the holiday is upon us!

I started this post two weeks ago to say that holiday preparations had begun and were progressing nicely. In between now and then the sprout got his first cold and needed to be held all the time, making it oodles more challenging to get ready for Christmas and leaving no time for actually writing about it. So, here it is Christmas morning: I’ve brought Mr. Sneezy downstairs to nap so that my partner can get a bit more sleep before we spend the whole day opening the gifts that have been arriving for the sprout from near and far and I have time to recap all that led up to today.

I know some people put up their Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t grow up in that kind of family. I was lucky to negotiate the tree going up for my birthday, and I still consider it a treat to have a tree up in the second week of December. This year the tree went up and stayed undecorated for a good week while we sorted out the lights that didn’t light on one side. Once the lights were replaced or repaired, I decorated the tree in spurts during the day (and then rearranged the ornaments at night, since when you are using tree decoration as a baby-entertaining activity, things don’t always end up where you’d like them). Even with (what seemed like) days and days of decorating, I still didn’t get all of the ornaments up: we use little metallic balls as tree bling (no garland, no icicles, no ribbon bows), and I just didn’t have the time or the desire to group them together on hooks. The tree is still very full, just not as sparkly as usual. Oh well. I also didn’t have the oomph to clear all of the side tables, so all of the freestanding Christmas decorations (the felt penguin, the frogs that croak Jingle Bells, the wooden snowmen) are grouped on the hope chest in the corner of the living room rather than being artfully spread about. I’m pretending it’s a diorama.

The main reason I had little time to spare for decorating is that I was using all the time I had to spare in the evenings to do the baking. Or maybe that should be The Baking, since there’s something of a canon that must be produced each year: roll cookies, spice cookies, meat pies, mince tarts, and cornbread for the stuffing (plus any other cookies I feel like making that year; this year we added jam thumbprints into the mix, using blueberry jam from our trip to Maine last year). I can rely on my mother for fruitcake, so I haven’t had to master those yet. Much of the baking can be done ahead, it’s just a matter of spending several evenings in a row making dough and sticking it in the freezer. That was last week; this week entailed thawing the dough out and actually making the cookies and pies. Despite a few mishaps (very soft molasses cookies as a result of only half the flour, for example) everything was ready for Christmas Eve! With Nana on hand, I was able to make cornbread, cookies, and tarts during the day, providing us with plenty for ourselves, friends, and Santa (who I am pretty sure was too tired to actually eat them before bed, after spending most of the day making runs to the store and wrapping presents while I baked).

Now it’s time to drink the coffee, get the sweet potatoes roasting, and try to get a shower before we all take turns opening the sprout’s (enormous) pile of gifts. Merry Christmas!

the holiday is upon us!

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