I realize I am a few days late, but better late than never! I don’t automatically assume all my readers celebrate Christmas but I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few pictures of how we usually do things in my family. As you can see, we really, really, really like to bake cookies.

Every year, my mom makes these chocolate bonbons and these German gingersnap cookies called lebkuchens, which you can see in the first three pictures. I am sorry to say that NOBODY likes eating the bonbons or the lebkuchens, but my mother continues to make them for tradition’s sake because it seems my great-grandmother and grandmother made these every Christmas.  That’s all fine and well, but the tradition will end with my mother. When it comes time for me to host Christmas, these will be disappearing from the Christmas menu!

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I want to make cookies that my guests will actually eat! So I’m starting a new tradition: make cookie alternatives people will actually like. Because my sister was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease last year, she can’t eat anything that has gluten so I asked her for some tasty, gluten free cookie recipes. (She can’t eat the bonbons and lebkuchens so it seemed like the perfect excuse to make new cookies!) I made these chocolate chip-pecan cookies and sugar cookies. I’ll admit, before my sister’s diagnosis I was one of those people who kind of turned up their noses at gluten free recipes. However, I can confirm that gluten free baking is really not that hard and the end result is always delicious!

(At least, the USA has its act together when it comes to gluten free recipes. I’m sorry to say Europe is very behind when it comes to accommodating people with gluten dietary restrictions–we had some rather hilarious encounters in restaurants this past summer in France when my sister had to explain to waiters what exactly she could eat and could not eat.)

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Some of the decorations in our living room and our traditional French Nativity scene. Each little figurine is called a santon in French and are typically hand-made in Provence. My parents received the santons as a wedding gift 30 years ago. The only one my parents had to replace was the Baby Jesus. My sister and I loved playing with the Nativity when we were younger and we eventually rubbed off all the paint off the face of Jesus, so we had to get a new one.

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Our Christmas dinner table and the food. Foie gras, salmon, and pate as hors d’oeuvres. Goose served with onion, mushrooms, and prunes (which I didn’t get a picture of), sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and stuffing. And for dessert a buche de Noel (yule log) my father made from scratch! He also served it with creme anglaise, which is a type of custard cream. My father also made his traditional little Santa he sculpts out of leftover dough. This year, he made a rather large Santa head which we thought was hilarious.

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We all liked the gifts we received, but I think the most enthusiastic member of our family was our dog Milou (yes, after the Milou in the Tintin comics). As a last minute gift for him, my mom bought him a stuffed animal of the puppet Lamb Chop (from the popular American PBS children’s show Lamb Chop’s Play Along which aired in the 90s). I thought it was a dumb idea, but Milou absolutely loved it. Lamb Chop did not leave Milou’s side all of Christmas Day. By that night, all the stuffing had fallen out and we had to remove the squeaker because Milou had started to eat it.

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Milou is a bichon frise, in case you are wondering (not a poodle). Oh and the last picture? Entirely not posed. Milou really did throw up Lamb Chop on the top step there on his own and just kind of stood there, practically begging for a photo op! Such a ham, as always.

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel and Happy New Year/Feliz Ano Nuevo/Bonne Annee to all my readers!