Monday, December 29, 2014

Good Christmas

As I sit here enjoying my turkey sandwich, I've been trying to figure out what made this Christmas so different from other years. So much better.

It wasn't that I didn't make an all-in Christmas dinner (including egg-wheat-dairy-free variations for one daughter). And it wasn't that I didn't make elaborate to-do lists. (See photo above.)

It wasn't that we saw or didn't see extended family, though we did that differently this year. We spent Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law's, but it was a (gourmet) spaghetti dinner instead of turkey and all the fixings. I brought salad and a cake.

But that slight difference meant that the turkey dinner was just for my small nuclear family, and I suspect that it changed my perspective on the day.

Even as I wrote the list, I thought: do we really need potatoes and sweet potatoes? We always have so much food!

As happens to me at least once a week, I was unable to sleep the night before Christmas. So I was up and awake, drinking my extra-strong coffee, when Katie arrived at 6:30 a.m. (an hour I am not usually awake to see).

We opened our stockings, and Emily said, "Stockings are the best part of Christmas" as she and Katie giggled over their colouring books and Peter had fun with his Sudoku book.

I asked the kids if they would rather have sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes with dinner. Sweet potatoes won.
A Christmas-snuggle selfie.
But when I came to prepare the meal, I couldn't fight my impulses: we prepared both potatoes and sweet potatoes. We now have leftover potatoes in the fridge.

Steve and Katie grabbed bowls of oatmeal mush, and Emily and Peter had an egg and toast. By then Brian was up, so we just segued into unwrapping gifts. In our household, we each open one gift at a time, going in a circle, so everyone sees what's been given and received.

I loved watching our kids' faces as they were thrilled with the gifts they'd received. We laughed at Kane trying to figure out the rubber booties we gave him. (He could not figure it out.)

Katie, Emily, and I had a nap together. Elly, our cat, joined us.

Steve and I took Kane for a nice, long walk. (Without the dreaded booties.)

Then I figured it was probably time to get dinner going. I had done NOTHING in preparation, aside from buying basic groceries. I had not decided what time we would eat. I was winging it.

I took a break.

My Facebook post.
In the end, I hadn't cooked the cranberry sauce long enough, so it didn't set, and the turkey could have stood a little longer in the oven. It still got eaten. I forgot to serve the green beans, but everyone was full, so they became part of Kane's Christmas meal. I completely forgot about the planned cauliflower -- something I had added to the menu because I felt maternal guilt for not providing a salad and more healthy options. I don't think anyone's going to die.

Katie inserts a structural toothpick.
The egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free gingerbread house had been baked and many pounds of bulk candy had been bought (Oh! I did prepare something!), but no one was really enthusiastic about making frosting, so the kids improvised and used toothpicks to hold the structure together.

Peter ponders the structural integrity of the gingerbread house.
Then they just ate all the candy. Which is what gingerbread houses are all about, right?

I took a couple of pictures, but didn't get nearly as serious about it as I ordinarily would have been. It was, as a matter of fact, the only time I pulled out my camera that day.

Which Brian appreciated, I think.

The gingerbread man (who has fallen down) is holding a hot dog over a roasting fire. I think the fire has been eaten.
And in all of this, the biggest difference I can find from other Christmases was that I let the day unfold as it would.

Our past Christmases have had all these elements: big meals with comic omissions and "fails," snuggle time, delightful gifts, music, moments of calm. We've even had turkey dinners when it was just the six of us. What was different about this Christmas was me.

I had decided to just let the day be what it would be. The turkey dinner was just . . . a meal, not a project. No one got dressed up (don't tell anyone, but I wore my pyjama top all day, under my sweater). We didn't get out any special table decorations, though we did remember the Christmas crackers.

It was a perfect Christmas day.


  1. I had the same philosophy this year: just let it all unfold as it will. I mean, the house was decorated and clean. the necessary groceries were bought. the turkey was prepped and ready to be cooked. the wine was open. I had a set dinner time. but aside from that - - we didn't sweat anything. If dinner was a bit later, or guests, or the first batch of cookies burnt for some reason. oh well. refill my wine glass and round 2. I just wanted stress and worry free holiday -- and because I made that choice: I got it! :)


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