Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Thoughts

I meant to come here and write a pre-Christmas post of sorts Friday night, but life quickly became very busy.  It's always tough this time of year too because the school has different spirit or theme days, which is a great time to take yearbook photos.  I've already been in to take photos of lunch, outdoor recess and indoor recess but I still hadn't met the photo goal so Thursday morning, I accompanied Emily to class for pajama day photos.  When I returned home, I finished the grocery list for holiday items and headed to the store (one of my least favorite activities.)  Then I finished wrapping everything as I was determined to NOT wrap presents on Christmas Eve.  And I didn't have to this year!  Finally.

The girls had a half day on Friday and I visited all three classrooms to take holiday outfit photos.  After lunch, we visited Santa.  Due to smart planning, our wait time was less than a half hour.


(One child, who expressed an interest in seeing Santa, refused to participate even when I told her I wouldn't take a photo if she didn't want me to.)

Friday afternoon, the girls and I baked and decorated sugar cookies - some for us to eat and some for dessert on Christmas Day.  After dinner (ribs, yummmmm), I made soup for us to reheat and eat for dinner after Christmas Eve mass.  This is when the food prep situation became too insane for me and I need to make changes for next year.  I want to enjoy Christmas, including the days leading up to Christmas, and not run around bitter and annoyed with a sore back because I've spent hours upon hours in the kitchen.  So Friday night, I basically made and cleaned up two dinners (after cleaning up from cookie baking) and started making the lasagna for Christmas dinner.  A family friend, who spends Christmas with us, can't eat gluten, so I roasted eggplant to make her lasagna.  Then I quit for the night.

Saturday morning, Rich and I picked up the house and rearranged furniture, etc.  We met some of Rich's family at a restaurant for a little holiday lunch.  By the time we returned home, there really wasn't time to do much before heading to church (super early so we could sit.)  After dinner, I really just wanted to enjoy the evening (it's Christmas Eve!) but I needed to finish making the lasagnas and pull together an egg casserole for the morning.  (My sister-in-law and brother-in-law joined us for breakfast Christmas morning.)

The tradition in my family is to serve a turkey dinner on Christmas Day but after last year, Rich and I decided to go with an Italian dinner because some of it could be prepared ahead of time or purchased already made (meatballs.)  Admittedly, that did save us time on Christmas Day but I wasn't wowed by the meal and some of that prep time was simply shifted from Christmas Day to right before Christmas Day.

Changes for next year:
  • Christmas Eve dinner needs to be easy.  Pizza will do.  
  • If we host breakfast on Christmas Day, it will be pastries and muffins.    
  • I'm tossing around the idea of breakfast for dinner on Christmas Day.          

Okay, on to the good stuff . . .

(Waiting for Anna to be cathed.)

Christmas Day.  Rich woke us up at 7:45.  I guess Anna had been awake since 6:00 but I was so tired, I slept through any early morning shenanigans.  The girls loved their presents.  They each received about 10-12 small gifts (items such as headbands, socks, Barbie dolls, clothing, small handbags and lotion.)  There were real, non-princess scooters as a big gift and we will be going away for a night in a few weeks.  I have trouble every year balancing how much to give them because I want to give them everything but our parenting style doesn't include overindulgence.  I want them to be grateful for what they have and not always be looking for the next best thing.  Life isn't about material items.  But these are my only babies and I want to spoil them.  (See the struggle.)



I remind the girls every year that Christmas is about giving, and not about what you receive. (Especially with grab gifts.)  Without any prompting from us and without asking for money or to go shopping, they came up with gifts for each other.  And they were very resourceful and creative about it.  My favorite gifts were the coupons Emily made for Allie and Anna allowing them to borrow books and clothing.  Anna used one immediately for an outfit.

Lastly, I have to state that Pinterest has completely ruined the Elf on the Shelf for me.  All I heard this year was how so and so's elf was doing this or that and being funny or naughty and why doesn't our elf do any of those things.  I was tempted to tell them that, unfortunately, our elf may be lazy and unimaginative but no, that's not fair.  Your elf is here to watch you and report back to Santa.  Your elf is not here to provide entertainment or make a mess or do naughty things.  Our elf did branch out this year with respect to hiding spots which were funny/entertaining but then the next morning, he would be back in a "typical" spot.  Grumble, grumble.  I'll end with the funniest statement regarding the elf:  "If I find out you're controlling him, I'm going to be so mad."


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take many photos.  That's my nephew in his Buzz outfit which was one of the highlights of the day.


Anonymous said...

We've battled the food prep/cooking issue in years past and finally figured out menus that work for us. I'm not a huge fan of cooking main courses ahead because then you're cooking the day before, as well as the day of. We do roast chicken with mashed potatoes on Christmas Eve. It's a big meal that doesn't require a ton of hands on cooking time. For Christmas morning it's bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Again, fairly straight forward. For Christmas day we grill steak and shrimp, and roast veggies.

Tracey's Life said...

I hear you on the Christmas prep - Robert and I had breakfast for dinner on Christmas eve, Sabrina chose not to come home for Christmas this year :(

I have done Lasagna for Christmas for years, I make it on Christmas eve at some point and pop it back in the refrigerator until the next day. Meatballs can be made ahead of time and frozen. I heat those on Christmas day in my sauce in a crockpot so I spend very little time in the kitchen that day. Other than making a salad, it is all pre-done. But I don't have little ones, so we are not getting up in the wee hours like you do.

I am hoping you had a wonderful day and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you

Kate said...

Tinkyada Gluten Free Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles are amazing. I've served them to many people and no one has ever noticed the difference. They don't say they're no boil on the box but on the advice of Amazon reviewers I've always made them that way with no issues.

Sarah said...

Erin - I thought of doing a roast chicken with veggies for us on Xmas Eve but we arrive home from church right when the kids want dinner. The timing of mass complicates dinner for us. I agree that's a fairly easy meal.

Tracey - Happy New Year to you too!! Sorry Sabrina didn't come home. Yes, Christmas was very nice.

Kate - thanks for the heads up on the gluten free lasagna noodles. I unfortunately didn't plan ahead and none of the stores around here had any.

BreezieGirl said...

I'm amazed school went all the way up to the 23rd for your kids!

We do potluck style Mexican dinner on Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family. Mass was at 4 (and Father was late!), so we didn't get dinner until 6ish, but we always have chips/salsa and a veggie tray out the second we get back from church to tide us over. Thankfully, most things reheat quickly though.

We do a french toast bake on Christmas morning and it gets prepped the night before. Christmas dinner is the most complicated because it usually all gets done that day (Mom's side of the family). I spent a lot of Christmas afternoon in the kitchen, haha.