Christmas Dinner Made Easy

26/12/12 10:59 PM

Hurley watching a Christmas Show

Hurley watching a Christmas Show

With the loss of my mother last month, the one holiday I was dreading most was Christmas. Being that the emotions were still really fresh, I knew that it was going to be really hard getting through it without a lot of tears. So I asked my family if they would help me out this year by not making Christmas a big holiday as we always do. All I can say is I love my family. They sacrificed the decorations, the Christmas cards and the huge meal I always cook each year to help me make it through without being a basket case.

I can’t say I didn’t cry this Christmas Season. One that caught me off guard was when we were visiting the BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville for lunch just before we went to Montpelier for the Candle Light Tour. The weekend had been really nice. It was the first weekend we had gone away since my mother’s death and I was doing pretty well. As we sat talking and enjoying our meal, we could hear Christmas songs in the restaurant. All of a sudden the song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” came on. I fought really hard. I tried to ignore it. I tried to focus on something funny at the table. I even looked around to see if I could focus on someone else almost in an attempt to draw a smile out of myself. But it wasn’t going to happen. Before I could stop it, tears started flowing. I allowed them to and tried to do it in a way that no one would notice. A few minutes later, Brett looked up and realized that I was crying. It only took a second I think for him to understand why. As I wiped the tears away, I tried to smile and said that I was sorry, the song just got me. The song ended and I was okay again.

But since we didn’t have the huge meal of years past, I wanted to do something special for my family who give up so much for me. So I made reservation at one of our high end restaurants in Virginia Beach. At first, I wanted to go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but I was a little late in getting the reservation. So instead we decided to go to McCormick and Schmicks. It was really a wonderful time. We brought my father and my son’s girlfriend along for the evening. If you haven’t tried it, you need to go. The food was out of this world.

But don’t worry, by next Christmas we will be in the plantation and will have lots of wonderful decorations and celebrations. New Years is coming and I have a traditional New Year’s dinner planned at home! It’s a new year and a new chapter that we will be starting soon.

McCormick and SchmickVirginia Beach, Virginia

McCormick and Schmick
Virginia Beach, Virginia

McCormick and SchmickBar

McCormick and Schmick

McCormick and SchmickDining Room

McCormick and Schmick
Dining Room

Meet the Family

Meet the Family

Pawpaw and Tyler

Pawpaw and Tyler

Tyler and Leah, his girlfriend

Tyler and Leah, his girlfriend

Alexa and Brett

Alexa and Brett

Brett and Michelle

Brett and Michelle


If  you are hungry, don’t go any further! 

You have been warned! 


Shrimp KissesShrimp stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese and wrapped in Bacon. It is served on a bed of corn with red and green peppers and a touch of cayenne pepper.

Shrimp Kisses
Shrimp stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese and wrapped in Bacon. It is served on a bed of corn with red and green peppers and a touch of cayenne pepper.

Crab Soup

Crab Soup

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Cajun Pasta

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Cajun Pasta

Shrimp and Andouille Macaroni and Cheese

Shrimp and Andouille Macaroni and Cheese

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken with Lemon Butter and Capers. Served with Linguine Alfredo and Roasted, Marinated Grape Tomatoes

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken with Lemon Butter and Capers. Served with Linguine Alfredo and Roasted, Marinated Grape Tomatoes

Ultimate Seafood Platter with Shrimp, Scallops, Salmon. Served with Mash Potatoes and Vegetables.

Ultimate Seafood Platter
with Shrimp, Scallops, Salmon and Stuffed Shrimp. Served with Mash Potatoes and Vegetables.

Stuffed ShrimpServed with Mash Potatoes and Vegetables.

Stuffed Shrimp
Served with Mash Potatoes and Vegetables.

