I went home to my parents' house in Arkansas on Christmas Eve. It's just a quick hour drive from Memphis, so I arrived a couple hours before dinner. First things first, we let Datsun have his presents — a chew bone and a new dog bed. That way he'd have something to play with while we were visiting. (And yes, I do allow Datsun to have non-vegan chew bones). Most of my animals stay at home when I visit my parents, but my eldest dog Datsun and eldest cat Akasha (both 13 years old) get to come with me.
Then, my mama and I went to visit with my Me-Maw (mama's mama) and exchange gifts with her. We visited with her for awhile, and when we got back home, we got started on cooking dinner.
My daddy had seen a post on my blog a few weeks back about Kathy Hester's Drunken Sweet Potato BBQ from The Easy Vegan Cookbook, and he'd said he wanted to try it. Most years, on Christmas Eve, we drive around to every Chinese joint in Jonesboro looking for one that's open late. Since it's a fairly small town, it's tough to find a place that's open. This year, I figured we should stay in and cook dinner together, and it seemed like a good time to let my dad try the vegan BBQ. So my mama and I whipped up this dinner of Drunken Sweet Potato BBQ Sandwiches with Vegan Coleslaw, Baked Beans, & French Fries.
The grated sweet potatoes are slow-cooked in a yummy homemade BBQ sauce made with hard apple cider and bourbon. Both of my omnivore parents loved it and even declared it better than pork BBQ! Mama says she's going to start making this dinner often. Vegan win!
After dinner, we all drove over to my Granny's house (daddy's mama) to exchange gifts and visit. My great-aunt Carolyn and great-uncle Doug were there with their two adorable wiener dogs! I failed to get any pictures of anyone there except for this one of my dad in his Santa hat.
When we returned to my parents' house afterward, my mama and I heated up some of her AMAZINGLY MOIST Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake with vegan ice cream. (Mama, if you're reading this, I want this cake for my birthday next year).
Later in the night, I met up with my BFF Sheridan to exchange gifts. She lives in Little Rock, but we're childhood buds, and we both grew up in Jonesboro. So she was at her in-law's house.
She got me a squirrel nutcracker, Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Love Notes daily affirmation cards, an e.l.f. eyeshadow kit, and The Taco Cleanse!
And I got her Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg, some Leahey vegan gravy packets (Sheridan LOVES gravy), Soy Curls, the Vegan Bowls cookbook, some homemade chakra soaps, and some earrings made from beer cans.
After our gift exchange, I headed back to my parents' house and went straight to bed. The sooner you get to bed, the sooner Santa can drop off all those presents, right? Most years, my parents and I exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, because I typically have to drive to Nashville on Christmas morning to visit with Paul's family. But this year, Paul had to come home early, so I didn't go to Nashville. And I was able to stretch my holiday with my parents out longer. So we agreed to open gifts on Christmas morning.
But before any unwrapping, we had a leisurely Christmas morning breakfast. My mama made Tofu Scramble, Veggie Bacon, Biscuits & Gravy, and Hash Browns!
And then we got to work opening gifts! Lots and lots of gifts! Here's my mama with a Harley Davidson necklace from my dad. My parents are bikers, if you couldn't tell.
I got LOTS of great clothes from H&M (my new favorite store), a FitBit Charge HR (I've been using the FitBit One for a couple years, but this one is a step up because it measures heart rate), this adorable singing holiday squirrel, and so much more.
After presents, my mama took the tree down. She just can't wait every year to take it down! We hadn't even cleaned up the mess from unwrapping before she had all the ornaments packed away. We snacked on Sheridan's homemade vegan zucchini bread (another gift from her) and hummus and pita chips. Then I packed up my pets and my presents for the short drive home.
Once home, I had the house to myself for a bit. So I called around to Chinese places and found that my very favorite Chinese restaurant, New Hong Kong, was open until 11 p.m. on Christmas Day. I stopped by and picked up some New Hong Kong Special Fried Rice (with mock chicken, mock beef, and mock ham) and a Spring Roll. Who needs veggies when you can have mock meats?
I ate this in my PJs while binge-watching Lost and drinking Chimay — a fine way to end Christmas day if I do say so myself!