I hope you all had reason to celebrate Christmas joy and be merry despite life’s challenges. Here are my top 10 things about Christmas this year, not in any order:
1. Some generous people, of my extended family and friends, one anonymous, gave us some cash and/or gift cards, to help buy Christmas presents for our large family. Thank you generous people who have the spirit of giving! I believe in Santa, in the form of the spirit of giving.
2. We finally bought the download of the Christmas Chronicles this year. I absolutely love, love, love the story.
3. I got to hear from my missionary son through Skype thanks to the Calhoun family of Charlotte NC who hosted him on Christmas Day with a computer and Internet connection.
4. Missionary son said that even though he had only been in North Carolina for a week he had knocked on over 100 doors and some people were not too busy with Christmas prep and actually let him and his companion in to talk about Jesus Christ.
4 1/2. We had a White Christmas after all. On Christmas Adam (the day before Christmas Eve) it was brown and green with no sight of white in sight. This is the tree in my front yard and it sure looked bleak and brown on that day. Christmas Eve was perfect with snow falling, encouraging us to stay indoors and finish Christmas prep! Then Christmas Day was perfect too with new-fallen snow and sunny skies! This is what the tree looked like on Christmas Day. Thank you God for orchestrating a picture-perfect Christmas Day!
5. My potty-training three year old actually interrupted his play at his cousins’ home on Christmas Day to come tell me he needed to go potty. He uses the potty, but it’s usually at my initiation, sometimes at his. I am thrilled that he decided to tear himself away from the fun to take care of business. I am seeing progress!
5 1/2. My brother’s house has so many darling Christmas decorations. They really go all out with gingerbread houses, snowflakes on the wall and ceiling, and nativity sets.
6. My daughter got a straightening iron so now she won’t use mine, 20 minutes before church starts when we both want to use it. Here she is on her curly girl Christmas day with two of her cousins.
6 1/2. My sourdough crepes with whipped cream and maple syrup for Christmas breakfast were delectable and a much healthier and cheaper substitution for my usual fare of toasting frozen store-bought (shhh!) waffles. The kids even thanked me for them. And my sister gave me a griddle to replace our worn out electric griddle.
7. I actually finally am getting the meaning of the story of Scrooge. A brother in our ward in sacrament meeting spoke last Sunday about how the natural man is represented by Scrooge so since we are all natural men, we all have a little bit of Scrooge as part of us. The message of Christmas is that because of Christ’s atonement we can change. I have to admit, I have felt more Scroogey this year. I found myself grumbling on Christmas Day that as usual, we have to rush off in the middle of the day to the grandparents’ house instead of being able to relax after opening presents and eating breakfast. It finally hit me that letting my kids play at their cousins is a gift I can give my kids every year at Christmas without complaining about it. Hmmm, what else can I change about my reaction to Christmas…
Then yesterday with the snow my 11 year old wanted to go play in it. I have never really liked playing in the snow. He asked me to come play with him and at first I groaned. But then I decided to swallow my inner Scrooge and play with him. A quote from the story that GWU emailed out to its mailing list helped me, plus a comment by TJED mom Heather Burton:
Now that Christmas is past, will I let the redemptive quality of this “holyday” move me to be better, to live more in happiness with others?
from Dickens’ Christmas Carol:
“He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.”
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol via George Wythe University
So I attempted to live more in “happiness with others” by playing in the snow but it was all work and no play with an ungrateful child! My 11 year old wants to build a hill to use with his new Santa present, a snowboard. Do you know how hard it is build a snow hill? God can do it in a few minutes with wind and lots of snow but it took us hours and it is less than half the the heighth of the house. (Oops, there’s my Scrooge coming out…) 11 year old boy wants it to be as tall the house so he can go snowboarding off the roof! We used a snow shovel and wheelbarrow. My son kept asking why we couldn’t go sledding after we had told him no. I reminded him how to take no answers, that we had decided to go sledding after it stops snowing. I didn’t mean to, but laying a guilt trip on him came out when I reminded him what a gift it was for his mom to be even be out there! I said I had never played in the snow with any of his siblings before (besides going sledding or ice skating). This is the first time I can remember I haven’t had a baby or toddler who needs to nurse/nap/have a diaper change as my youngest is 3 now and I could be out in the snow with kids and not feel stressed about needing to be back inside.
8. Santa brought me both a newfangled curling iron without the clip and some hair clips so I can experiment to figure out the best way to get those mermaid curls. I have attempted with my straightening iron as my daughter showed me but it just goes flat. Here’s the daughter of a girlfriend of mine with the curls I covet:
9. My pumpkin cheesecake was divine!
10. I found more Christmas audios to listen to.
11. My daughter took over my long wished-for event of having homemade Christmas presents from siblings to each other. Something I’ve wanted to do but felt stressed and short on time to do it. So she talked to all the kids and made lists and coordinated who was doing what for whom and helped them. She made her little brother a Lord of the Rings cloak and he is in love with it. Hooray!
Worst of Christmas 2012
1. The mashed potatoes tasted like glue! I thought I was being more organized and prepared and homemakey by getting three members of my family to prepare them on Christmas Eve afternoon so we could leave them in the crockpot overnight and have them be warm to take to Christmas Day dinner. This way I wouldn’t be so stressed and Scroogish about transitioning from opening presents to fixing breakfast to seeing missionary son on Skype to leaving to the relatives for more festivities. Someone of my three helpers, who will remain nameless, helped me prepare them and didn’t follow the recipe and added too much liquid. Then the someone left the crockpot on low instead of warm and started burning them several hours later. When I smelled something going crispy around 11 PM I came over to inspect and sure enough some brown was forming on the bottom so I turned it down to warm. If I were more of a Carol Tuttle type 3/red/controlling person I would have been venting about this all day! They looked so ugly and tasted so bad I was so embarrassed to have them at the family Christmas Day dinner. All my relatives were polite and nobody complained. I didn’t even want to get a picture to compare, but for the record, here are my pretty mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving that turned out perfect and photogenic:
2. The 8 year old was mad he didn’t get his sister’s Santa present so he talked her into trading and then they traded back and he’s still complaining about it.
3. Even though I had a gift card to go shopping with since late August, thanks to one of the above-mentioned generous relatives, I still procrastinated my Christmas shopping to the weekend before Christmas.
4. I didn’t follow through on my prompting to tell my son when I talked to him on the Monday before Christmas Eve when he called from the airport on his way to the mission field NOT to open the package being sent to him to the mission office until Christmas Day. It was his “fun” Christmas present, an indoor basketball foam set. He opened it at the mission office and it didn’t pass the test of mission rules and he had to leave it there in the mission home. If he had taken the box with him to his new apartment and opened it on Christmas Day he would still have it. And we wouldn’t know that we were breaking mission rules. I just feel so bad about this, that he doesn’t have a fun present after eating all the Christmas goodies I sent him. Oh well. Things could be a lot worse. I guess I can have comfort that we’re following mission rules.
5. Christmas Day was the last time I will see my sister till summer. She is moving to Albuquerque. I hate good byes! Here she is with my parents, sibs, and dh. Notice the matching placemats? My sis in law did those with everybody’s name and baby pictures for a Christmas present for my mom one year.
6. I have decided I don’t like the fudge I blogged about earlier as much as I used. to. It’s the shredded coconut. I don’t like that I have to keep chewing the bits of shredded coconut after the fudgey part is gone. I am going to make the fudge again and leave out the shredded coconut and see how it tastes.
I’d love to hear what your best and worst of Christmas was. You can comment below.