Now, you know I love a good list. It's the nerd in me. I was reading a magazine last night that suggested I make a list of all the things I love about Christmas and focus on those, getting rid of the stresses and things I do only out of obligation or a feeling that I should, because I always have before. Though I think we can all agree that eliminating the Christmas stress is unrealistic, it doesn't mean we can't all make an effort to lean towards the parts of the holiday that make us happy. So, with that in mind, I give you my favourite things about the holidays:
Food and Drink: I'm not much of a drinker, and this only changes slightly over the holidays, with the occasional glass of wine after the kids are in bed, or at a party if I'm not driving. But there's something decadent about knowing I can slip a little Baileys into my morning coffee or drink fatty eggnog spiked with rum in front of the TV on Christmas Eve, sans guilt. I do go a little overboard at Christmas with the baking. Sometimes at Easter, we're still forcing down Christmas fruitcake that would otherwise make a lovely doorstop. But, despite the tragic no-more-sweets pleas of the Captain as he slips into a diabetic coma, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without shortbread, mince pies, squares of all kinds and steamed pudding with custard. The fact that I also add a lot of deep-fried finger-foods to the menu on New Year's Eve does not help my waistline, or my marriage. But it keeps the self-indulgent, overstuffed spirit of the season alive until I wake up on January 1st, swearing I'll never go that mad again.
Gifts: No, I don't mean the ones addressed to me. I'll save that topic for my next post! I'm talking, of course, about the look on Firstborn's and Rosemary's Baby's faces at about 5AM on Christmas morning. The stockings waiting to be emptied, the overflowing pile under the tree, and the giggles and squeals (and impromptu dance numbers) that stem from a month of anticipation in the brains of little people who still think it all got there because a chubby guy in red squeezed his butt down our filthy chimney. Magic.
Music: Have I mentioned we got Sirius this year?! There's a whole station dedicated to Christmas numbers. It's been going since Halloween, and if I hear one more version of Grown Up Christmas List, I'm going to cancel Christmas altogether. But when I opened up the box of decorations this week, I found a whole bunch of mysterious, shiny discs. They were small, almost compact. That's right! The age-old CD's have come back out to play, so to speak. Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, various choirs and orchestras. Nothing ushers in that festive atmosphere for me like the Christmas music I grew up with. Besides, the satellite radio was starting to smoke from overuse anyway. I can abuse it again in January.
Crafts(!!!): I've made a point of making my own cards and ornaments for the last few years, and my skills are slowly improving. Actually, to confess something a little embarrassing, I already have some of NEXT YEAR'S cards made. I love it that much! Last night, Firstborn and I decorated a large paper ornament for the school theatre with our family name and some punched snowflakes and glitter. It was a fun way to spend time together, and I only glued my fingers together once. Okay, fine. Twice. I'm klutzy.
Books: The Captain and I always order a huge box of books from Book Closeouts at this time of year. We also usually stick a new magazine in each other's stocking for fun (um, thanks for Women's Health last year dear, but can I suggest a fashion or crafts mag?! Love you!!). And then we spend the whole holiday drinking coffee and reading while the kids break all their new toys. Heaven!
Reading back over that, I realize what a North American consumption junkie I must sound like. So, to clear things up, I should admit that what I'm looking most forward to this year is having my little family together, just relaxing at home and enjoying what we have, not needing expensive gifts, and creating memories to last us until the next one. For Christmas 2009, the Captain will be in Afghanistan, so I plan to make this one count.