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 87 Comments »

87 Comments on “Christmas Dinner Made Easy”

  1. terry1954 Says:

    so glad you got through it. my brother and i shared our sorrow together missing mom an dad also

  2. I am with you too! I hope you had a good Christmas together. 😉

  3. Jet Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but happy that your family is being very supportive!

    Wow. That food looks delicious! I’m glad you all had a good time 🙂

  4. Thank you! I made it through. Now its onward to new things.

  5. marydpierce Says:

    Loss is hard any day, but especially so at Christmas, which is so much about being with family. Sending out my very best wishes and my warmest hugs!!

  6. Thank you so much! {{Hugs}} back at you!

  7. Mama Bear Says:

    It sounds like you have a wonderful family.
    And now for some reason, I’m hungry!

  8. Thank you! They are wonderful. Okay now, I warned you 😉

  9. I had to learn a new way to celebrate holidays after the divorce. I spent every Christmas Eve and Christmas morning alone from 1997 until 2009. And every other Thanksgiving I was alone. I had no family out here and I didn’t like going to strangers’ houses and trying to make small talk just have someone to be with for the holiday. It was exhausting!

    So I learned to enjoy myself on my own, and if I didn’t feel like having a holiday on a particular day, then I would just said to myself, I’ll make this a great fun day and forget it’s supposed to be a holiday. And I did and I was happy, anyway. And I also believe you can celebrate any day of the year. So sometimes the kids and I would just pick a day when we were together to have our celebration even it wasn’t “the” day.

    Now that my kids are grown and are here every year, sometimes we do more, sometimes less, for holidays. It depends on what we want and how we feel. I think being flexible about celebrations makes them more fun and takes the pressure off. What a great idea you had to take care of yourself that way!

    Happy New Year

  10. Thank you Deborah. I can’t image the holidays alone. I think that is one thing I love about the B&B, you are never alone. But I made it through this year and next will be better. But I agree we should celebrate every day!

    Happy New Year!

  11. eideard Says:

    Cripes. Now I need a wee snack before going to bed.

  12. Haha.. I did warn you. 😉

  13. Glad you were able to spend the holiday in a way that was easier for you. The food looked fantastic, and how nice that you were able to spend time with family.

  14. Thank you. It’s all history and now I am ready for the next chapter. 😉 I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  15. vanbraman Says:

    I am glad that you had a great meal together. I am now going to go pop a bowl of popcorn :-). I had an early dinner so am now hungry again.

  16. Yum Popcorn! Sorry about that. I did warn you though 😉 Thank you!

  17. Hook & Linen Says:

    I can totally relate to your pain and the strength family can provide. Chin up .I find crying in the shower helps. 🙂

  18. I haven’t cried too much in the shower, but because my mother’s grave is close by, I am able to stop there on the way home sometimes. I know she isn’t there, just the body that was left behind. But it is still a comfort at this point. I’m working on it. I have to focus now on the coming year and opening this plantation! Thank you for your support!

  19. Hook & Linen Says:


  20. paintlater Says:

    Music always does it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful xmas. Cheers, safe holidays!

  21. Thank you! Yes, music is hard to get through sometimes. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and great New Years!

  22. Jennifer Says:

    The food looks fantastic, glad you had a great night. 🙂

  23. Thank you! It was really good!

  24. Dianna Says:

    I can completely understand how that song would upset you, Michelle. I’ve had that happen before; sometimes you just can’t help it. That’s wonderful that your family understood your need for a subdued Christmas.

  25. Thank you! I am glad I have such a wonderful family that love me enough to give up such a tradition. By the way, we may be going to Smithfield this weekend.

  26. Dianna Says:

    That’s great! Are you coming to shop? Give me a call – maybe we can meet for lunch if your schedule permits!

  27. We are going to do a little shopping but mostly going to visit some of the historic homes from the Year of the Virginia Historic Homes. I don’t remember if I still have your phone number, could you send it to me again via email at Thanks!

  28. gooseyanne Says:

    I can`t type and dribble at the same time!

  29. Oh sorry, grab a napkin before it shorts out your keyboard 😉 Thank you!

  30. Crying is human. It helps. I find when I let myself cry the recovery is easier.

    Blessings to you and your family!


