Christmas Retrospective, 2008

First off let me say I got one of my wishes: a computer of my own! To be sure, it's an ancient Toshiba laptop with no mouse, running XP, but beggars can't be choosers. It's a computer, and it's so gnarly no-one else will want to use it!

Today is the last day of Christmas holidays. At the beginning of the two weeks off school, Delphine was pretty miserable. She likes school better than home, probably because school notably lacks an annoying little sister. Also school is thick with structure and full of activities: she never has to wonder what to do next at school. So she and I both were a little nervous at the start of the holiday.

The first weekend we attended the annual Party Across The Street, the party the whole block goes to. All twelve houses worth! Delphine was feeling sick, though, so she only stayed for a little while. Sunday she was feeling better and good thing too, because it was the first day of Hanukkah and we had my friend Kat over for latkes and cabbage soup and some Doctor Whos. We scared the crap out of her with Blink and that one with the gas mask kid.

On Monday Delphine and I left Blake and Cordelia behind and went downtown to do some Christmas shopping. Delphine has only been downtown a few times, not counting swimming lessons on Bloor and Riverdale Farm, so it is still a big adventure for her. We went to the Eaton Centre, shopped in vain for a winter jacket for Zaida, got some presents for Daddy and had sushi and ice cream. Delphine ooh-ed and aah-ed at the Swarovski crystal Christmas tree, and at the fountain. I told her the secret to finding a nice clean, empty bathroom when the mall is busy (go to the top floor of one of the department stores), and we bought me some underwear. Yay!

On Tuesday we went tobogganing with friends, which is to say we all went to the park and then I peeled off to do some errands. I meant to be back in time to toboggan, but by the time I was finished shopping everyone had retreated to our friends' place for lunch. (It was the book store, the book store always takes longer than you think.) Then Delphine stayed at said friend's house for the rest of the afternoon for some getting-away-from-little-sister time.

The next day was Christmas Eve. Due to in-law difficulties (not with my in-laws, though) we had decided to have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, at Baba and Zaida's house. (I know, there's just something weird about Christmas Dinners at Baba and Zaida's house. We're a modern family.) However, I'm obviously the big Christmas maven (heh) around here and Christmas Dinner is my baby, so I sent over three giant bags of food and equipment in Zaida's car in the morning, then drove myself and the girls crazy cleaning our house while Blake worked. It was a pretty rotten morning but it was the only time this whole Christmas season when I got stressed and overwhelmed, which is a big improvement over last year when pretty much all of December sucked. After the house was clean enough I shoved the girls over to Baba and Zaida's in a very unseasonable rainstorm, and Baba took over childcare/napping while I cooked away. I did prime rib (part of our quarter cow), roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and gravy, and Baba did green beans. For afters we had Christmas pudding (I made five Christmas puddings this year! That might be too many!) with brandy butter and whipped cream, and some of the vast selection of cookies baked by Baba's friend Bob. Bob starts baking in September or October and bakes, like twenty different kinds of cookies and bars, and then disseminates his handywork to all his friends. Hooray for Bob!

After dinner we headed home and did all the Santa juju, with the cookies and port (no milk for Santa at our house, we do it English-style), and stockings hung on doorknobs (Delphine) and dining chairs (Cordelia. Don't ask me, it wasn't my idea) with care. Delphine declared she was going to stay up and wait for Santa, but Delphine couldn't stay up if there were a real live pony in it for her, and within ten minutes she was gone. Then I got down to the real hard Santa work and finally crawled into bed by ten thirty or so.

The nice thing about having children who wake up really early normally is that you're used to it, so when they wake up really early Christmas Day it's not such a shock. We had coached the girls that they should open their stockings before waking us up, so we got to sleep until 7. Christmas Day unfolded as it should, with some stocking opening, a light breakfast, opening some presents. The whole family and a friend came over for brunch, catered by Morgan and Erik, and there was ample sitting around talking and eating more cookies and the traditional Terry's chocolate orange and giant Toblerone bar. Finally everyone left, and there was more present opening. Delphine declared herself to have received too many books and activity books (and to be sure, she did receive plenty of both) but I think she ended up pretty happy. Her favourite thing was a sewing kit I put together out of some sheets of felt from the dollar store, some fine yarn, actual grown-up needles and actual grown-up scissors. Actual grown-up stuff is a huge deal when you're five. I think Cordelia's favourite thing was the baby doll she got from Baba and Zaida (technically a Hanukkah gift).

