Now that Xmas is over with, there is time to sit and reflect. As one would expect with a toddler/preschooler, it was a very different year. There were some things that were very trying and some things that will make me smile forever. I suppose when it was all said and done, I felt a whole lot like Clark W. Griswold, Jr. at the end of Christmas Vacation when he says “I did it,” surrounded by what’s left of his house, dancing SWAT team members, crazed relatives, and a snot-covered Rottweiler. Thankfully, there were no Rottweilers, and no SWAT team members. The house was intact. There were some somewhat-crazed relatives. Some were snot-covered.
My Xmas guest list was fairly reasonable. My mom, her husband, and my boss were due to eat the main meal served 2:00’ish and Will’s people were to arrive later around 4:00 or so for coffee and pie. I would love to have everyone at once but I simply don’t have enough chairs. Or forks and glasses. Or energy, for that matter. I planned on making grits and grillades for the main course but had drawn the line at dessert; we were cheating this year and buying pre-made stuff, but I considered it to be a concession to being pregnant and too tired to do so much. I went into the day with my plan, including what needed to go to into the oven/on the stove when to ensure we hit our target time. I had my mise en place done as much as possible, although that fell through at the end due to issues.
Now it’s time for the issues:
- After weeks and weeks of going to bed nicely for me by 6:30, Stella chose Xmas eve to develop a new bedtime of 8:00. I reclined in the bed with her in the dark for an hour and a half, with her kicking the wall, singing, and occasionally running around the darkened house while I stressed about all the stuff I was not able to get done. She wasn’t going to go to bed on time. She hasn’t since. This may have been a function of some of the other issues. Regardless, I got less than half of my mise done, and that was only for the breakfast dishes.
- A great plague began sweeping our area late the week before Xmas. Just about everyone got it and I may be battling now. My mother fell ill first. This necessitated her staying away from us. Kind of her to do but it did cut my would-be holiday work-force in half. Instead of having someone that could run interference with Stella, I had to rely on Daddy’s iPad1 and apps to try to mesmerize her while I rushed to mop the house in a grid pattern to keep little footprints out of the wax. Mopping with a toddler? Impossible and exhausting. Will also got the plague and factor that in with the whole working retail at Xmas, I did not nor have not seen my husband in weeks. He has been going to work and going to sleep. It’s all he can do. The plague also kept my boss away Xmas day. I wanted to at least bring him a plate of food, but was prevented from doing that by issue 3.
- The weather Christmas day was to be epic. They actually started posting watches for us 2 days prior, which is odd. The day started hot2. We did get some nasty stuff. Fortunately for us it wasn’t “there’s a mean lady on a bicycle riding past our second story window” bad but there were some very high winds, hard rains, and some areas very close by did get tornadoes. The weather kept Will’s people away, so all in all, we only ended up hosting my mom and her husband3. It made me even more glad I didn’t try to kill myself making homemade dessert.
- Playing Santa was harder than I thought!! Starting with Stella fighting sleep, to Will being puny and having to work Xmas eve day, I felt like I was running way behind. We got her a great folding medieval castle as her big toy. Will selected that and I thought it was an awesome idea. It’s wooden and built to last, so BY can use it later. It’s also not disgustingly girly. I did order some neat-o furniture (also wood and great price/quality compared to the typical plastic stuff) and random dolls to play in it, including a Dora doll. Will was concerned the scale of the furniture and dolls was just slightly too big for the castle, but I knew Stella wouldn’t care and that the stuff wouldn’t stay in the castle long, anyway. We went to finally set it up but had 2 issues nestled under this heading:
- Will sleeps at least 1-2 hours longer than Stella and I do. We had to delay Xmas morning (or Stella’s discovery of it) as long as possible so he wouldn’t miss anything. Hence, we had to find a way to put the castle set up under/near the tree in a way which would allow us to drape something over it. Kind of a buzz-kill, but OK Next year he’s just going to have to wake up with the rest of us.
- We were terrified that no matter what we did or where we put stuff, one of the 3 stupid cats would pee on it4. Bastards. The whole thing was frustrating and totally did not match my ideal Xmas/Santa vision.
