, the first Christmas after one of the letter writers died. She didn't write only holiday letters, but long, newsy missives all year long. Sadly I have only a couple of them, and I wish I'd kept them all. Now I do, even the electronic ones. But alas, so many of those don't include photographs.
My own holiday letter has been a webpage for several years now. I stopped sending physical cards (and letters) to nearly everyone on my Christmas card list when holding a pen became painful, due to arthritis. That's under control now, but I admit I really like both saving the cost of postage and not adding to the waste stream (for those of you who aren't aware, I tend to be a trifle passionate on the topic of reducing waste). Using a webpage gives everyone the option of ignoring it, although I hope no one will. It's also easier than sending out a b'zillion emails, which feels way too much like spamming. I figure if I tell the folks on a couple of lists, post to my Facebook page, and put it here, most of the people who might be interested in how I spent my year can go find out.
One thing I've spent quite a bit of time doing this past year, but isn't in my holiday letter, is trying new recipes. The Web is a fabulous resource, so much so that I am gradually reducing the size of my cookbook library. Here is one of the recipes I found, when I decided that all those kale stems were too tough for salad but too healthful to put into the compost bin. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to make, depending on whether you've stripped the stems for something else, or do so just for this recipe.
Sweet and Spicy Sautéed Kale Stems
2 teaspoons olive oil
10-12 kale stems, picked clean of the leaves and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
½ teaspoon sriracha
⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
Sea salt, to taste
Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Add the kale stems and onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until the kale stems have softened but still have a little crunch. Remove from the heat and stir through the soy sauce, honey or maple syrup, sriracha, chili flakes and season to taste with sea salt. Serve immediately.
I used maple syrup and the red-stem kale the first time I made this. Pretty!
So that's it for 2015. I wish you good health, good fortune, and good cheer for the rest of this year and ever after.

--from my grandmother's collection, ca. 1910.


Mary Thornburg said...

Hello, Jude!

I love your recipe this time... but I don't know what sriracha (sp?) is! We do use the stems, though, because I always cook the kale and include the stems, chopped up in half-inch lengths. Am pleased to say that I've been a kale fan since long before it became fashionable.

Have always wanted to send a Christmas letter, but never do because it would be either pitiful, deadly boring, or entirely fictional. Only send a few cards, to people who don't use computers, now that I've discovered Jacquie Lawson e-cards. Shall send you one in a few days.


Jana Richards said...

I used to send a Christmas letter, but lately it seems I'm so busy around Christmas I just don't have the time. But I miss not keeping in touch. Not sending a letter means not getting a lot of Christmas letters. Perhaps some day I'll go back to creating a letter, and maybe I'll put it on my FB profile instead of mailing it!

C.S. Fuqua said...

Enjoyed the post. We don't write holiday letters, mainly because none of our relatives would be interested (even if they could read!). We have, however, toyed with the idea of writing a letter filled with outlandish events just to see who believed the nonsense we'd put forth as truth. Maybe next year... Wishing you the best for the holidays and coming year.

Maryann Miller said...

I, too, love sending cards and holiday letters, bu also share your difficulty with writing by hand. Now even typing is becoming an issue. I may try your suggestion of doing a letter on my website this year. There is no way i am going to get cards out.

Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season.