I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
December 26, 2012
“You seem to be working really hard today,” my husband said on Christmas Eve as I struggled to bake a batch of cookies and assemble a chicken almond ball appetizer at the same time.
“Well of course,” I muttered, pulling a tray of cookies out of the oven. “It’s Christmas Eve. I have a list of about 12 things I need to finish before I go to bed tonight.”
“When do you get to enjoy the holiday?” Dennis asked.
I thought for a minute. “January seventh,” I said.
“What? Why?” he said, confused.
“That’s the day the kids go back to school!” I said. “And on that day, I will celebrate by doing whatever I want.” I thought for a minute. “At least for an hour or two. And then, when I do what I don’t want, at least I’ll do it in peace.”
I came to terms a long time ago with the fact that Christmas would never again be the holiday I remember from my youth. Back then, Christmas Eve and Christmas day (not to mention the two weeks after that) were meant for lying around, reading, watching movies, playing with Christmas toys and games, and eating.
Now, of course, it’s a different story.
I spend the month leading up to Christmas in a whirlwind of activity: cleaning, cooking, list-making, hosting, entertaining, buying, elf-moving, mailing, baking, scheduling, wrapping, checking, double-checking, and worrying that I’m forgetting something- all while keeping up with my job and my normal mom duties. And while I love the Christmas season and look forward to it all year long, I’m not going to lie– It’s a damn lot of work. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but…
I’m always kind of glad when it’s over.
Fortunately, this year everything went off pretty much according to plan — at least everything that was not Elf on the Shelf-related. Our elf didn’t move for days at a time, but I explained to the kids in a gentle voice that all elves are not created equal and unfortunately, our own Charlie Greensleeves seemed to be a pretty crappy one. They agreed, seeing as how their friends’ elves did the most wonderfully naughty deeds, like spilling chocolate chips all over the kitchen floor and painting their noses red while they were sleeping, while our elf just sat around for days on end.
This was our elf on his best day… and that’s not saying much.
My coffee still tastes weird.
A few days later, Charlie managed to make quite a mess by turning over a table in our living room. At first, we thought he was just playing dead. Naughty elf!
But when he didn’t move for three days, we all started to worry.
Particularly when it started to smell like burned cookies in there.
At any rate, Charlie is now safely back in the North Pole, although I suspect he took a detour on the way and is currently sleeping off an epic hangover in a dingy Reno hotel room.
Whatever. Not my concern!
Our manger, on the other hand, was a huge success and amply filled with hay in time for Christmas Eve. If baby Jesus had decided to be born here, I can assure you that his sleeping arrangements would not have disappointed Mary and Joseph. We also managed to read every Jesse Tree story, although on several nights we had to read two or even three stories to stay on track. I was worried that hearing the same Bible stories year after year would start to bore the kids, but this year, they were more excited than ever. Punky was able to tell many of the stories herself and often, they’d shriek “Oh, this one’s my favorite!” as I got started. To see my kids so excited about the Bible was pretty awesome.
For me, this Christmas stands out for the time I spent on the kids’ gifts. My son has a new VTech InnoTab and I spent hours figuring out how to convert video and load it to the tablet as a Christmas surprise. I found tons of old Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Popeye, and other cartoons from my childhood on YouTube and had fun loading them up for my son to enjoy.
My daughter really wanted a Blythe doll from Japan, but the ones she loved on the Internet were all customized and cost hundreds of dollars on Ebay. After some searching, I ordered a used, non-customized Blythe online, read a few tutorials, and “customized” that doll all by myself. I was pretty happy about saving hundreds of dollars, and my daughter adores her.
But the greatest labor of love this Christmas came after I prepared photo albums for the grandparents.
“I really wish I had a book like that,” my five-year-old son said as he watched me slide photos into the album sleeves. I smiled at him, thinking of how he often he’s paged through the small photo books he’s received from his grandparents and his preschool over the years. It was just a few days before Christmas, but I decided Bruiser would have his very own photo album, no matter what.
I spent hours over the next few days scrolling through 10,000 photos of our last five years and pulling my favorites for Bruiser’s album. I picked up the photos from Walgreen’s on Christmas Eve morning, put them in the album that afternoon, and slipped the wrapped present under the tree that evening. Bruiser, having no idea what it was, chose to open the album as his sole Christmas Eve present after dinner.
As he opened it, I worried that he would be disappointed that he had chosen a photo album instead of a toy that he could play with. I never anticipated this:
He LOVED it. He hasn’t stopped looking at it. A few minutes after I took this video, he came up to me and whispered, “Thank you for my big book, Mommy. It’s the best present I ever gotted.”
Last night, we even let him stay up late so that he could page through it one more time before he went to sleep.
I think my heart grew three sizes that day.
While this year’s Christmas gifts were far from homemade, I loved the feeling of seeing the enjoyment on my kids’ faces after opening presents I’d spent hours preparing for them. Yep, it was a regular Little House on the Prairie around here.
My husband and I got a television for our bedroom as our main Christmas present to each other. We’ve never had one in our bedroom before, but the kids are getting older now and I want to be able to watch movies without worrying that one of them is going to wander down the stairs at night and see or hear something they shouldn’t. On Christmas morning, we gave each other a few small gifts we had each been wanting. Dennis also surprised me with a flashlight that has a sharp, serrated edge around the spotlight, so that I can seriously hurt an attacker in the dark AND see what kind of damage I’m doing! Awesome! It also has a strobe setting that will temporarily blind anyone who tries to bother me. This combined with the survival knife that my neighbor thoughtfully gave me for Christmas a few days ago sets me up nicely for 2013, don’t you agree?
So that was our Christmas. How was yours?