"The saddest thing about life is you don't remember half of it. You don't even remember half of half of it. Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth. I've got this friend Bob who writes down everything he remembers. If he remembers dropping an ice cream cone on his lap when he was seven, he'll write it down. The last time I talked to Bob, he had written more than five hundred pages of memories. He's the only guy I know who remembers his life. He said he captures memories because if he forgets them, it's as though they didn't happen, it's as though he hadn't lived the parts he doesn't remember."And so, even though this is a very imperfect account that doesn't even attempt to be more or less up to date, it is the only account I have at the moment.
Come Christmas time, I always have this crazy long list of things I want to make/do. I tried to be reasonable this year so I just let a lot of great ideas and intentions go. The tree skirt I have been meaning to make for 3 years? It is going to be at least 4. The homemade ornaments I was going to make? Well, they will save for next year too (or the year after that).
Things we did do:
- We made homemade gingerbread cookies. I even found some natural food dye (at a store that shall not be named) so my kids could have fun with the decorations vs just resorting to plain white icing like we have done in the past. Although, in the spirit of honesty, I messed up the frosting and it was super grainy, but don't tell the kids. I don't think they noticed.
- We did make *some* homemade ornaments. I introduced perler beads to my children (and it was the first year for me too), and they went a little gaga. As in, we are still making ornaments in January for next year. We just used the patterns from the perler bead website.
- We continued with our Christmas book advent. Although this year it was a bit harder as we often didn't have time to read the book before Finn had to go to school. However, it still one of my favorite traditions.
- We made homemade Christmas cards, and I typed up a Christmas letter. In case you are rolling your eyes at the craftiness of it all, I will say 1) it keeps my kids occupied. 2) I have a Christmas card list that is in the 30's. We keep it to immediate family and really close friends. 3) I am not sure that the end product is really to be desired, but by golly, people are getting them anyway. Oh, and then I throw in a family picture in there that we might have taken during the year and print it off at Target. #lowexpectations.
- We went to some local events although not as many as I would have liked. My town really takes their Norwegian heritage seriously, so we started the Christmas season by holding the hands of strangers while making a circle around a Christmas tree and singing carols. We also ogled grown men and women dressed as Vikings and carrying torches, and we tried not to burn ourselves when said vikings lit "the yule log" or as any normal person would call it, a pyre. And eventually, we took a drive to see some Christmas lights.....but after Christmas.
- I made the necessary treats that show up in the Christmas stockings: homemade fig newtons, gingerbread people, chex mix, and protein snack balls. I had more elaborate plans, but those got scaled back, and I did what was manageable.
- The kids made giant Christmas trees to decorate their bedroom doors with. Mr. F. is king of fun projects, and as you can guess, this was all his idea. The kids *loved* this.
- We took the kids Christmas shopping. This was a first for us. We helped kids pay for the toy and tried to keep the toy in a reasonable price point. I was impressed by the thought that went into the gift. They picked what they thought the other would like, and they were right! I loved seeing how excited they were for the other person to open their gift.
- We had our second annual shepherd's meal. This is where we spread out a blanket on the floor near the Christmas tree and eat a meal of naan, salami, clementines, dried fruit, goat cheese, etc. by the light of the Christmas tree lights. We then read the Christmas story. I love this new tradition of ours since it is such a low key plus meaningful way to spend Christmas eve. However, it does present a problem of when to have a "nice" Christmas dinner. We ended up having ours on the 26th as neither Mr. F. or I were interested in cooking Christmas day. Any one have a similar issue out there?
- I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I am still on a quest for the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll. I made one up this year (and last year's too), and it still needs a lot of work (or just an actual recipe, perhaps?). I also made a hash brown casserole with bacon and veggies that the children spurned, but ended up saving my butt when I didn't want to make dinner that night. Casserole anyone?
If this Christmas had a theme, it was "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I am still a novice at balance when it comes to the holidays, but I am trying to be better. And honestly, my health (or lack there of during stressful situations) keeps me in check. I want to find this mystical balance between enjoying the holidays and also structuring them to make them exciting for all of us. But, I guess that is the point, it doesn't really exist. I can only pat myself on the back for my effort this year.
The best thing I did was to take pictures so I can remember the good times. You can see more here.