On Christmas Eve, around 3 p.m., I made the hour drive to my parents' house in Jonesboro, Arkansas. And lo and behold, when I walked in the door, my mama said, "I made a vegan cheeseball." Magic to my ears! I hauled my presents and luggage in and headed straight for the cheese plate. This Vegan Cranberry Cheeseball was made with Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya cheddar, as well as nuts, onions, cranberry sauce, and spices. It was wonderful, and I ate a fair share before dinner and throughout the weekend.
After snacks, we headed out to grab some real dinner. We typically eat out for Christmas Eve dinner, but since Jonesboro is a small town, it's always a struggle to find places that are still open for dinner on the holiday. Generally, there are a handful of Asian places open though. We settled on Chin Chin Express, an Asian fusion takeout place with both Chinese and Japanese options. There are a few tables, so we opted to dine in, but my Stir-Fried Vegetable Udon was still served in a takeout box. Perfect since it was way more than I could eat at once.
We split an order of Vegetable Spring Rolls too.
After dinner, we headed back to their house for presents! Most years, we open gifts on Christmas Eve, and this year was no exception. My mom's Christmas tree is in a weird place by the front door, so instead of gathering around the tree, we pulled up a fireplace on Netflix and opened gifts in front of the TV.
It's just the three of us — me, mama, and daddy — so mama put me in charge of handing out gifts. She made me wear the Santa hat.
Here's my mama with one of her gifts from my dad — new cowboy boots. She LOVES boots.
My badass biker dad got some new sunglasses that are made for motorcycling.
I got lots of new clothes, a FitBit Surge (more on that in a few), a cool vintage squirrel nut bowl, some locally made vegan soaps, sheets for our bed, and more! After gifts, my mama broke out her famous Peanut Butter Pie! This creamy pie is made with a base of peanut butter, CocoWhip, and vegan cream cheese. It sits in a graham cracker crust and is topped with chocolate ganache and peanuts. It's a favorite of both my dad and me!
We watched some TV while I waited for my best friend Sheridan to finish up gifts with her family. Sheridan lives in Little Rock now, and I'm in Memphis. But we both grew up in Jonesboro, and we've been best friends since the 7th grade. We're always both home for the holidays, so we get together for about an hour on Christmas Eve night.
Sheridan FINALLY finished up with her large family around 11 p.m., and I headed over to her husband Drew's dad's house, where she was busy making homemade vegan cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. Here's me, Sheridan, and Drew.
Drew had made some Vegan Rum Balls, so we snacked on those and drank some spiked vegan almond nog.
And then we exchanged gifts! Sheridan always gifts me a loaf of her amazing Vegan Zucchini Bread. It's sooooooo good. Paul and I fight over it every year. This year, since he was with his family, I got first dibs. Sheridan also gifted me a crystal healing book and a mermaid pillow!
I went back to my parents' house around 1 a.m. and immediately went to bed. Then I got up Christmas morning and went out for a short run to test my new FitBit Surge! This is FitBit's only GPS watch, and it's amazing. I've been using a FitBit Charge HR (and a FitBit One before that), and they were great devices, but neither gave a read-out of current pace. The Surge does, and it's just what I needed! After a workout, it gives a summary with average heart rate and pace and mileage as well.
While my dad slept in and I ran around the neighborhood, my mama and me-maw went to church. So after my run, my dad and I sat around and waited for them to return so we could eat Christmas brunch. We always have a big breakfast, but this year, since Christmas fell on a Sunday and mama wanted to go to church, we did brunch instead. She made a big meal of Tofu Scramble, Biscuits & Gravy, Hash Browns, and Vegan Sausage for me. My mama ate tofu scramble too, but my dad and me-maw had real eggs and meat.
Here's a fun family shot — me-maw (mama's mom), mama, daddy, and me! My granny (daddy's mom) spent this Christmas in El Dorado, Arkansas, with my dad's brother.
We were STUFFED after brunch, but mama got a new air fryer for Christmas, and we were anxious to test it out. We waited about an hour for our food to digest a bit, and then we tried an easy recipe for Avocado Fries — air-fried, panko-crusted avocado slices. We dipped them in Chipotle Just Mayo. These were awesome! Now I want an air fryer!
I headed back to Memphis around 4 p.m. so I could get back in time to feed Maynard and the kitties. Once my gifts were put away, I changed into my new Christmas PJs and fixed a Vegan Holiday Nog Cocktail in the Vitamix — frozen banana, Califia Farms Holiday Nog, almond-cashew milk, spiced rum, and So Delicious CocoWhip Light. Then I settled in on the recliner and binged on The OA on Netflix. A relaxing end to an awesome holiday weekend!