  31. I totally agree. Sometimes you just have to. Blessing to you and your family too!

  32. tommiaw Says:

    I’m glad you had a wonderful time with family – that above all else, I think, is the best ‘present’ to cherish. Love the photo of Hurley, too.

  33. Thank you! Hurley is always watching tv. He thinks he is human. It was a wonderful time with my family even if it was low key.

  34. John Says:

    I understand how you feel. Having lost my mother this past April I fully understand the pain. I still tear up so easily. We miss her so much. Christmas will never be the same but we have to move on don’t we. Glad you are handling it so well. God bless you and your family.

  35. Thank you John. I am sorry that you also have to endure the holidays after your mothers death. I do understand. I have done some reading on grieving and I know it is going to come and go for awhile. You be strong too and yes we need to move on. God Bless you and your family too!

  36. Janet Rörschåch Says:

    Blessings to you and yours. Thank you for sharing. Loss is something we all share and gives us depths and resolve. Here’s a toast to Belle Grove and the wonderful innkeepers.

  37. Thank you so much! The support has been such a God send to me. Blessing to you and yours in this coming New Year!

  38. It looks like it was a wonderful meal. I’m sure your mother would have wanted nothing less. Big hugs to you!

    Btw, helped a friend with a food styling shoot yesterday. Made Depression-era mini-cakes! No eggs, no sugar. Molasses and bread crumbs. Thought of your post!

  39. Thank you! {{Hugs}} back at you! Wow! That is so cool! I would love to see the photos!

  40. CurtissAnn Says:

    My heart goes out to you, and I smile to think of your loving family. Also, your post gave me just a few moments of remembering Virginia Beach long ago, when my husband and I lived there. 🙂 Blessings for a wonderful New Year.

  41. Thank you so much for the wonderful support! Many Blessings to you and your family in the coming year!

  42. The food looks amazing and will have to remember that restaurant when I visit my son and his wife in Virginia Beach.

    My heart goes out to you as well. I lost my mil and then my dad within two weeks of each other just a few weeks ago and totally understand. Having family close by is important and becomes more precious when others pass away.

    Here is to a beautiful New Year! 🙂

  43. Thank you so much. I don’t know if I could handle two so close together, but I know God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. It is so important to have family so close by. My heart and prayers are with you too in during this time. We can get through this together. May your new year be filled with joy.

  44. Thank you and wish the same for you! 2013 is going to be an amazing year! 😉

  45. Myrna Says:

    I remember my first Christmas without my mom. I know how you felt. For us it is Easter. We have our wonderful memories of them though. May 2013 be a wonderful year for you.

  46. Thank you! I know there are so many out there that have a loved one missing this year. But we get through it and we move on. It is what our loves one would want. Many Blessing on you and your family in the coming year!

  47. God bless and comfort you. I still cry when I hear “I’ll be home for Christmas” my dads favorite and “Er A Rose Is Blooming” my mother’s favorite, actually last year was the first year I have heard sung in English, she always sang it German and of course on it was in German on her records. They are tears of sorrow because I will always miss them and tears of joy because I had the privilege of having them as my parents.

  48. Thank you and may God Bless you and your family too! What a wonderful way you have in expressing your grief and loss. They were lucky to have you as a daughter too!

  49. John Says:

    Goodness this looks good. I almost took a bite out of my monitor. I’m with you on “I’ll be home for Christmas.” It’s the one Christmas Song that gets to me. Happy New Year!

  50. Thank you! I hope you monitor makes it! 😉 Happy New Year!

  51. oh my goodness – food fit for royalty. Kudos to your family for understanding and being gracious. There will always be those moments when tears flow and someone who loves you will notice and you will smile once more.

  52. Thank you so much! The food was great. Thank you for your support and wonderful words. They made me smile 🙂

  53. 🙂

  54. 🙂

  55. So sorry for your loss. My mom died 10 years ago. I still cry. It’s not something I’ll ever get over. But, because of her strength, I can still go on. Bless you.