Boxing Day was officially my day off: the house was clean, the fridge was full of leftovers, and everyone was amused with their new toys and books and activity books. I had nothing to do! So I read my Christmas book (that collection of short stories) in the morning and in the afternoon Tanya and her brood came over and we ate more and compared schwag.

The next day we had Cordelia's friend Henry over for a playdate and lunch. Henry was a little sick and had a minor meltdown and he and his Mom had to leave without really enjoying their lunch, but the kids did get to play a little bit. Morgan came over for lunch too, and we gave her her birthday present. Later we had more latkes with Kat and Baba and Zaida. After the kids went to bed Kat and Blake and I watched Juno, and I made Kat cry. Christmas is hard.

Sunday no-one came over and we didn't do anything. Delphine was happy; I told her on Saturday the Baba and Zaida were coming over and she said "I don't want any more company!" She has very specific needs, that one.

Monday my friend Ellen and her million children (actually three but two of them are louder or more rambunctious than average) came over. I love Ellen. We always have fun when she and her kids come over, but after this visit we decided that we should try and get Dexter and Delphine together sometime without younger siblings so they can play properly.

Tuesday we all went out together up Mount Pleasant to the drugstore and the library and the toystore. Delphine spent her Christmas money, all five dollars of it, on a pocket sized one of those little magnetic drawing pads. She said "it's just like Daddy's little computer!"

Wednesday, New Year's Eve, we all slept in until 8. Normally that would be great, but I had hoped to head down to the AGO early. I always like to get places early because usually they're less busy, and so that we can get home in plenty of time for Cordelia's nap. In reality we didn't get downtown until 11:00. However, an hour at the art gallery is really all Cordelia's good for. Delphine is at an awesome age for the art gallery - she is becoming interested in how to draw things "well", and we can talk about what colours the artist uses, whether pictures are pretty or not, whether we like them or not. With Cordelia it's more, "Don't touch that, Cordelia. Please don't run, Cordelia. Could you be more quiet, Cordelia?" We went for lunch at the food court I used to go to when I worked downtown, and I had a number 4 at New Thai Food: cashew chicken with sticky rice and papaya salad.

Blake and I stayed up late on New Year's Eve, but it was pretty lame. We ended up watching George Strombouloupoulos's interview with Sarah Palin because there was so nothing on, and that's ten minutes of my life I'd love to have back.

New Year's Day Delphine had a friend over, and the next day we went skating! I hadn't been skating since I was a kid, and Delphine and Cordelia have never skated before. Before we went skating we went to the local skate shop and spent $200 on skates, mainly for me. I got some of these new comfort skates. Comfort skates! They're purple! Skating was very much fun; I was surprised by how quickly I picked it back up again. I wasn't up to speed by any means, but I figured out how to go forwards, how to go backwards, and how to stop. Delphine got pretty good too, in an hour or so. She isn't quite skating properly but she can keep her balance. Even Cordelia did quite well, although when you're that short and enshrouded in a snowsuit it's hardly catastrophic when you fall over. Kind of fun, actually.

That brings us to yesterday and today, which was a fairly regular weekend. I had taken the tree and decorations down on Thursday and Friday, so the house is all back to normal and tomorrow is just an ordinary Monday: Cordelia is back to school, Delphine is back to school, I expect Blake will dig back into work again and I will be back to my usual, busy, slightly lonely and boring life. Hmph, there's got to be something to look forward to. There's choir. I have a book club meeting on Friday. Music class starts on Saturday. At some point in the future it will get warm again. I guess it's not so bad. I think I just have the Sunday blues.

But it was an awesome holiday! I love Christmas.

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