It was an old-fashioned Christmas, with old-fashioned applie pie, and this year, it even featured old-fashioned apples.
Here's the story: A number of years ago - I'm trying to picture the kitchen where I first tried the recipe, and it's not coming to me - I ran across the basic recipe for Dad's Extreme Apple Pie. That wasn't what it was called, of course, but that's how it's known today.
Extreme? A single pie requires five pounds of apples.
When I was growing up, Mom made apple pies fairly often. She always looked for a particular type of apple - the Northern Spy. Even 40 years ago, they were hard to find, and today, they're extremely hard to locate in grocery stores.
They don't sell well in 21st century superstore produce departments, where the visual presentation is paramount. Frankly, they're not pretty. They look like beat-up old farm apples. And they don't travel well.
But this antique breed of apple is fabulous for pies, with firm flesh, and just the right mix of sweet and tart.
And on Christmas Eve, like a Christmas present, there they were - one 10-pound bag - in the produce section at Meijer. Kissy Missy snapped them up.
And the perfect version of Dad's Extreme Apple Pie was made on Christmas Day 2009.
For the second time in a month, the whole gang was here. Matthew slid up from Grand Rapids - literally. Andrew's back from Tech, settling in for a new adventure. Miranda was here. Katherine, and Robert and Jamie, and Kissy Missy and I all shared the kind of Christmas I'd always envied other people having. What we had: "Miracle on 34th Street" on the babble box, and on the table, pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, asparagus (from Peru - ya gotta love the 21st century), with Dad's Extreme Apple Pie, a Sarah Lee sweet potato pie and Sleeping Bear made-in-Michigan ice cream for dessert.
And gifts, given from the heart.
What we didn't have: Relatives who sit with silent disapproval, adults playing adolescent mind games, and underwear for Christmas.