I am such a Scrooge. I know I am not alone, all you other Scroogies out there. A childhood of two households meant several corresponding Christmas celebrations every year. Christmas lost its magic pretty darn quick. I love Thanksgiving. I love Valentine's Day, but Christmas?. Not so much. It seems that a lot of my issues with Christmas stem from the whole gift thing.

I wrack my brain for fun gift ideas, but usually miss on several counts every year. Its a battle keeping the number of gifts for each kid fair. This year I have the dilemma that one kid got very expensive snow board equipment which has already been used, where the other is getting a series of things that can be opened on the day. Am I gonna have at least one grumpy kid who forever thinks that he had a lousy childhood, that I loved his sister better than him? Yep.

I was on the phone with my sister the other day and suggested we just do presents for the kids this year. You know, with the economy and all. "Yea, that sounds good, but I already got your present," she said. Doh! K, so mental note: make the suggestion earlier next year.

And so, I scramble around, trying to keep the NPR piece I heard recently about a book called "Scroogenomics" out of my head. The book that suggests that buying people gifts is a very inefficient way to buy goods. People spend money more efficiently on themselves than they do on other people, with the exception of those that are closest to us. It amounts to tons of waste. More stuff to lug to Goodwill.

I've done my best to mitigate this waste in the lives of the people I love. A wine club for my father and stepmother, homemade cookies, jams, and other consumables, and for the rest, I try for practical gifts. I ask people specifically what they want. And like so many of us, leave it all till way too late. I dash to the mall, and after only an hour I have a headache. I go online, hunting out sites that deliver to Canada.

People ask me what I want, and I am always at a loss. I want for nothing. A Paperback is usually my answer. They don't believe me, but really this is the one present that never fails to make me happy.

And so, the things I do love about Christmas? They never seem to involve the presents. Its the tradition of smoked salmon and cream cheese for breakfast, the Tourtiere (a traditonal French Canadian meat pie) for Christmas Eve dinner (see recipe below) and that lazy time after all the presents have been opened when the kids are engrossed in playing with whatever they received and I am in slippers and a new sweater, flipping through my latest paperback with a giant cup of tea.

Baaaa Humbug.

There are a zillion versions of this, but this recipe works for me every year. Its almost better in left-over form.


* 1 lb ground pork
* 1/2 pound lean ground beef
* 2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
* 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) savory
* 1/4 (1 ml) ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
* 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
* Pastry Dough, top and bottom


1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to break meat into small pieces. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Roll out chilled dough, and cut two pieces for one 8-inch pie or 8 individual pie plates.
4. Line pie plate with one of pieces of pastry.
5. Fill generously with meat mixture.
6. Top with the other pastry and pinch edges together.
8. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown, serve hot.

Its great with Mango Chutney and a green salad.