How We Spent the Holidays

5:02 AM

December can be a bit of a whirlwind for young families. Calvin and I have experienced a few Christmases now that we looked back on, once the dust settled, and thought: "That was too crazy, never again." Like the not-enough-sleep year, the spent-12-hours-driving-in-a-day year, and the Oliver-is-overwhelmed-by-people year... we have learned our lesson to not overbook ourselves and to keep driving to a realistic level. Now that Dakota (23 months old!) has reached a significant level of human consciousness, gift opening is at peak awesomeness. Seeing two little ones go nuts over gifts is pretty unbeatable.

So here is how we maximized joy and minimized homicide risk.

Early in December we celebrated with my Dad's side. There is nothing greater than a section of the family committing to celebrate early. Praise the Good Lord. It was a perfect plan because my grandparents were headed back to Brazil in a few days and won't return until late April. We had an amazing meal (steak!) and opened gifts. I situated myself next to my uncle's new dog and became best friends with her instantly (Charlie.. *sigh*)

A week or so later Calvin's mom's side met up at McGuiness Landing for a holiday get-together. Sadly I was working but managed to catch them back at their house for coffee and sweets (and by coffee and sweets I just mean two black coffees).

December 23 we got together with our lead team at church and decorated for the Christmas Eve service. We knew we wouldn't be able to attend the actual party but wanted to contribute to the set up and feel we were a part of it in some way. We provided/arranged for sweet treats to feed ~400 expected people, including cookies, brownies, bark, cinnamon buns and bars. This was stress-free because Oliver and Dakota were free to run around the venue (a golf club) and our pastors' son and daughter are like dream babysitters who I want to hire as live-in nannies/mentors.

December 24 Calvin worked the day and then we took turns distracting the kids while the other wrapped gifts like a madperson (madperson is the gender neutral of madman or madwoman - the more you know). Mid-afternoon we drove to my parents house in South London and were able to spend good quality time with them and my two sisters (one of whom came from Toronto, which is always a treat). By good quality time I do mean rounds of shots ("Do I have to drink this all in one gulp?" - Mom) and record ourselves "singing" Christmas carols around the piano. And by singing I mean managing to get a line or two out before laughing or yelling at each other. In fairness, my mom kept getting her hands on my side of the piano. And everyone kept singing harmony instead of the melody. And the iPad recording us fell down a ton of times. Rage. We had a delicious meal, of which my favourite parts were the chipotle sweet potatoes and the bacon brussels sprouts. For dessert my sisters made a pie (like, just whipped it up casually as though they were 20 year old Martha Stewarts) and then we promptly forgot it had been made so we never ate dessert. We opened gifts (Oliver got a remote controlled helicopter - heaven help me). Then we took off before anyone could get over-tired and cranky (the most likely candidate being me).

December 25 we woke up at the crack of dawn to do Christmas morning with Calvin's family. From 7am to 9am we took turns with his parents and brother and sister-in-law, giving and receiving gifts, as well as hiding all chocolate items from their dog. Then at 9 I raced off to work while they had a big breakfast which I'm told consisted of quiche, turkey bacon, sausage, protein pancakes, scones and more. I managed to steal some protein pancakes and a scone before I got in the car. Cal and the kids spent the day at their house while I made sure the 75 clients in our hospital were fed and happy. I also had my finger slammed in a heavy duty security door - ugh. (Said no swear words - look at me go.) I returned to their house at 6pm for a delicious turkey dinner. Oliver had been shipped off to my sister's car to go attend my mom's family's Christmas get together in Niagara. We got ourselves home and in bed very early, and Dakota let us sleep in until almost 7:30am.

December 26 Calvin took Dakota out for some Boxing Day shopping while I frantically cleaned and tidied the house. I filled garbage bags with old, broken toys and put their new ones out. I dishwasher-ed, I laundry-ed, I bed-made, I kitchen-scrubbed, and then I collapsed in a tub of hot bath water until they came home (and had purchased nothing - which is probably for the best). Oliver was returned to us mid-afternoon and we took off in the car to Goderich to Calvin's dad's family Christmas. Here, Oliver was just about reaching his breaking point so we kept him in check by limiting sweets and threatening to not purchase batteries for his helicopter. Worked like a charm. Dakota was content to eat snap peas and smile at people nervously. I personally loved this gathering because (a) little ones to snuggle and (b) enough smoked salmon to feed me for a week. I planted myself beside the cheese platter with a small child on my lap and was in my happy place.

And now the holidays are over.

Of course we have a friend Christmas party tonight for dinner. And Thursdays is New Years Eve, so the mayhem never ends. But we're happy that we survived a family Christmas without any major hiccups. I hope your holidays were fantastic and would love to hear your family's game plan if you want to post a comment below! Happy Holidays my friends.

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