This year was a holiday like no other. And by that, I mean that it was probably the least impressive. Here are a few ways that our holiday differed from the holiday I had planned in my head.
1. The tree-cutting disaster. We have always gone to a tree farm to cut down our own tree. It’s always been a fun outing that gets us in the Christmas spirit. That was, of course, when we lived in Florida and could get overheated wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt. This year, our tree-cutting expedition took place in some sleety snow when it was 17 degrees. We had to ride a tractor out to the lot where the good trees were, which meant cold wind whipping us in the face. We grabbed the first tree we came to, whacked it down, and waited for the tractor to retrieve us. Everyone was miserable. Next year we’ll buy a tree at the lot across from the gas station.
2. The Missing Gifts. With the halls decked, I was more into the Christmas spirit than usual. Our new house has an awesome staircase, that we wrapped with garland. I even got a second Christmas tree (artificial) for the entryway. The place was looking good. But wait…what about presents? Usually I am done with my Christmas shopping after Black Friday. Cyber Monday at the latest. This year, I actually did buy many things ahead of time, then hid them. And forgot where I hid them. Thankfully, I had my trusty spreadsheet so I knew what was missing, but I spent two days searching for items that I already had.
3. The Power Outage. We awoke to the major ice storm on the morning of Dec. 22 happy to see that we still had power. Lucy and I settled into the recliner to watch a little Sesame Street while the rest of the family snoozed. Then, at 6:04 am…no more. So, instead of getting all those last-minute things wrapped and cookies baked, we snuggled up, built our first fire and tried to keep warm. We were without power for 45 hours, but luckily, it came back in time for Christmas Eve.
4. Christmas Cookies. Since we hadn’t gone to the store (not knowing when we would be able to refridgerate anything again), we didn’t have the ingredients to make any Christmas cookies, which is usually our Christmas Eve tradition. So, I went by the store and got some of that instant cookie mix. The kids had a great time, but the cookies sucked. I mean, really sucked. Oh well, it’s all about the memories, right?
5. Christmas Eve Lobsters. Usually, our family has a lobster dinner at home on Christmas Eve. This year, we didn’t get around to ordering the lobsters till the power was out, and by then we decided not to get them since we might not even be staying in our own home. Instead, I bought ingredients for Andrew to make chili. He cooked a huge pot and we had an impromptu party with some friends and neighbors. It was wild and crazy with kids everywhere, but totally fun. Maybe even more fun than watching a live lobster go into the boiling pot.
6. Photos. I spend a lot of time on Christmas trying to take the perfect, artful photo of each child opening a gift. This year, I put down the camera. Actually, I put it on a tripod and set the timer to take a photo every 30 seconds. This allowed me to be more present for the presents, and to actually be in some Christmas morning photos. So, there are no beautiful photos of my children with shimmering lights in the background, but here is a time-lapse sequence of the kids finding their Santa gifts.
7. Christmas Cards. Some of you may be asking “Where the hell is our Christmas card?” Well, friends, this, too, changed a little this year. Since it’s our first year to have a white Christmas, I really wanted our family pic to be in the snow. First there wasn’t enough snow. Then one or two kids weren’t around. Then Andrew went out of town. Then we were without power, so I couldn’t blow dry my hair. (Yes, this matters.) So, we didn’t have a chance to take the family pic until Christmas Day. That’s right. After the Santa presents were opened, we had a little breakfast (during which I ruined the sausage ball tradition), and I made the kids get dressed up. Therefore I spent Christmas night editing, uploading, and designing our card. They arrived this afternoon. I will get them in the mail on Monday (well, who are we kidding…maybe Friday). So, for those of you who have put away your Christmas card display for the year, you’ll just have to leave us on the fridge for a while. And for those of you who only know us in blog-land, I’ll post the picture after everyone has received their card. You’ll be amazed how good we look despite everything that didn’t go “right.”
Which leads me to the point of this lengthy blog post. It doesn’t matter. There is not a single picture in this post that anyone will want to pin to Pinterest. It doesn’t matter. Things didn’t go as planned. It doesn’t matter. We didn’t do things that my kids consider traditions, but it didn’t even matter to them. We didn’t start any new traditions, even though this was our first year in a new place. It doesn’t matter. We were with each other. We got to relax. The power outage was a time when we could have stayed busy or done things (like maybe clean the bathrooms), but instead we just hung out. It was kind of nice. I’ve seen a lot of people posting about Christmas stress and Pinterest envy, but we had the most low-key Christmas ever. And I have to admit that I kind of liked it. Next year, we will definitely make Aunt Joy’s cookie recipe instead of that nasty store mix, but otherwise, we may just sit back and relax again, even if there is power.