I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. The wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mess in my house is a sure sign that we had a great day. One of my friends posted a photo on Facebook entitled, "Aftermath". I was so glad to see that ours wasn't the only house where you couldn't even see the floor of the living room.
I apologize in advance for the super-long post. It's as much for me to remember what we did for Christmas as anything else. I won't be hurt if you skim. :)
We're always striving to make the day - or two days, since I consider Christmas Eve just as much a holiday - less stressful for the grown-ups, and I think we did an excellent job with that this year. There was still a ton of work to get ready, but we simplified as much as we could and actually had most of the shopping done early in December. I decided not to promise myself I would finish any sewing projects which is always a big stressor for me. The rest just kind of fell into place.
My two youngest kids had concerts on Thursday which really kicked things off. In between concerts, Addie I made alfajores.
(Yes, I know Addie is wearing the same clothes as the day before. I have no control.) Joe opted out of the cookie-decorating claiming that he has an aversion to frosting. I also made macarons from this recipe and filling from this recipe. (After having one for breakfast just now, I decided that the filling is just too rich.) The whole thing ended up taking way longer than I hoped, but I didn't let it get to me, since I had no pressing other project waiting in the wings. My husband and I finished up the shopping after that.
Then we decided that cleaning the upstairs of the house was a lot less important than being together as a family and celebrating the fact that the kids were on vacation and decided to go bowling. We have a great candlepin bowling alley near us. It's almost always empty and the ladies who run it are just so nice. It's low-tech and the decor reminds me of an episode of Mad Men. We're all actually terrible at bowling - me especially, but we always have so much fun.
The next day, I got up early to make bagels for the kids and fresh squeezed o.j. from the bazillion oranges we got as a Christmas gift. The kids must have been excited about it being Christmas Eve, since they woke up earlier than usual. My husband and I sat by the tree for a few minutes eating bagels and making the grocery shopping list. To simplify, we decided to have day-long appetizers (what my mom calls, "progressive finger foods") instead of a big sit-down Christmas Dinner. My husband went off with the grocery list and some of the kids, so they could do their Christmas shopping while I made my final batches of cookies. I would have been happy to be done, but we still didn't have what the kids said were their very favorites - peanut butter balls (which we had already made and devoured a week or so earlier) and wreaths (like Rice Krispie treats but with cornflakes and green food coloring - pain in the butt to make).
The shopping turned into pretty much an all-day affair with my husband taking the kids out in shifts. The kids enjoyed it. When they came back, Addie said she was more excited to give her gifts than to get her gifts. How great is that?! Everyone made it home just in time to get ready for Mass. I even had time to snap a few photos before we headed to church. My husband was trying to direct the kids, and he told Addie to stand in front of Frank. This is what she did. Arghh.
My parents and brother weren't due to arrive for a few hours after we got home from Mass, so we had a nice fondue dinner while we played Christmas trivia and Christmas Charades. When they arrived, they helped us finish up our games then we moved on to eating Christmas cookies. Those of us who were old enough did a whisky tasting. We had two scotches, one Irish whisky, and one bourbon. One of the scotches, Balvenie 21, ended up coming out on top. At the same time, we sang some carols, listened to a reading of "The Night before Christmas", and were entertained by some of Frank's saxophone-playing.
After a while, my parents and brother went off to their hotel, and my husband and I took care of the normal Christmas Eve stuff and then crashed. The kids were instructed not to get up before 7:00 and actually slept a little past that. Luckily, Santa did come, so we spent a few hours opening presents.
I made some more O.J. for mimosas (seriously, we are swimming in oranges), and the rest of my family came back over to help us make and eat breakfast. We have a tradition of having my dad make popovers. My mom also brought her yummy chocolate chip coffee cake.
After we ate breakfast, we pretty much lost the two younger kids to their new toys, but the rest of us relaxed, read the paper, and hung out while my husband started to prepare all the yummy appetizers we were going to eat throughout the day. We took a break from relaxing to finish opening presents then we got right back to it.
We started eating around 2:00 with vegies, pita chips, and hummus that my mom brought. Then we had some cheese and sausage that my dad brought with my homemade bread followed by Hungarian Bean Soup from this cookbook. My husband also made scallops - his own made up recipe, I think - and Olivada Crostini and Beef Skewers from this favorite cookbook. And luckily we remembered to drink the Prosecco that my brother brought. It was chilling quite well out on the porch. Mmmm. It was buttery and crisp and just the right amount of bubbly. I'm sorry now that I made him take the other bottle back.
It's funny that I almost forgot to mention the gifts. I'm sure that when I was a kid, I never would have thought that the visiting and eating and atmosphere would overtake presents in my mind as the main part of Christmas. BUT, I'm so excited to say that my dad, who had me in the gift exchange, bought me the Far Far Away Quilt Kit I'd been coveting from Alewive's. I have all 10 Fat Quarters spread out on my ironing board just so I can admire them.
Thanks, Mom, Dad, and Simon for being such an integral part of our celebration!
I always have mixed feelings about Christmas being over. I will miss the anticipation for the day and the kids' excitement, but I'm also so relieved that I can focus my time and crafting elsewhere, and I love the fresh start of the new year.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have at least one more day of vacation.