  56. Thank you so much for your support and words of encouragement. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. I know it will take some time for it not to happen as much, but I am working on it. Bless you and your family too!

  57. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure you will have more triggers that remind you of your Mom and make you stop and cry. It is all good. Looks as though you and your family enjoyed Christmas in a new way this year. Best wishes to you and your husband in this new year that holds such promise.


  58. Thank you Leslie! We are going to get through this and make 2013 a wonderful year! We hope it will be the same for you too!

  59. nancymn Says:

    I am sorry for your loss, and totally understand. My mother died a year ago. It’s OK that certain times of the year just plain suck. Don’t ever feel bad for feeling bad about it.

  60. Thank you Nancy! It means a lot to have some many support me through this holiday. I hope you did okay with it too. I know I will have ups and downs, but I am working on it.

  61. Karen Wan Says:

    I am sorry for your loss. My Dad died 4 years ago and every Christmas is a tough time when the tears still come, so I can relate to where you are now. Wishing the best for you and your family in the upcoming year. Karen

  62. Thank you so much Karen! The support has been so wonderful for me this year. We wish you and your family the best in 2013!

  63. tuttacronaca Says:

    Hi! There’s a star for you: best blog of the year! Enjoy!

  64. Thank you so much! We really appreciate it! It means so much to us!

  65. tuttacronaca Says:

    It’s well deserved! Your blog is really interesting!
    I wish you a fantastic, bright, new year!

  66. 🙂

  67. pommepal Says:

    Best wishes for 2013 and I look forward to following you in cyberspace and being there at the opening

  68. Thank you so much! Happy New Year to you too!

  69. Love Crab boy yours must have been FRESH to splash and make such a MESS 🙂

    Hang in there I lost My Dad at Father’s Day and cried for two years at the drop of a hat I still miss him so much but I am now at peace with him no longer in pain

    for you


  70. Thank you Eunice! The crab soup was for my son’s girlfriend and yes it came looking just like that. So it must have still been kicking as they came out 😉 Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am working on it and I know it will get better as time goes by. {{Hugs}} back at you!

  71. I loved all your photos and how good the food was We go to VA Beach all the time from NH just a 12 hr ride hammer down 🙂 My Aunt and Uncle live over by a base 🙂 Dam Neck leads that way 🙂

  72. Thank you! You know we live in Chesapeake now, but come March/April we will be at the plantation about 20 miles south of Fredericksburg.

  73. Nice I love that area!

  74. I do love the look of the old plantation we metal detect farm property across this country to unearth treasure families lost or threw away

    I wish you the best on your next adventure I love your family story


  75. Thank you! You would love our plantation. To my knowledge no digs have been done there yet.

  76. 🙂 will you be running a Bed and Breakfast there and would you allow well behave small smart dog lol

  77. We are still discussing that. I will have to let you know.

  78. 🙂

  79. 🙂 How big are the SNAKES ? 🙂

  80. We found a snake’s skin that was pretty big. But of course I am scared to death of them so they all look big to me. 😉 But from what I have been told the snakes pretty much stay away from people.

  81. 🙂 OK we’ll go with that bu I had two different kinds here in my yard in NH not dangerous but loves chilling all coiled and watching me 🙂

  82. The only ones I have heard of are black snakes which eat the rodents. So I guess it could be a good thing.

  83. Yes we have huge milk snakes that are known for that here too they even shake their tails to try to scare you which it does me every time 🙂

  84. Glad you made it through. I can still cry with that song and it’s been 16 yrs since my mom passed..that one and “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”. Anyway, Terrapin is the best restaurant we’ve ever been to. If you haven’t gone, please do. It is incredible and the staff was out of this world. We wandered in after walking around VA Beach (first time there) and they weren’t even open yet for the night. Treated us SO WELL, and the chef is unreal. Just great all around.

  85. Thank you! We are doing pretty good now. We haven’t tried Terrapin yet. We will and let you know!

  86. I can’t wait to hear back. Seriously, we were blown away by how nice they were to us and how amazing the food was!

  87. We will let know as soon as we go!