Now lest you dub me Ebenezer or a Negative Nellie, all of the above was totally negated by the 30 minutes of gifts and Santa time. This was the first year Stella got the whole opening present thing, and she did so with gusto5. To be fair and accurate, however, it did start with a Xmas tantrum. We decided to start with stockings, since Santa had left some little goodies like new paints. Being much skinnier and cuter, I put Will in charge while I manned the iPhone camera. Will got Stella’s down, which was cause for much excitement. She had been hollering about stockings(!) for weeks. She immediately tried to put her foot in it. Of course. Then she became momentarily furious when her father took it from her and tried to explain that no, feet don’t go in stockings. The tantrum commenced. Fortunately, it was brief once she found out there was cool stuff inside.
After the “regular presents” we moved to the Big One. We ended up setting the castle up on top of the dining room table near the tree with a sheet over it. I had pulled all the chairs away, as our emotional pee-er is not athletic enough to jump on top of the table to target an item unless he can use a chair. We got Stella’s attention by shouting “look what Santa brought” and she ran to the fence. Her little eyes just got huge and she started reaching for it while saying “ OK, OK ” It was just awesome. I have it on video but am clearly not smart enough to post that here. It made me so happy to see how happy she was. To hell with sickness and fatigue and bad weather and cats. Who cares that her big present wasn’t set up “just so” under the tree? It was magic.
We moved the castle and the slightly-too-big dolls and furniture to the coffee table. She played with that thing for hours. Dora “went potty” a lot, followed by the declaration of “P.U! Stinky!” Master Chief (some action figure Will found from the Halo video games, I think??) joined the party and cooked dinner in one of the turrets. One of the dolls was named “grandma,” in honor of my mom’s husband. Yes, he’s been dubbed “grandma.” That’ll teach these parents to try to pick their own grandparent name!!
It is without a doubt my favorite Xmas moment of all freaking time. I know there will be lots of others. After all, we’re about to add another little kid to the family. While he won’t get it next year, Stella will get it even more. Next year, I’ll have to fight her to go to sleep Xmas eve because she’s excited about Santa, not just because she would rather sing and kick the wall.
This was a long one, but I wanted to get it all down in black and white before upcoming events cause my mind to blur away the details. I hope you all had a magnificent Xmas in your own way.
1 I would hereby nominate Apple for every available Nobel prize if they would donate an iPad to every household with a young child. The benefits are countless. The educational apps available are amazing, so they would be helping by educating an entire generation of children. Good for the US’s future work force and, by extension, economy. They would be helping women’s health by decreasing the blood pressure and stress levels of mothers across the nation. This, in turn, would probably have a good impact on marital success rates. Finally, sanitation would improve tenfold by virtue of the fact that A) moms could actually shower when necessary vs having to wait until there’s an available adult to keep the children off the kitchen counter and out of the garbage can, and B) there would be more opportunity for thorough cleaning. This sanitation would also help improve marital success rates, as I don’t know about you but I get PISSED OFF when I can’t bathe once in 3 damn days unless doing so by moonlight and going to bed with dripping hair.
2My mom had ordered us matching family Xmas pj’s, which was sweet. Unfortunately, as they are wont to do, Xmas pj’s are designed to keep one warm. Not cool when it’s hot outside. We waited until just before opening gifts to put the damn things on and I took them off less than 3 minutes of my mom’s arrival. I told her next year I wanted matching family Xmas Hawaiian shirts.
3 I just really realized after seeing it in black and white that I call my mom’s husband “her husband.” Yes, he’s my stepfather and is a great guy. We like him an awful lot. I guess I call him “her husband” as they married when I was in my 30’s already and it seems odd to get a new “stepfather” in your 30’s. It must just be a stupid brain-block I have as he’s been in the family now for years.
4 Baby Jesus got 3 wise men. I get 3 stupid cats. Rather than gold, frankincense, and myrrh, I get cat pee, cat vomit, and hairballs.
5 As a matter of fact, during last night’s battle royale over going to bed, she was STILL hollering about Santa Clause and opening presents.