Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home for the holidays

I've found holidays complicated and somewhat stressful as an adult. Navigating the family expectations does that to me. This year is the first, since B was born, that we will be here, at home, just the 4 of us for Christmas and B's birthday. I'm really looking forward to it, and already enjoying the lack of trying to plan and execute travel plans.

On the other hand, there is a lot of pressure, in trying to pull off our first at-home Christmas and try to establish some family traditions. I'm trying to keep it simple and focus on a few things that were meaningful to me as a child, that I'd like to pass on.

While the boys were away, I decorated the house---window box decorations, a new wreath, greenery and LED lights on the bannister, and our usual 4 foot artificial (ornament-filled for the first year) tree. Our closets are also bursting with presents, for Christmas and for B's birthday the next day---and more are on the way (Apparently B wrote a letter to Santa yesterday at school and asked for something I'd never heard him mention before. I spent quite a while trying to explain that Santa may not get exactly what he asked for...blah blah lots of kids, last minute request. then I caved and went on ama.zon and a dollhouse is on its way). I got a gingerbread house kit that I'll pull out on Christmas day, and some DVDs of classic TV specials.

These are all things I enjoy doing; there are no gifts for adults or really anyone else, no cards we are trying to send out (we usually send one out in January and have already taken the family pic for it), only giftcards for teachers, no batches of cookies to take anywhere or swap with anyone---none of that shopping and making and buying that we used to do until we realized we didn't have to and nobody cared.

B's having a party Saturday, at home, and Frozen-themed, per his request. I ordered a 1/4-sheet cake to pick up and bought figurines and blue powdered sugar snow to put on top, balloons & streamers are on their way, favors ready to go, and 3 Frozen-themed activities planned. We will order 3 large cheese pizzas. 10 kids are coming, plus their parents. I hope he'll have a blast; he's never had his friends over to our house before and has asked for it several times recently.

For his actual birthday, we'll do what we usually do for L---decorate the kitchen, blow up more balloons, and presents after breakfast. We'll make our own little cake. Hopefully the weather will be OK, because G bought him a new 2-wheeled scooter that we could go play with at the park. I got surprise tickets to a children's theater production for the evening & we'll get dinner after.

I want it to be special, 5 is a big birthday, and he's never spent it with just us before.

10 more days, and then I can breathe a sigh of relief! 


  1. We're going to my in-laws this year. My MIL has decided on a roller-skating themed family birthday party for our post-Christmas kid. :) Sometime in January we will have a Pokemon party at the local game store (he's outgrown museum parties, we think).

    As much as I like staying home and having a peaceful Christmas, there's something to be said for my in-laws taking care of everything and going all out. Trade-offs! At least we got a peaceful Thanksgiving this year.

    1. Yeah, that sounds really fun. We did the in-law thing for the past 4 years, so we are ready for a break (will probably get back to it next year, since we won't be as able to travel off season with a kid in "real" school)

  2. You sound really on top of things! I'm trying, this year. It really is a lot of work/money/stress, but it's also cool to think of being able to create that kind of joy for kids. Some years I just can't manage it, though.

    I have a New Years' baby, and last year we did nothing for her. (It was her first birthday, too, so really terrible!) This year, we are going to have a party in mid-January, because that's when we anticipate having the money and energy. I am looking forward to it. On her birthday itself, we'll have cake, with one of those NYE party kits with the noisemakers, hats, leis, etc

  3. Dollhouses are AWESOME. Dyl continues to get mileage out of the one her grandpa got her a year ago. Sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. We had Christmas with my family this year for the first time since 2011. In 2012 we were on a ski holiday in Japan with the ILs & 2013 was a beach holiday with all the ILs (11 adults, 3 kids). My family has FULL ON tradition to uphold which is fun but a bit exhausting (think a 20 person gingerbread house decorating day, a lunch menu that has been the same as long as I can remember & Christmas morning breakfast with a fully dressed table, Christmas Eve seafood dinner...) in a sense it's a lot of work, but the nice thing is that the menu is always the same so I no longer need to consult recipes & can allocate jobs to my siblings and everyone knows what is expected.

    Because we will almost always have Christmas with either my family or my ILs, I'm trying to establish a few traditions that cross over. In both families I'm responsible for the glazed ham and I make a port & orange cranberry sauce. Both families have a traditional Christmas breakfast- this year I made a panettone French toast casserole for my family & I think I'll make it for the ILs too. Mind you, I've got no idea where the ILs Christmas will be next year - possibly Europe although there was some talk of Christmas with the extended family at a campsite for 60 people...

    I've also got a New Year's baby who is turning 5. It's summer here so a couple of days before her birthday I'm inviting a few of her friends (mostly the ones that overlap with my friends) for a play in the paddling pool & ice cream cake. Then on her actual birthday she's requested fish & chips for dinner by the beach. And trifle for dessert. Possibly we may have the trifle the next day as I don't think it will work with fish & chips...

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