The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It was Aila’s first Christmas and she was our best gift this year.

Each year, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving with the annual Bradshaw family Christmas tree cutting adventure.

We go on a few Christmas adventures…

This year’s Christmas miracle came from John Bentley, owner and chef of John Bentley’s Restaurant, one of our family’s favorite restaurants and the home of the best pork chop in the world. No exaggeration. Every time we eat at John Bentley’s, our entire table orders the pork chop (unless there is a vegetarian present). It is the best pork chop you will ever eat. I always get a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Nom.

A little background – my family has celebrated anniversaries, graduations, birthdays…everything at John Bentley’s. We go when my brother visits from New York. My parents take us just because (lucky me). One year, without knowing me or my students, Mr. Bentley treated my advisory girls to a three course meal to celebrate their high school graduation. I hope to treat my family when I sign my first book deal.

We love this restaurant. And, we just found out it will be closing next year. Devastation.

I thought the best present I could give my family would be a recipe for John Bentley’s pork chop – so we could have some semblance of the its deliciousness for years to come. Crossing my fingers, I emailed the restaurant. AND JOHN BENTLEY HIMSELF EMAILED ME BACK!!!!!! I almost died of joy. He sent me his best approximation of a recipe (as he doesn’t use one!) with repeated offers to help if I had questions. Did I mention he is an amazing human being?

Well, of course I had questions. Like, how on earth does one make a demi-glace? I emailed him then began to google frantically. Panic. His response? Come by the restaurant and I will give you some. *Cue angels belting out the Hallelujah chorus *

Needless to say, Chef Bentley was my Christmas angel this year. My family will be grateful for generations. My Christmas Eve attempt at making his pork chops were no where near as good as the original, but they weren’t terrible and I will keep practicing!

Christmas day was our best one yet. I am getting better at spending time on activities that prioritize family over time-consuming, (attempted) Pinterest-perfect creations. I tried really hard to slow my roll and let things flow – instead of planning activities down to the second and getting stressed trying fit it all in. Andy and I are starting to figure out how to prepare in advance to avoid sleepless, frantic nights of wrapping, cleaning and cooking.

This year, we started the morning with another Christmas poo. Apparently this is a tradition BOTH our children are determined to keep alive. We had a slow morning of scriptures, cooking, playing and napping. We got to presents around 11. I loved that presents weren’t the focal point of our morning.

My goal for next year is to try even harder to center Christmas on Christ through Light the World and more service-oriented activities and gift giving. Here is my favorite news story of the season and an inspiration for my family next year.

I know Christ lives – He is my Savior and the source of all love and light in the world. He walks with me and carries me. He comforts me and brings me peace. I hope my kids will feel and know His light and joy.

Merry Christmas today and throughout the new year.


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