Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Baking

I intended on getting ahead.  I wrote it on my calendar and everything.  Still, every day I couldn't get that extra batch of cookies done, or those presents wrapped as soon as they got home from the store.  Presents were supposed to get knitted up, but I got distracted by other projects, and some days I was just sore and didn't want to do anything.
Mmmm...butter...the main ingredient in Christmas baking.


But it's only December 4th, I keep telling myself.  Only 20 days to Christmas Eve.  I suppose the added pressure is this year I'm a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  I know when this baby comes, all bets are off on whether or not any baking will get done, or any presents will get wrapped.

This year we are doing a little extra as well, as I finally put my foot down and said I wanted some time to celebrate Christmas with just Knut and I and our kids.  For the last 10 years of our marriage, we have rotated between our 2 families, which I think is pretty normal.  We still will continue to do that.  However, our extended families are so large!

When we celebrate Christmas in town, we celebrate with the large extended family (Knut's grandparents and cousins) and we celebrate separately with Knut's parents and siblings.  Those years are pretty easy.

Other years we celebrate with my family down in Arizona.  Or, I should say we celebrate with my parents and grandparents, and then we celebrate with my step-dad's mom and brothers.  That would be easy if it stopped there.  However, we then we come back home and celebrate with Knut's parents, and then his grandma and family on his other side.  Christmas just never ends those years.

We never really open presents around our tree.  There is very little space left for our little family to have many traditions, and last year after we got back from our trip, and celebrated Christmas #5 I snapped a bit.  Silje is now 8 years old, and has no memory of any special Christmas at her own home.  She's half way through childhood, and we've just done nothing...besides go everywhere else.

So I braced myself and told Knut that I wanted a piece of Christmas for our family.  It was important to me.  I know the big Christmas Eve celebration was too much to ask for, so I just wanted Christmas morning brunch.  Normally he just goes along with making me happy, but I could tell that I was asking quite a lot from him this time.  His mom makes a killer brunch.  I mean...it's really good.

Not that we're skipping his parents' house altogether.  We'll just go there after brunch.  I just want part of the day at home.  That's not so bad, right?

Don't ask me why I picked a year I'm having a new baby.  Don't ask me why I waited 10 years into our marriage before I said "I want things different."  Don't ask me why I want to stay and make a huge mess making a big brunch in my own kitchen, when we could go down the road and eat a probably better meal made by someone else.  I just want to.  It's this desire to have some hand in some holiday involving my children besides bringing a bag of chips to the leftover meal in the evening.

It doesn't make any logical sense, but I'm not claiming to be logical or sensible right now.  I'm very, very pregnant.  I just know what I want...sometimes.

Like I said, something in me snapped, and I didn't want to just add one more Christmas to the list of Christmas' that we celebrate.  I wanted 1 piece of Christmas that we as a family could do something special, and handle it in a way that I wanted to handle it.  Years where we celebrate Christmas 5 times are terrible.  At that point, there are toys (mostly broken after a few days) everywhere.  The kids hold their hands out to receive gifts from everyone.  They normally have very few sugary treats, but they get them all day long "because it's Christmas."  Naps are skipped, bedtimes are ignored "because it's Christmas" 5 times...in a row.  It's like a horror show for moms.  One day of all-sugar-no-sleep is special.  5 days is torture.  If it were just one time a year, I'd take it.  But a week, or 2 weeks of Christmas insanity?  I can't handle it.

And in that list of 5 Christmas'...not one of them is just us.  Not one of them is around our tree.  Not one of them can my kids say "I remember my mom made Christmas special this way..."  Well, that's not totally true, and I'm being a bit melodramatic I suppose, but I can easily blame the "about to pop" hormones on that.  We do make some Christmas crafts, and I am trying some special traditions that we do to celebrate the Advent season.

That's why I didn't want to just add on an extra day to Christmas celebrations.  I wanted to start saying "no" to some others.  "No" is not a word that we're good at saying, and some in our midwestern culture may even find it to be worse than most 4 letter words.

So this year I'm setting myself up for not only the typical cookies, but prepping for Christmas morning.  That's logical to do when it hurts to stand at this point, right?  I'm making some homemade caramel rolls ahead of time, to be pulled out of the freezer and baked up that morning.  I'm also doing the same with an egg bake.  So those will be set to just throw in.  Silje has also requested a large bowl of clementines, and that should be easy to do.  (She's helping me plan...of course.)  I want to serve some hot wassail like my grandma did, and I may steal Knut's family tradition to have some rice pudding as well.  I think that may be all.  I can handle that, right?

I might be most excited to decorate the dining room Christmas Eve.  Put a tablecloth on, set out the china and tea cups.  Make a centerpiece, and just set up a sight for the kids to see when they come downstairs.

However, I'm fairly certain, that this selfishness of me saying no to one family event, and planning to do Christmas morning "just us" is just begging for the irony of me going just a few days past my due date, and having the baby born Christmas morning, and the kids being watched over at Grandma's house anyway...having Christmas brunch.  I'm about 50% sure that's what's going to happen.

How does your family divide up Christmas?

