I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
I confess – I’m a holiday blues sufferer. I don’t typically enjoy holidays very much, for reasons I can’t pinpoint for certain. Perhaps it’s because I can remember very few happy holidays when I was growing up, but I think it’s also related to my need for calm and normalcy, and my dislike of anything that disrupts my routine (this is why, at our house, the Christmas decorations are taken down and packed up right away on the 26th). Also, being the introvert that I am, I’ve never enjoyed a lot of busy-ness and socializing. It takes a lot out of me. Even so, I do enjoy celebrating with my children, and seeing my family – I just need small doses of celebrating, with rest periods in between. Unfortunately, between school and activities, I’ve had very little time for rest since the second week in December.
The 13th was the girls’ Christmas concert at school, and I snapped this photo of them all decked out in their Christmas finery.
The gym was very hot and crowded during the concert, and DJ was rapidly losing patience. He had been to the dentist earlier in the week, so to keep him entertained, my husband allowed DJ to give him a dental “check-up.”
The people sitting around us were laughing, but hey! It worked.
On the morning of the 15th, the girls had rehearsal for their Christmas dance recital, and that afternoon we had our family Christmas with my in-laws. It was a hectic and emotional day, being the first Christmas without my father-in-law. We were all reduced to tears when my sister-in-law gave all the grandkids teddy bears, which were made from their Grandpa’s shirts. Poor Cakes told me, “This is the saddest I’ve ever been in my whole life.” She kind of lost interest in the present opening, and crawled under the buffet table – we could only see her little feet poking out beneath the tablecloth. Eventually she did come out, but she needed a little time to just be sad, without feeling like we were all gawking at her.
The next day was the dance recital, and the girls brought their “Grandpa bears” along so they could watch, just like their Grandpa did every year. We gave the bears their very own seat in the auditorium, and I know their Grandpa was there in spirit.
This dance recital was extra-special for the girls, because their Dad played Santa!
He was a very tall, lanky Santa, so the girls’ dance teacher gave him a box of candy as a thank-you gift, to “fatten him up.” I made sure to woo hoo loudly when he came out on stage, just as I always do for the girls.
Every Monday at school, Cakie draws a picture of what she did over the weekend, and writes a description, which she is supposed to sound out without help. I’ve been saving them because they’re so cute, but I think this one is my favorite. It is simply, “RSIDL” (Recital).
On Tuesday, the girls performed their recital routines at the local care center. It was so sweet – the residents really loved having little kids visit. I was on video duty, but my husband did manage to capture this shot of Cakes in her signature pose, as Vixen in the reindeer line-up.
Friday the 21st was supposed to be the last day of school before Christmas break, but on Wednesday night the girls got an early Christmas present….a blizzard!
School was called off on both Thursday and Friday, so Christmas break started a couple days early. Since we were all cozy and warm in the house, while the snow swirled outside, Bee and I thought it was a perfect time to bake Christmas cookies.
We made over 250 spritz cookies. By Christmas Day, there were only 3 dozen left!
The next day, the kids were stir-crazy from being cooped up in the house, so I devised lots of activities to keep them busy. I made DJ a shoebox train (which he later dismantled),
and a bean box (bad idea. He is apparently incapable of playing with the beans inside the box, but it did keep him occupied for quite a long time).
I taught the girls how to make paper people chains,
and God’s eye ornaments,
and we made a fun lunch of peanut butter reindeer with strawberry banana “candy canes,”
and Santa crackers for snack!
The best part of the day for the kids was playing in the snow. They were outside sledding for at least a couple of hours.
On Christmas Eve, I made our traditional huge family dinner, and we stayed in our PJs all day long (another tradition). I made roast turkey and gravy, mashed potato casserole, butternut squash casserole, cornbread stuffing, peas, rolls, cherry jello salad and, as always, we drank several bottles of sparkling grape juice.
I was happy because I finally got to use my 25-cent garage sale turkey platter!
I made our traditional cranberry cake with butter sauce for Christmas with my in-laws, so for dessert I made a new recipe – raspberry cheesecake squares. They were delicious!
After dinner, Santa (my Dad) paid a surprise visit. DJ was SO excited, and I overheard Cakes say to Bee, “Santa kind of sounds like Grandpa…”
This year, the children got 4 gifts from us; something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Beginning the first Saturday in December, they’re allowed to open one gift each week until Christmas. I think the “something they need” gifts – flannel-lined sleeping bags from L.L. Bean – were their favorites. Bee had outgrown her kid-sized bag, the zipper broke on Cakie’s cheapie one, and DJ didn’t have one at all. As a little bonus, I bought them a bag of unpopped popcorn, a shaker of ranch-flavored popcorn seasoning, and Home Alone on DVD, and we let them have a movie night camp-out on the living room floor.
On Christmas morning, they each had a gift from Santa, as well as a board game for the whole family (Hungry Hungry Hippos – another mistake. That game could not be more noisy!) and stocking stuffers. My favorite quote of the 2012 holiday season came from DJ, who saw the curved, red top of a plastic, M&M-filled candy cane peeking out of his stocking, and squealed, “Santa brought me a hot dog!”
In addition to stocking stuffers, my husband and I finally joined the new millenium and got smartphones. Up until now, we didn’t even have texting, so this is a very big change for us. So far, I’m underwhelmed, but Bee loves my phone. She loves it so much that I’m constantly having to yell at her to get off it, and my inbox is filled with giggly, pointless text conversations between her and her little friends, but she is not getting her own phone until middle school! I’m standing my ground, even if I have to be irritated for another year.
My phone – a Samsung Galaxy Y, which I bought new on Amazon for only $117 – does have some interesting features, including a fairly decent camera, which Bee used to snap this picture of me. I typically hate pictures of myself, but I can live with this one.
On Christmas Day we had lunch with my parents, and we played Bee’s new game, Apples to Apples. It’s a really fun game, and when Bee is the judge I usually win because I know her so well, and I know the best way to argue my case and convince her that my card is the best choice. My husband and I are always bickering (in a good-natured way, of course) and talking over each other, but that’s the fun of it!
Amid all the holiday hoopla, work on the girls’ bedrooms continues.
To save money, my husband did all the wiring himself,
and the drywallers start work tomorrow. When they’re done, my husband and I will paint, and then we’ll have the trim, doors, and carpet installed. To save even more money, we carefully removed the existing carpet, which was in excellent condition, so it could be reused in the finished bedrooms. We’re hoping that some time in January, the girls will be able to move into their new rooms, and I can set up my office in their old room.
What a great way to start the new year!