Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015

On Christmas Eve, our baby woke early at 5:00, so I was already bumping around in the kitchen when our four-year-old came down at 5:15, beaming ear to ear, and exclaimed, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Oh, I didn't like to have to tell her that she was still one day too early!

Unfortunately, she woke up her siblings, so they all trundled downstairs: I didn't get any peace and quiet by the Christmas tree, but our 9-year-old did ask to make French toast all by himself (for the first time), so that was a pretty good deal.

French toast a la John

After everyone getting dressed, we began decorating the tree--by nine o'clock in the morning because everyone had been up so early! It was a great success for me personally because I've learned three tactics for peace over the years.

1. Send Daddy on an errand so he is spared the whole event but comes home to a gorgeous tree.

2. Only Mama opens the bins of ornaments and only Mama selects which ornaments of ours we're going to put on the tree.

3. But children put ornaments on the tree and Mama must not care how they are placed.

This year, we lost about five glass ornaments during the decorating, which is a bit high, but the grand achievement is that Mama did not yell, raise her voice, or even have to "white knuckle it"! When Chris married me, I was still the lady who put up three or four individual themed Christmas trees each year, along with all the other decorations. Now I have learned that no ornament being smashed is worth me viciously barking at my bright-eyed children on Christmas Eve and, if the ornament is that dear to me, it should stay locked away in a bin, not to emerge.

Four siblings decorating: a precious memory
(not a staged photo)

During the decorating, John and Mary would occasionally pop onto the piano and play us a jingle . . . here is the end of Mary playing "Boys' Round Dance," which she is still perfecting.

My mom-and-daughter wooden angels are still holding together after 33 years: I think of Mom every year I put them out, may she rest in peace.

Decorating complete, it was time to break out the homemade treats I've been hiding during Advent! We enjoyed a wonderful tray of truffles, gingersnaps, candied nuts, and peppermint bark in the den by the sparkling tree while listening to Christmas music.

It was only eleven o'clock, so I had three hours of nothing to do until it was time to begin cooking. Over the years, my abilities to do a grand Christmas have gotten smaller and smaller as my normal day-to-day duties taking care of the children have grown bigger and bigger. I may have reached a good medium this year in that I've made my to-do list so modest that I have spare time on my hands.

Rather than have the kids watch TV all day to stay out of my hair--and it's a sopping muddy mess outside due to all the rain--we decided to go check out a new playground. For my local peeps: this new, public playground is located adjacent to the Marion Diehl Recreation center at 2219 Tyvola Road. Adults can use the exercise equipment or walk laps around the circumference while their children play. The design is amazing!

My little monkeys adored the climbing equipment! This photo does not do this climbing dome justice: you've got to see it in person.

The only potential negatives to this playground: it is not fully fenced, so a child who is a runner is going to keep his mother on her toes, and there is not a nearby public restroom dedicated to the users of the playground; I presume there are restrooms in the rec center and the senior center, but I don't yet know if the public may access those.

Upon arriving home, we discovered a problem we never anticipated having at Christmas: Our air conditioning broke! We are in the midst of a bizarre heat wave causing fruit trees to blossom and bulbs to emerge, so today when the inside of the house reached a humid mid-70s, I waved the white flag, flipping on the air conditioning. As the hours passed and the air didn't cool, Chris did some investigation and figured out that our A/C motor is dead. We will enjoy Christmas celebrations wearing light clothing and to the background noise of many humming fans we've placed around the house!

The table setting

Christmas Eve Menu:

  • Caramel-Apple Pork Chops
  • Baked Acorn Squash
  • Garlic Potatoes (Trader Joe's frozen)
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Bread Rolls (take-and-bake)
  • No formal dessert because I'd served homemade gingerbread cookies, truffles, and peppermint bark.

Ready to eat

Where's Mary?

During dinner, Mary got up from the table to get something and never returned. After a while, we noticed her absence, and we looked for her in earnest after dinner. All the other children were playing loudly and rambunctiously in the den, shrieking with joy, while we hunted through the rest of the quiet house. Finally, I went back to the den and noticed that Mary was asleep under the tree, amidst all the clamor!

Mary asleep under the tree!
The Christmas train came out and Thomas (5 months), who is desperate to be mobile, sat in the midst and craned his neck round and round watching the engine drive along.

"I want to catch that train!"
Mary watching the girl's choir in the choir loft during Mass
Chris took the oldest two children to the 6:30 vigil Mass while I stayed home with the three youngest who, by happenstance, were all asleep by 6:30--score one for Mama! This gave me a comparatively easy evening for making two dishes for tomorrow, completing all the wrapping, and putting all the gifts under the tree.

Stockings stuffed with care

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