Micro Blogging the Holidays

Well, hello there! You take a break from the blog for a couple of weeks, and they go and start a whole new year on you. Happy 2015!

I had lots of ideas for blogging over the holidays, but it just seemed so much easier to roll over on the couch, grab yet another cookie, and then continue reading Bossypants on my Kindle. Needless to say, it was a good break. But now, I will capture as many of those vitally-important social commentary notes as I can remember through the butter-and-sugar-filled haze, as I have been reading a few non-fiction family histories lately and suddenly it seems key that I record every single thing we did. Future generations will want to know!

Christmas Eve Shopping. About 15 years ago, when I was a young newlywed, my husband and I were packing up to visit the folks on Christmas Eve, and I decided I needed some slippers to take with me. So we went to the mall, and it took us an hour to get into the parking lot and find a spot, 15 minutes to buy slippers, then an hour and a half to exit the parking lot. Thus began my ban on shopping in December.

This year, however, we found ourselves in a similar last minute situation when the zipper on the Little Miss’ coat showed signs of failure, and we were just about to leave for a week’s worth of visits to Southern Ontario. So on December 24 we went out early and managed to score her a new coat at the MEC for half price, and it was surprisingly quiet and civilized. So we dared to brave the mall – Gal Smiley had lost her hat – and were in and out of the Sports Experts in less than half an hour total. Amazing.

Later that day I was driving past the Chapters and after the success of the morning, thought I’d pop in to pick up the Captain the next book in the series he is reading, for the trip, and it was a MADHOUSE. I can understand people having to run out to pick up just one or two last things on Christmas Eve, but I am amazed, AMAZED, at the people in there who had armfuls and armfuls of stuff. Who were spending like, $200 or more. Isn’t that like, ALL their shopping? On the very last possible day? How do these people SURVIVE without lists and planning? It just doesn’t seem possible.

Anyway, we managed to get the book but I can’t say my views on December 24 shopping have been reformed.

Christmas Eve Movies. We went to the movies on the afternoon of December 24 and it was delightful – not too crowded and a nice way to while away the afternoon. Often we do a museum or something but everyone was a little sick, so this was all we could handle. The boys went to see The Hobbit (mini-review: Sir Monkeypants feels it was OVERPADDED and UNNECESSARY and should have STUCK TO THE BOOK, it is his own personal Little Mermaid, which often elicits a rant from me about how EVERYONE IS SUPPOSED TO DIE AT THE END, STUPID DISNEY); I took the girls to see Annie (mini-review: absolutely delightful first 3/4, totally blown ending, GAH).

Anyway, this may become a new tradition.

Christmas Travel. For possibly the first time ever, no one got really sick while we were away – a few sniffly noses, a dry cough on the Little Miss, that was it. A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

Despite this, however, both Sir Monkeypants and I sheepishly admitted to each other on the drive home that we are both kind of tired of travelling for the holidays. We definitely want to see the people. It definitely will not feel like Christmas if we don’t see the people. And frankly, I’m not sure how I would ever live with the crushing guilt of not seeing the people. But having to pack up everything on Christmas Day, then drive on Boxing Day, and sleep in strange beds, arriving home tired with most of the break gone – getting old. Adding to the ennui is the fact that we repeat this same trip for every single March Break, Thanksgiving, and half of Sir Monkeypants’ summer vacation, leaving only one week each year for us to vacation without visiting family. HMMMMM. Not that we have any immediate plans to change things, but the thought of possibly, one day, changing the system, is there.

Do you visit your families in a sleepover/travel kind of way at Christmas? Every year? What’s your plan? I’m curious.

New Year’s Eve. Every year for New Year’s we make it a point to be home, and have cheese fondue (shout out to my friend Erica, who started me on the cheese fondue tradition back in high school, and whose family recipe I still use today). The Captain is milk-allergic, however, so this year we added a broth fondue at the other end of the table (shout out to my friend RheostaticsFan, who introduced us to the whole broth fondue concept earlier this year). It was awesome, and then later that night we had a chocolate fondue too, and it was awesome, and lo, a new tradition is born.

Funny story: Gal Smiley played “Auld Lang Syne” for her Christmas piano recital this year, which led to a discussion of New Year’s Eve, and all three of my children were shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that some people stay up until midnight to welcome in the new year. Like, they had NO idea this was a thing, it was not even on their radar as a holiday of any kind.

So of course this year, they all swore they’d stay up for it, but we were mean parents and put them to bed later-than-usual but still within-sanity-limits. After the little one was in bed, I watched Guardians of the Galaxy with the older two (mini-review: Oh boy did I LAUGH AND LAUGH, thought it was the perfect fluffy fun. Recommended!).

