I had no expectations of how the Christmas holiday would go with our fourteen month old this year. Last year, my daughter was only two months old when we celebrated the special holiday. Her Christmas consisted of lots of naps, breast milk and excitement over the large crowd that congregated at our recently renovated house. Our refrigerator died two days before the holiday. I scrambled to find a repairman/replacement by Christmas Eve, but I ended up with a mini fridge from Costco in my living room. We managed to fit most of the food for our family celebration in the mini fridge, but we did end up also filling a cooler on our back porch of what was left. The temperature allowed us to keep it there for almost three days following. To top all of that off, we found ourselves in the attic swapping buckets out from a leaking roof while our daughter slept gently in a pack n play in our room. A good old fashioned Griswold Christmas. We made it through. Surely this year would be better? Surely.
While we don’t go to church as much as we should, we got dressed up to make the trek out on Christmas Eve for the 4:00PM service at St. Gabes. Talk about romper room. We didn’t get there until 3:45. Our mistake. We ended up parking a quarter mile away before finding a small, steaming hot area in the back of the church to stand in. Yep. No seats left. We found ourselves in the midst of several other desperate families with children coloring, crying and running all over. There was no way that I was going to make it. Pregnant. In heels. Toddler in my arms. We did our best switching back and forth and “taking her for a walk”. By the gospel we had given up. We will reassess our plan next year (especially since we will have a nine month old in tow).
From church, we headed to my parents house to have a Christmas Eve celebration. My daughter did great opening gifts. Her big gift from my parents was a wheelie suitcase. Something I had never thought about getting her but something she will use right away. She considered the bag a toy. I smiled as I imagined having my entire suitcase back when we go on trips. My daughter has her own space to put her things now! Great gift grandma.
We headed home to get my daughter ready for bed before Santa came. This is a special holiday for my husband. His mom has been coined “Mrs. Claus”. His house in New York is a winter wonderland during the month of December. It is almost impossible to recreate. That’s it below.
I did my best this year. Santa sure did come. As my husband and I did one last pass of the living room before getting my daughter out of her bed, we glanced at the clock on the oven and noticed it was pitch black. At some point during the night the oven and microwave blew out. Of course. I had fifteen people coming over Christmas dinner. I had worried all night about how I would get all of the cooking done on time. All for nothing. Well, what do you do? It’s Christmas. Nothing will change. Two years ago, I would have had a meltdown. This year, I made up a new plan. Before we set that plan in motion, we had to get my daughter out of bed to see what her reaction would be.
- A children’s size broom (we are mimicking everything mom does right now) – Very cheap
- A toddler size baby stroller/baby/baby bottle – hopefully this is an indication that she will be mommy’s little helper soon.
- Books with Flaps – Anything that she can touch on the book to engage herself.
- Last but not least – A kitchen. Don’t skimp here. It is worth the cost and labor to see how happy it will make your child. He or she will likely spend hours playing with this toy.
With gifts out of the way, I was left with figuring out how we would eat the rest of the day. Thankfully, my parents live close. I packed up a pork roast and some stuffing and headed there. In three hours we would have the pork done. Just a tip – if you do not have another oven close by, you could always cook a roast on the grill or in a crock pot.
Dad of the year whipped up some pancakes and bacon on the griddle. This could also be done on the stove (which is not connected to the oven). Here is where I spill the big beans. After our situation last year and the fact that I have been completely worn down this pregnancy, I decided to outsource the sides. I spent hours cooking and cleaning last year. So many hours that I hardly had time to relax. This year, I preordered almost all of my sides from Reid’s. The kicker is that it wasn’t much more expensive (and it was delicious). We used our toaster over and stove to reheat everything (without a microwave or oven). For less than $80, we picked up:
- Baked macaroni and cheese for 12-15 people
- Garlic green beans for 12-15 people
- Bourbon glazed carrots for 12-15 people
My daughter and her cousin sat at the kid’s table and enjoyed their dinner. I will do it again. As much as I love cooking during the holidays, I love spending time with the people I care about more. To be honest, most people appreciate the effort just the same whether you outsource or do it yourself. Do yourself a favor.
As we enjoyed dinner, we forgot about the minor kitchen disaster. In two years, we have had almost every major kitchen appliance die on us on Christmas Day. Both years we have managed without letting it ruin the day. My daughter loved opening gifts, although she still doesn’t understand why she got them. She worked hard to carry as many of them around as she could (in fear that we might take them from her). She still wakes up in the morning and walks to the tree looking for more presents. Over the next year, she will figure it out. In the meantime, I’m going to work on developing mommy’s little helper with our new baby doll addition!