Happy almost New Year, everyone!
Today we're going to talk about lessons learned from Christmas 2010:
1. Having Christmas at home, just our little family, was actually quite festive and fun. We missed our extended families, of course, but it was so nice to get up and open gifts on our own schedule at our own pace (i.e. all J's gifts, then all E's, then all the husband's, and then all mine, much later) and spend lots of time admiring and playing with one another's gifts.
2. 3 years old is still young enough to appreciate fewer gifts. Because of the grandparents' largess and thoughtful aunts, there were gifts galore, so many, in fact, that J got bored with opening presents, and I spirited away half of our gifts to him behind a chair, and he didn't even blink. Hello, birthday gifts!
3. What children like is a huge mystery, even when they've been very clear about their likes and dislikes all year long. Yes, the T-Rex that roars was a hit and the Kung Zhu pet has been rolling around the house non-stop, but the play-dough machine (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!) and the train DVD (thanks Grandeur and Grandest!) have rocked his tiny little world! And the Kung Zhu pet is actually more popular at this point with Baby E, who seems to think it is actually alive.
4. Strata is an awesome Christmas morning choice! Yummy! This one is great because it calls for relatively little cheese and just milk, not cream, so I could use lactose free (and fat free) milk and still eat my own dish without getting incredibly ill. Huzzah! Actually, I think I'll do a Christmas recipe post soon, since I ended up making quite a few dishes, all of which were hits, which is a first (except for the green bean casserole I made under duress, but I had very low expectations for that one and will never make it again anyway, so we're just going to ignore it).
5. Potluck holiday dinners are the only way to go. As with Thanksgiving, we had a potluck dinner. We made stuffing, banana bread, and brought a Marie Calendar's razzleberry pie (my favorite!). We also had spinach salad, turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, and assorted other desserts. But we only had to make some of it. I will never go back to making it all on my own unless we move somewhere where we have absolutely no friends or friends who don't understand the joys of potlucking (though such people would probably never wind up friends with us anyway, most likely!).
6. Christmas decorations, even those very carefully chosen, seem to spiral out of control once you have kids. We started the season with tree ornaments, a nativity scene, and stockings, period. We ended with an advent calendar, a bell wreath, 6 tabletop trees, new stockings (because of the new addition), more ornaments, a new nativity scene (a present we'd hadn't opened last year), and assorted other decorations. I'd never really seen the reason behind decorating my house until there were kids around who were wide-eyed at every Christmas scene they saw in someone else's house, making me feel all sorts of maternal guilt. As ameliorating this particular guilt just entailed shopping, I was right on top of shooing it away! And everything came from discount stores, online deals, or after Christmas sales, so I don't even feel very bad about packing away 4 boxes (!) of holiday stuff.
7. Christmas with kids is FUN! Sign me up again and again!