Archives for December 2018

It’s a Merry Mira Italian Christmas!

What’s on YOUR family’s dinner table this holiday week?? I’d LOVE to know! Leave a comment and dish on your menu…

By September, my crew is already reminding me of the essential components of the Mira Christmas feast. Seriously! We love a good turkey-ham dinner, but by Christmas, we’ve seen enough of the ole’ roasted bird and pig with all the fixin’s.

Seeing that my hubby is of Italian descent, pasta of any kind is his favorite thing to eat. I grew up on Ragu, so I didn’t have a clue. I’ve spent years perfecting my from-scratch secret savory spaghetti sauce recipe, with plump, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, and luscious cheese-and-meat-stuffed manicotti. It’s ‘little Italy’ at the Mira home on Christmas.

The spicy-sweet aroma of simmering garlic has filled the house during the past 3-day cooking event. My daughter-in-law surprised me and popped in with Russian Tea Cakes for us to nibble and gave me three precious hours of her time helping with prep; chopping enough onions to choke the neighborhood, cracking eggs, forming meatballs and just being a friend while I measured spices, carefully filled each manicotti shell with the bulging pastry bag of yummy filling, and fried Italian sausages. The sausages are no small thing. They simmer in the sauce and flavor the entire meal, so I spare no expense, buying the best, least processed that money can buy. I confess I’m a perfectionist. One year while living in a new city, I conducted a blind taste test of 8 different brands of Italian sausage to find the winner for Christmas dinner. Truth.

While the spaghetti noodles boil, my fourth born will prepare his homemade Caesar salad dressing to toss with grated parmesan, and icy-crisp romaine. (Recipe below) Italian loaves will come out of the oven at the last moment, completing the meal with soft and chewy insides and a crunchy crust to slather in butter or dip into the sauce, aka ‘gravy’ as Italians call it. Mmm.

This isn’t just a meal, it’s a week-long event beginning with The Shopping List and ending with bright red placemats, and lots of smiling faces as steaming-hot, overflowing plates of pasta are served.

And one more thing…an Italian Christmas is a loud Christmas! The clamor of jovial banter and laughter is a part of the ambience. When the eating starts, though, you can almost hear a pin drop…

Amidst the hustle and bustle and merrymaking, I’m reminded of something etched on a Christmas card I received one year, ‘Things don’t make Christmas, people do.’ Christmas can’t be bought. It comes to life when we share it all with others, creating experiences and building happy memories.

That’s my wish for you. Make every moment count because we’ll blink and the calendar will turn to January 1st!

May the Christ of Christmas be your joy, your source, your substance and your solace in this season, and may you be refreshed by the relationships you hold dear, rather than drained by the demands of our culture.

I’ll close with a scripture I often reflect upon, and it’s especially appropriate at Christmas time with all the chatter about gifts and stuff.

“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Ain’t it the truth.

Now, for that recipe I promised you!

Levi’s homemade caesar dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp anchovy paste

2-3 cloves garlic pressed

1 tsp worcestershire

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

juice of 1 whole lemon

1/2 – 3/4 cup grated parmesan

1 Head Romaine lettuce chopped

cracked pepper and croutons

Whir first 8 ingredients in a bullet or blender, toss as much dressing as you like with prepared lettuce and croutons, top with fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, there’s more…



For an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood all year ’round, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too,when you sign up HERE ….


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Everyone’s Christmas is Broken…

Stuck in traffic yesterday, I found myself pondering the visual of a Norman Rockwell Christmas; snowflakes falling, twinkle lights glowing, gleeful children, stockings hung, all to the crooning of Bing Crosby on the phonograph.

As the scene played out in my mind, I secretly wished for simpler days when Christmas was Christmas, doggone it, and my Facebook feed wasn’t a bi-polar melange of Pinterest’s festive snow globes interspersed with more ‘Tainted in Tinseltown #MeToo’ headlines, and ‘How to Survive the Next Economic Meltdown,’ rolling in-between InstantPot ads and tragic ‘Paris is on fire!’ updates.

But then I considered the very first Christmas in Galilee…and I was filled with hope.

Don’t kid yourself, it wasn’t a pretty sight. There was Mary, the ‘mother of Christmas,’ so to speak, 9 months preggo and presumably a bundle of emotions leaving all her familiar surroundings and peeps at her most vulnerable moment.

She was riding on a freakin’ donkey (ugh), with her main squeeze, Joseph, unemployed, thus, odds-on edgy and irritable, trudging along next to her, making the lonely 3-day trek to Judea as an unmarried, extremely controversial, low-income, expectant couple.

All the above because The. Man. had issued a daunting decree to ensure that all humans in the Empire had been counted by Roman officials for the express purpose of extorting their hard-earned dollars through taxation, compelling them to report to their historical tribal cities. (now you’re getting the ugly picture, right?)

Mary and Joseph had apparently not read the fine print.

Of course they’d had the benefit of an initial angelic visitation months before all this went down, but let’s be real…goosebumps fade over time.

They arrived in Bethlehem where they found no welcoming committee, not even a BED to sleep in, no sense of miraculous intervention as Mary birthed their miracle baby on a pile of hay in a mini-barn reeking of manure with Old MacDonald’s farm looking on and not a midwife in sight.



Heavenly confirmations did at last arrive, in the form of a spectacular star overhead, angels singing, keyed-in shepherds and Magi bringing gifts along with talking animals. (just kidding on that last point)


I can almost hear Joseph exhaling (more goosebumps) and being reminded that Almighty God, not The. Man. was in charge of things. He would need that reassurance for the lonnggg journey ahead.


And so we find the first Christmas complete with an unwed mama, poverty, a step-dad, homelessness, fears galore, government control never before realized, and out-of-control taxation — just like every Christmas since.

And something about that brings us reassurance in our human condition, especially when we consider the upgrade: instead of Mary carrying the Christ child physically on a donkey, we now carry the Savior in our hearts, by faith.

Yes, as cliche as this might sound, Jesus is still the Reason for the Season.

I’d be lost without Him. He is the anchor of my soul, a very present help in time of trouble, the axis on which my world spins. Correction. He is my world.

I daily peel away the Santa Songs, the sentimental holiday ‘feels,’ the tree, the presents, the garland, the food, and I revisit the Christ of Christmas. 

And those of us fortunate enough to know Him…it’s up to us to make the season bright for those who can only see the brokenness; to help bring the revelation of the Christ child to them.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11–12

Wishing you and yours a very Merry and REAL Christmas 2018!

And for an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too, when you sign up HERE ….


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