Christmas Reprisal

on 27 December 2013

The longer I blog, the more I've come to realize that this space is my mental filing cabinet.  I store memories in here, things that made me laugh, things that made me think and things that we've done and want to do over again, or not as the case may be.

And since there were no pictures from the Christmas eve party, I'll just have to see what I can do in the way of words.

My Girl has been sick.  Again.  The Monday before Christmas eve, she spiked a 103 degree fever and there it stayed for the better part of the day.  I spent the whole day holding her and battling that fever.  I did my best with Tylenol and ibuprofen alternating through the day, but it stayed resolutely high.  I took her in to the doctor at the end of the day and they thought she probably had a secondary infection of bronchitis again.  She didn't sleep much that night and then ended the night in bed with us, a hot, sweaty, listless child in my arms.  Oddly, the fatigue of that night didn't get to me so much as the fear.  Nothing I could do helped, not the medicines, not the fluids, not even holding her.  I really was scared, which is partly why she ended up in our bed.

Tuesday morning dawned and I left her in bed sweet bed with Chris while I went to go feed and walk Hogan.  I came back and her fever was down, not back to normal, but certainly down from what it had been.  And that's when I breathed a great big sigh of relief and set about getting ready for the party that night.

I had long since ceased to care about the party, what we ate, what the apartment looked like, so long as there was Christmas music and everyone gathered and talked and had fun.  So Chris took the menu in hand and oh my holy heck, he went right over the VERGE with the food.  And I just let him.  I vacuumed and made sure that the decorations were looking decent.  I put away coats and shoes and toys and all the detritus of living so that there would be room enough for all the people!  Chris had done some food prep the night before, but here's what the table ended up looking like, are you ready?

  • a large tray of chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A (I made some non-breaded chicken nuggets for my niece who is gluten-free)
  • steak bites with homemade boursin cheese
  • roasted potatoes
  • sausage balls
  • raw veggies with ranch
  • grilled veggie skewers
  • my sister's homemade cheeseball with crackers
  • dill dip to go with the veggies
  • spinach dip (this one is for Chris since no one else eats it)
  • 2 kinds of corn chips
  • salsa
  • bruschetta with fresh mozzarella
  • mini cherry cheesecakes
  • cherry blossoms
  • gingerbread boys
  • oh my heavens, my mother's homemade caramels!  These may have not ended up on the table, but may have been horded by me.
I think that was everything, it seemed like A LOT of food, and it was all delicious, the steak bites were particularly good, tender and juicy and perfectly cooked.

We ate and talked and my Girl hovered between her Nana and her cousins and me and after holding her for almost 48 hours straight, it was a positive joy to see other people holding her and her perfectly contented with the arrangement.

After eating our fill, we handed 'round the Christmas gifts.  It was always tradition in our home growing up that we got to open our presents from our Grandma on Christmas eve.  This was the first year I didn't have a grandma present to open.  It had occurred to me several weeks ago, so I had my nostalgia and sad then rather than Christmas eve night.   Sherry compensated for the lack with a lovely gift certificate to my favorite yarn shop, so there's nothing to be sad about.  And I got to open my present from my Mom.  She gives me wonderful socks every year (it's tradition!) and this year I was more particularly in need of them, so they were most welcome.  The kids opened presents and played and then we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and Matthew 2, and my nephew played various Christmas carols on the violin.  It was wonderful.  Live music in my apartment!  It was almost miraculous.  We play recorded music every single day, but live music sounds so different from recorded music.  And it was utterly charming to watch my Boy figure out which carol it was that Joshua was playing and then start singing along.  But then, I am his mother, I'm charmed by all of his eccentricities.

After that we had a Christmas quiz, because we are a family that prides itself on random facts and unpractical knowledge.  And then it was time to tuck children into bed and clean up.  Chris helped me put food away (he had done a MUCH better job than usual about cleaning as he went along, so the clean up wasn't that terrifying) and then he went to go put Hogan to bed for the night, while I set about making cinnamon rolls to bake in the morning.  It was a long night, but seeing how Christmas day played out, it was well worth it!


I was up before dawn on Christmas day.  I headed out to feed and walk Hogan and watch the sunrise.  We've been doing this for so long that watching the sunrise on Christmas morning has come to feel like my own personal tradition.  I was so tired, but it was so beautiful that I didn't mind at all.  Chris managed to wake up before the kids could ambush the living room without me, so he kept the kids in their room until I got home, then we gathered around the tree to open stockings and presents. 

We're not the kind of parents that believe children should be spoiled at Christmas.  I try to hit my 4 main categories (something to wear, something to read, something to play with and something they need) and I try not to spend a lot of money.  Partly out of necessity and partly out of stubborn determination.

And here's where I digress for a moment.  Santa visits our house.  Our kids are really good, so I'm pretty sure they're on the Nice list.  But we don't play Santa up in a grand way (we don't take the kids for pictures with Santa, and we don't leave out cookies and milk.  The Boy wrote a letter to Santa this year, but it was more to practice his handwriting than an exercise in belief).  He brings the kids 1 gift each, and it's something FUN.  He also brings things for their stockings that their Mother doesn't supply them with.  So this year Santa put the small travel boxes of sugared cereal (we call it dessert cereal in our house) because my parents used to do that for Me when I was a kid and I LOVED it.  That said, Santa isn't the focus in our house.  Being good Mormon folk, we keep Jesus Christ as the center of our celebrations. 

So Christmas morning is a pretty tame affair in our house.  We opened stockings and the Boy was in charge of handing out the Christmas gifts, but because he's 5 and not the least bit methodical, it was a leisurely, meandering sort of unwrapping.  It was really nice, actually.  The kids would open a present and then get distracted playing and Chris would open something and marvel at the gift and I would open something and chuckle at the thoughtfulness of the giver, and then it would begin all over again.  About 2/3 of the way through, my Girl started to freak out and melt down, and tow Chris and I over to the piles of paper and wrappings so, we got out a trash bag and cleaned it up and then she was good to go again.  I had a good laugh about that one, and added "can't tolerate disorder" to the list of quirks she inherited from her mother.

I baked the cinnamon roll while we unwrapped and after the wrapping was all cleaned up we sat down to warm cinnamon rolls and leftover sausage balls for breakfast.  I restored myself to my cozy nightgown and we listened to Christmas carols and watched the kids play with their toys all morning long.

The miracle of the day was the 3 hour long nap I gifted myself.  It was heaven!

And that was our day, really.  It was quiet, small and uniquely Burnstopia.  And after all the work, all the stress, all of the hoopla and busy-ness that had been the whole month since Thanksgiving, it was a welcome relief.