Puzzles. While at my mom’s house, I got out a 500 piece puzzle I found downstairs, and it was so fabulous – a kitty puzzle shaped like a kitty, containing several individual pieces shaped like kitties! Behold:


Photo courtesy of Gal Smiley.

The whole extended family worked on it together and it took all day, and was a major accomplishment. It reminded me how much I like to do puzzles. Resolved: do more puzzles in 2015.

And that brings us to this new year, full of hope and promise and renewed energy. I have so much to say about my plans – BIG PLANS – for 2015, but that’s for another day. In the meantime, stay warm – it’s way nippy out there – and hope your return to the routine was a little less painful than mine (JESUS, 6 a.m. comes EARLY, especially when you’re all out of cookies).

9 thoughts on “Micro Blogging the Holidays

  1. smothermother

    6am came WAY too early this morning. I’m still grumpy.

    We travel every Christmas. We actually drive on Christmas day. Because the heavens will come crashing down if turkey dinners are had on December 26! I am getting grumpier every year, but this is the sacrifice I make to make the hubby not feel all the guilt. I also get to sleep on a hide-a-bed with the jellybean who likes to play piano on my kidneys with his toes and share my pillow while snoring and drooling. Happy fun times I tell ya. I did however put my foot down and we were back home in 5 days and I had a full week in my house. That hasn’t happened in a decade.

  2. First off a Christmas puzzle is one of our 25 days of Christmas activities. This year I managed to pick the world’s hardest puzzle. It’s still sitting here on the coffee table mocking the whole family. Grandma Sandi comes tomorrow to send the girls off to school and I’m really hoping she puts a huge dent in it. You’ll find me dancing a jig in the front yard when we finally finish it. When it comes to Christmas traveling, my brother and family usually travel to us, but this year we went there. So I really can’t complain too much about it, but it’s far from ideal. The travel part sucks, but the alternative and the guilt sucks as well.

    1. Oooh…I love the idea of there being an official Christmas Puzzle. My mom has dozens so I expect it will become a tradition when (if?) we visit over the holidays – but now I want to do it here, too! I’ve actually started a new one, a 1000 piece that is a bunch of teddy bears and every single piece looks like fuzzy grey/beige. SO aggrivating, but then, when you do get a piece in – MAJOR HIGH. It’s the classic “sometimes reward” behaviour cycle!

      1. You could always start your Christmas puzzle at the beginning of the month. Plenty of time to finish before/if you travel. And I meant to mention New Year’s. A bunch of us gather at our friends house, kids in tow. We have potluck appetizers. The adults play cards while the kids terrorize the rest of her house playing video games or watching movies. It’s completely loud and chaotic. At midnight it’s sparkling grape juice, noise makers and lots of hugs. It’s my favourite night of the year. Maya’s usually the youngest at 8, the oldest are in the 16 – 18 year old range now. It’s a nice easy evening that the whole family can attend that’s also close to home.

  3. Traveling to see the folks on Xmas is impractical for us, as they’re so far away (California/Southern Ontario). I do miss being with everyone — full family get-togethers are always a ton of fun — but we’ve gotten used to it. We’ve had in-laws come visit a few times and that’s nice, but not exactly a tradition.

    Xmas eve shopping is definitely out for me too, but I get absolutely everything possible online. (I’m sure you do too.) I think this must be one of the reasons your experience wasn’t so bad this year.

    The New Year’s Eve story was interesting. For a couple of years now (definitely last year, maybe the year before) we’ve encouraged our boys (now 6 and 8) to try to stay up until midnight. They’re always psyched about it too. This year elder son finally made it, though he definitely admitted to getting tired. Younger son announced “I feel as wide awake as I always do” sometime shortly after 11:00, and crashed about 5 minutes later. He denies (as he always does) that he fell asleep – “I was just pretending to be asleep!”. We typically skip dinner and just make lots of finger food (pigs in blankets, etc) and watch the Times Square show. We had cheese fondue ready but it ended up being redundant so we skipped it. Always good fun though.

    I love the idea of a family puzzle project over the holidays – definitely doing that next year (or maybe even for summer vacation).

    Great post!

    1. Huh, online shopping. Of course! I can’t believe I didn’t even think of that as a reason why things were quieter than they were 15 years ago. But I’m sure that is it – online shopping has totally changed my life, I guess to the point where I couldn’t even imagine what life was like before it. How quickly we forget!

      How often do you guys manage to make it home? We fall into the awkward valley of too-close-not-to-come, but too-far-to-be-convenient-or-fun. Just wondering what your family expects of you – are they pleasantly surprised when you make it, or making with the bitter comments every year when you don’t? How do you manage their expectations?

      Also – loved the story about the boys on New Year’s. I was also TOTALLY PRETENDING to be asleep. 🙂

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