Our Christmas tradition dates back to my senior year in high school. My dad was an Air Force pilot and left to go overseas in support of Operation Desert Storm just a few days before Christmas. Not wanting to cook a big dinner for just the three of us left in town, my mom made plans for us to go eat at the dining hall on base. They were having a big holiday dinner with all the trimmings, and we wouldn't have to do any of the cooking or cleaning. What could be more perfect?
We woke up Christmas morning, though, and none of us really felt like going to eat dinner with a bunch of random people we might or might not know.
My mom started hunting through the freezer and found three steaks. It was too cold in Oklahoma to put them on the grill outside, but the stovetop had a grill insert to cook them indoors. We threw a few potatoes in the oven and had a nice relaxing Christmas dinner at home with just the three of us.
Ever since then steak and baked potatoes has seemed like a perfect Christmas dinner. It's special enough to be a holiday meal, and it doesn't require me to be in the kitchen for hours.
Years later, when Lauren was not quite a year old, she spent a few weeks of December hospitalized in Philadelphia. I had almost resigned myself to spending Christmas away from home when the doctors decided that she was stable enough to go home. Tim's family had come to visit for the holidays and were staying in Virginia with Addison and Brennan. As we left the hospital on Christmas Eve, I called them with directions to the grocery store and instructions to get steaks for all of us. It would have been a special Christmas without my traditional steak dinner, but it was even more special to be back at home and able to host dinner for my guests.
Last Christmas the steak dinner story came around full story. Tim was deployed to Afghanistan, and I was faced with making plans for the four of us staying here in Tucson. We had lots of dinner offers, but I'm a traditionalist at hear -- we stayed at home and grilled steaks.
Addendum: My dad was visiting last week, and I was telling him about how the steak dinner tradition started. He knew that my mom, my sister, and I usually serve steaks for Christmas, but he didn't really know why. I reminded him of the year he deployed just a few days before Christmas. For all these years, I assumed he spent his Christmas Day on an airfield in the Middle East. He confessed that he was actually in Hawaii. Perhaps it's a good thing we didn't know that when we were grilling steaks indoors because it was so cold in Oklahoma.
For most of the past year I've been sharing a "Years Ago" story as I've been Blogging through the Alphabet. There are so many stories left to share that I've started over again. This time I'm linking my posts with Kristi at The Potter's Hand Academy.