9 comments:

little macaroon. said...

all of that stuff in the last paragraph could happen, and it'll be great anyway. But I 100% understand where you're coming from. We've managed to insist to our extended families that occasionally we hermits just need to have Christmas by ourselves, just the three of us (and this year four!). This year will be the 3rd year out of 6 that we've managed it, which is pretty good going. And I've got to say, they are the most relaxed and memorable Christmases I've ever enjoyed. But it also makes the years we have spent with our respective in-laws (who live hundreds of miles away) much more memorable too, because the years haven't blurred into one another.
I hope that you have exactly the holiday you have planned (or that your babe has planned more likely!)

tiffany said...

Beautiful post--raw and truthful.
I don't hear hormones speaking or selfishness at all.
My parents are divorced and we also travel every.single. year. It is always us packing up our children, farming out our animals, sleeping in other beds, jumping from party to party, consuming sugar cookies by the fistful and watching our children morph from content, sweet children to sugar hungry, greedy whiners -- all in the name of Christmas.

We too came to the point (or should I say, I came to the point) when Elena was 8, that I asked to stay home. Jon struggled as well and said, "I have never not been home for Christmas..." While I understood his emotions, I pushed back as I wondered out loud, "when will our children ever get to BE home?"

That first Christmas was a stretch for him, but as I bathed him, my children and my heart's desires in prayer, God began something new in our home and we are a better family because of it.

I too am a Christmas baby, so it will be fun to see if this sweet little one will be born on Christmas too. I will be praying for your family and the beginning of a life changing tradition. His timing is so perfect--from the birth of this baby to this being the year you started to say no.

Blessed Christmas to you!

Kim said...

Good for you for making this decision! I don't think you'll regret it. Things may not go exactly as you planned, but at least you have the opportunity to enjoy quiet time with your family on Christmas morning.

For the first few years of our marriage, we spent Christmas morning with my DH's parents. We were expected to be there between 9 & 9:30 am. We never really had much of a Christmas morning at home. About 4 or 5 years ago, we decided to stay home for Christmas morning and head over to his parent's house around 11 am or so for a Christmas lunch. It has been such an amazing change for our family! I'm so glad we made that decision while my kids were still young. (They're 8, 6 & 4 now.)

I hope your Christmas turns out to be amazingly blessed, no matter how your plans turn out!

Mom said...

I agree with you totally! Hopefully you won't go into labor just making all that stuff and being on your feet so much! I'll pray that the baby comes at just the right time and that this will be the best Christmas ever!

Anonymous said...

I too do not see this post as hormonal or selfish. I think as moms there comes a point where you have to make hard decisions. I have two little girls,3 &11/2, with a third on the way. It's hard being at new places, missing naps, too much sugar for too many days. We too are looking for ways to pull in a bit to have our family time. Hoping things turn out well, regardless of where you are. Thanks for the post, it made me feel good to know I'm not alone in these struggles.
Cassandra

Lisa Joy said...

I agree! Definitely not remotely selfish or hormonal! :) We have been struggling with the exact same thing there. EVERY year since we have been married, we have spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at my parents' house. (Randy's family gets together at a different time in December or January to celebrate.) So, we also have never had Christmas at home. We also have reached a point where we would REALLY, REALLY, REALLY love to be able to have some of our own Christmas traditions, or at least just some quiet family time to ourselves. I really need to pray about what to do for our family, and I will be praying for yours as well! :)

Anonymous said...

We lived out of state from both our families for a long time. We celebrated our first Christmas in our new state and while memorable, it is remembered in a poor light and I vowed to go home for Christmas every year after that. So here's what we did:

Before we packed up and left for another state, days before Christmas, the kids and we would sit down by the tree and read the Christmas story, remind our kids of why we celebrate at all, and talk about how proud we are of our kids and all they've done this year and how they are growing into beautiful people, starting with the youngest. Then they open an ornament we picked just for them that has some significance to the year past or their specific personality. After he unwraps and hangs his ornament, he gets hugs from every other person in the family and we move on to the next youngest. It's a quiet night, a beautiful night, and no sugar required.

Now that some of our kids are of age to give compliments, we ask them to say positive things about their siblings and parents. I have grown to love this event on a non-Christmas date more than many other celebration "have-to's."

The night also uses the love languages of giving, touch, words of kindness, and quality time, so you and your children are bound to feel good afterwards. You can even stop in the middle and put the little ones to bed before continuing with the elders--there's no right way, only your way.

Blessings to you and your readers this Christmas,

D-Mutt

Whitney said...

I totally feel you! I put my foot down a few years ago though and said I am not hauling the kids all over the place on Christmas anymore! I want my children to grow up remembering Christmas as a calm, happy, loving FAMILY time in our own home. We can go anywhere else, any other day and celebrate Christmas with all our family and they are welcome to come to us but Christmas morning we stay home. So we celebrate with family at other times during the month and my mom comes here and it has worked out beautifully. So much less stress and the kids actually get to enjoy their gifts from us.

Anonymous said...

This is changing each year for us. When we were first married, I decided that I only wanted to go to one place per day. We have 3 sets of parents - we all live in the same community. We also have extended family on both sides that live within an hour. A few years back, I told each side of the family that we will do one party with each side, so it could be a big party with the extended family, or we could do a small gathering with just parents and siblings. That was a much smoother year. Another thing that just kind of happened this year, was doing an early party with one side, a Christmas day party planned with another, and then a February Christmas with another. I am really looking to spreading out the joy! I think it just comes down to setting boundaries and doing what is best for your family, knowing what is best for your little ones and don't apologize. They won't be little forever and while traditions are great, they don't have to be set in stone. ;) ~Heather Krupa