The holidays are officially over. In the past 10 days, we've celebrated Jesus's birth, Teddy's 16th, and 2017...each numerous times. So many beginnings and endings, joy moments, memories made. The kids are back to school and I think I may feel as tepid about that sad fact as they do. Yet I'm grateful for the quiet house, and the solitude. The time not to deChristmas, but to linger just a little longer in the warmth, goodwill and magic of it all. I have all the trees (3) and boughs lit, I'm listening to carols and I am holding on hard and fast to the hygge. In fact, I just put another ornament on the tree. It's true.
Every year at this time it occurs to me that there are two kinds of people: those who linger and those who forge ahead faithfully into the future. I am of the former camp. I'll bask for as long as possible, which is to say until the tree is about needlebare and all the Irish cream is consumed. This season is a welcome and holy sojourn. The calm and glow and peace that seem to say retreat, rest are invitations I gladly accept. It's much more than tranquility though...it's beatitude. All the togetherness, merriment and celebration finally cease and what remains is a hush. This is the time for introspection and stillness. This is the place for being not doing.
And after the fullness of this holiday stretch, it feels right to simply take stock and sit with it all.
The week leading up to Christmas was already festive...filled with family and friends. Why not go out for dinner on a Monday night? Of course, we should host a holiday gathering on a Thursday eve. Spirits were high and stress low despite the fact that there was still plenty to do. I took Teddy out to do some shopping on the Eve Eve and wasn't the least bit rattled. In fact, it was fun. Shopping with Teddy the night before Christmas was fun. Say that 5 times fast without rolling your eyes or busting out laughing. All the presents were wrapped (thanks Love), the table was set, and the menu prepared in plenty of time. It was a family affair.
Lily rolled out of bed Christmas Eve morning to immediately get baking in the kitchen. She was responsible for that night's dessert: Comet Cupcakes. The frosting called for marshmallow cream, but that didn't make the grocery list so she (with the help of her dad) whipped up her own and it was 10 times better than the store-bought fluff. Peanut even agreed.
I made the dough for our traditional Christmas morning cinnamon buns. They're Teddy's favorite. In fact, he can almost eat a whole pan all by himself, but we don't let him. I don't even particularly like cinnamon buns, but I do like these. This year I put extra love into them just knowing that we would be able to take our time Christmas morning and not have to rush through our celebration to get to another.
My goal was to use what I had this year. I didn't buy any new wrapping paper, ribbon or decorations and everything was beautiful proving once again that we have enough and what we have is good enough. It's incredibly powerful and satisfying not to let perfect ruin good. I had plans to stop for fancy fresh flowers and simply forgot so my everyday market had to do. It did.
Despite the fact that it was our year to host, we were ready without any angst or angina with time to spare. We managed to pose by the tree before mass. Although these aren't the best pictures, again they're fuzzy, but fine. Evidence that we came and celebrated and look a lot alike.
We arrived at church as planned: 20 minutes before the concert. We sat in our pew with a view of the candle and twinkle-lit church and I'm telling you I felt peace wash over me as soon as I kneeled to pray. Grandma Judy came early to accompany us and we loved having her share in the beautiful music and the hallowed mass. When Father Tim began the procession, Ted leaned over to fist pump me. I don't know that it's exactly kosher to do that in church, but we did. We were all lightened to have our favorite priest at the pulpit. And just writing this I seem to remember a time when Ted actually gave Father Tim knocks, and he too reciprocated. I was only a tad verklempt that my two weren't in the children's procession. I was mostly happy to have them beside me knowing and feeling the importance of this holy day. They no longer want to be angels or shepherds, but they want to be in church. I wanted to take pictures at the altar after mass like we always do, but I knew we were already likely to come home to a kitchen-full of guests so we skipped. It was another lesson in going with the flow and forgoing perfect.
Remind me never to put my family on appetizers. We didn't need dinner. The spread was impressive and delicious. We munched and made merry before retiring to the living room for our annual white elephant gift exchange. It's always much anticipated and it's always much fun. This year's winners: Lily with her unicorn lamp in all it's gold glory, Uncle Leroy with his Trump Christmas sweater, my dad with his miracle ear, and we all coveted the handset for our cell phones. At some point everything old is new again.
We took a break from presents to have dinner. While Mike and I plated the meal, everyone enjoyed the salad course, which was greens topped with candied pecans, pear and fried goat cheese dressed with a mustard herb vinaigrette. Dinner was our traditional menu of grilled tenderloin, sauteed shrooms, baked potatoes, roasted lemon asparagus, spinach stuffed tomatoes and rolls. We had no room for dessert, but everyone went home with a platter of Aunt Loie's Christmas cookies and Lily's Christmas cupcakes. Dessert is always much appreciated with coffee the morning after.
The kids were very patient because after dinner it was finally present time. It was almost 11 o'clock mind you. I believe we were all sufficiently spoiled most of all Lily and Ted. I was excited that my brother liked his cowboy boots, surprised that my dad wanted a pair of Ray Bans and delighted to get a sassy pair of Ugg slippers.
I was first up on Christmas morning just the way I like it. I made coffee, lit candles, and turned on all the twinkly lights. Then I waited patiently and happily. Mike finally had to wake the kids mid-morning. We don't miss being shagged out of bed at dawn one bit. We took our time opening gifts. Time like 2 hours. Then we baked and frosted our traditional cinnamon buns and fried up the Christmas kielbasa for breakfast only we didn't eat until close to 2 o'clock. We stayed in our cozies all day long playing games and watching movies, and it was my favoritist ever. We ordered Chinese for dinner even-though no one was really hungry and watched The Godfather, and it was perfectly festive.
The cats had a very good Christmas too. These two are spoiled 365 days of the year.