Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Chaos (No More?)

I'm a big proponent of the less is more philosophy, but was raised in a "more is more" household.  That's not to say I don't appreciate all that I have or was given, because I do.  A couple years ago, I got fed up with all the "expectations" of what we should do and who we need to see and exchange gifts with.  I wasn't alone & luckily, my SIL and I were able to convince my mom to make some changes.  We stopped doing the Christmas day race; open gifts at home, race to g'mas to open more gifts, quickly put away all gifts & clean up bc guests were coming for early dinner, while being yelled at to hurry up.  Screw that.  We now celebrate/open gift w/G'parents a day or two before Christmas.  We nosh on tapas that everyone contributes and can take our time to open & appreciate what we've received.  It's a much better way to go.  Christmas morning is just our immediate family, so we can sit around in our pjs all morning and enjoy our time together.  This year, we even had Christmas Eve "off" as the hosts of the dinner we usually attend have moved a few hours away.  We decided to opt out bc we didn't want the kids to be up too late.  We were thinking we'd drive around to see the Christmas lights at some of the more dedicated homes in our area.  Instead, we had an impromptu dinner w/neighbors.  Turned out to be one of the best Christmas Eve's ever.  Kids all played together, I made mulled wine & we got properly tossed.  Very fun.  My folks even toned down the gifts this year.  They spent the same amount as usual, (I'm sure,) but when w/the focus on quality instead of quantity.  In the past, the kids have gotten "present fatigue."  This year was pretty much right on.  After opening gifts, all the cousins piled into a back bedroom to play.  They played some with their new gifts, but really, they played with each other.  They get it too, the part of this really being about having fun together.

For many years now, we've gone to see the Nutcracker Ballet.  This year, the Girl Scouts took care of that one for me.  We had a tour of the theater; including the back stage, large props (& how they work,) old costumes and practice stage.  Then we had a hour to eat dinner and then all watched the ballet together.  It was a late night, but the girls really loved it, and it was fun to go with our friends as well.

Christmas in the Park is another tradition we try to take part in every year.  Unfortunately, I got sick the week school got out.  My parents took pity on me (or maybe on my girls,) and took them to go see the event one evening.  (It's way more fun at night.) Not only did my kids get to do the Park at night, (like they wanted.) I was free to curl up on the couch with a blanket and not feel bad about feeling bad. 

We added something new this year.  New for my girls, but sort of a revived tradition for myself.  When I was a kid we would head up to Union Square in San Francisco every December to go see the store windows.   It's crowded and parking is lousy and forget it, if the weather isn't cooperating.  This year I was offered tickets to see "The Grinch, The Musical."  I thought the girls might really like it, so I said yes and invited my mom to join us.  The day of, I was kicking myself for getting us involved in it.  I had tons still to do and had no business driving up to The City.  The musical was awesome and my girls LOVED it.  In hindsight, I'm really glad we went.  The weather was perfect, we got their early, and got nearby parking.  We had time to see some of the store windows and each lunch before the performance.  We had ice cream at Macy's after and when we came out, the Christmas tree was lit up.  It really was a fun day.  I believe it's going to be added to the list of traditions that will continue on each year.

Lastly, one of the big traditions my mom has been big on continuing is Christmas baking.  I have the best kitchen set up for all of us to do this together, so it's at my house.  The day before, I mentioned to DaddySpeak that we were baking at our house & to say he was not pleased, might be a bit of an understatement.  He then voiced that his concern was that I'm always a wreak after we're done.  If it were just the baking or just the cleanup, I'd probably be ok, but all of it together does me in.  I realized he was right.  It was silly of me to kill myself for baked goods that will probably mostly get tossed anyway.  I'd already purchased a gingerbread village, so the girls could decorate, because decorating is really what they're most intersted in doing.  So, I decided not to bake.  I think it might not have been something my mom was thrilled about. But you know what?  I was fine.  I helped the girls with decorating their houses.  I helped my  mom & SIL w/their cookies.  And guess what? I was ok that night & the next day.  Totally doing that again.  One of the smartest moves I've made yet.  For the neighbors we usually exchange baked good with; I printed up 5x7s of their kids that I'd taken over the year & wrote in their cards, "Some people bake, I take pictures."  I got personal thank yous from each of them, so I think it was a hit.

I took a lot on, with being the room mom for LittleSpeak's class.  But I did manage to pace myself this year.  The kids still got to do everything they wanted. And I'm not a complete loss now.  In fact, today we all went bike riding, as a family.  Someone remind me to read this in October next year. This has been a great way to end this year.