Wow. Christmas 2017 is over and done with, y’all. It came, it saw, and it definitely conquered. It always feels like a whirlwind, the holiday season, doesn’t it? There is so much anticipation and build-up that when it’s over you almost can’t even remember what happened. As a kid you don’t realize all of the back-end work that goes into creating Christmas magic. It’s all seamless and beautiful and wonder-filled. You don’t see the late nights wrapping, the hard work in the kitchen, and the stressful teeth gritting at dinner hoping your crazy great Aunt doesn’t set off a five-alarm family disaster after one too many glasses of eggnog. You just see the good stuff. And then you grow up and become a parent and see it all.
And that, my friends, is the circle of life.
This year, I wanted our Christmas experience to be just a little bit different than the past. Just a little bit more alive. Just a little bit better. This year I made a vow to be present for each and every moment. Already blissfully distraction-free, I pared down even further, not wanting to miss a thing. This year, I wanted to feel all the feels and see all the sights and just BE with my family, even if that meant feeling (and I mean really feeling) all of the rough parts.
And it was different. I purposefully took a break from blogging. I hopped off the train of social media (where I’m already a wonderfully pared down version of my past self–existing solely to promote BurntToast, no longer to frame my life with IG worthy pics). I put my phone completely away, glancing only a few times a day to make sure that there were no major disasters.
And instead we watched Christmas movies. We baked cookies. We set up an old model train and made a village of Legos. We read books, a ton of books. We cuddled on the couch and spent time doing…..NOTHING.
I got to watch the season unfold in the eyes and hearts of my children from an unobstructed front-seat view. I got to see them build-up to a morning that is arguably the best morning of the entire year. I got to see them plan and hope and, oddly, practice their Christmas morning excited face (for hours). And most importantly, I got to see them begin to understand that the reason why we celebrate is not for the presents (though they’re great), it’s not for the carols, and it’s not for the ham. No, the reason why we celebrate is because on Christmas Day two thousand years ago love came down and took its place among us in the most radical act of grace the world will ever know.
In other words, they’re beginning to really understand Jesus. And I think that’s awesome.
There aren’t many pictures to look back on of this holiday. I didn’t really get the chance to snap any FB pics to wish the world a Merry Christmas. We forgot to get family photos this year. We didn’t do Christmas cards. Who knows if I’ll remember all of the little moments. The world definitely wasn’t privy to them.
But I’m hoping I remember how it feels. What life feels like when you actually live it just for the moment. Not for gain. Not for show. But for love. Love of the people around you. Love of the grace that makes the moments happen. And love of the life you’re living, the here and now.
So now, after all is said and done, the only thing Christmas has left us with is a bunch of memories and enough leftovers to feed a small army. We were able to pull together a fabulous feast this year. We had all of the usuals–turkey, sweet potatoes (yes, my famous sweet potatoes were once again the star of the show. Get the recipe here), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pie (yes, my husbands famous Pumpkin Pie. Recipe here), and of course, the HAM. A big glorious glazed ham that is moist, delicious and perfect for the meal, mainly because everyone knows a ham is ridiculously easy to bake. And unless you are actually feeding a small army, hams always leave a copious amount of leftovers. Which are great up until a point. And that point is usually about 4 days out when you can’t possibly stomach one more ham sandwich.
And that’s where this recipe comes in. Giving credit where credit is due, this is my brothers recipe. He is, by far, the best cook I have ever met. Working his way through college in the restaurant biz, he was schooled in the kitchens of some of Baltimores finest. And it shows. He’s the kind of cook that is frustrating for other cooks because it’s effortless when he throws meals together. There is no recipe. There is no plan. But what happens is magic.
So when he offered up this recipe I was so excited, not only because I knew it would be amazing, but also because I knew the world needed to know some of his cooking goodness. This soup is simple, easy and quick and will take the ham you are so tired of looking at and eating and transform it into a soul-soothing spicy bowl of goodness. Once again, you’ll have enough to feed a small army. But this is a leftover you won’t get tired of. It’s addicting. It’s warming. You’ll crave it until there isn’t a drop left.
So, friends, I hope your Christmas was wonderful like ours. I hope you got to spend it with friends and family and that you got to really slow down and live in the moment. I hope that you felt love and magic and joy in each and every day. And I also hope that you fed yourselves well and have ham to spare for this recipe. Cheers to Christmas 2017 and on to the excitement that is 2018 to come!
Curried Ham and Lentil Soup
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 5 carrots, peeled and diced
- 5 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped
- 3 cups (or whatever you have left) cubed leftover ham
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cartons chicken stock
- 1 16 oz bag of lentils
- Step 1 Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large stock pot.
- Step 2 Once shimmering, add onions, carrots and celery to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat until sweating and translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Step 3 Turn the heat down to medium and add curry powder, thyme, oregano and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Heat, 3 or 4 minutes until fragrant.
- Step 4 Add ham and stir thoroughly to coat in spices.
- Step 5 Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Step 6 Once boiling, add in the lentils and reduce to simmer.
- Step 7 Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender to your liking.
- Step 8 Season with salt and pepper to taste and Serve!