I have been off in Real Life having an absolutely wonderful holiday break, the best I've had in a long time. It's amazing how that can happen when one strips away the excess, the stress, the materialism, the worry about schedules and traveling and events and gifts and STUFF that has clogged my recent years. I kept it simple this year, and I'm so very glad that I did.
I kept the focus on a small circle of people: my children, my siblings, my boyfriend. So the 23rd and 24th were my Christmas Eve and Christmas, spent with my boys and my siblings. We stayed all together down at my parents' place in Detroit (which made me feel closer to them as well, even though they're off in West Africa) and celebrated by doing all sorts of our traditional family activities. The males decorated the (artificial, which is also traditional--West Africa, peoples!) tree and house, which made for some interesting choices:
This is, in case you can't tell, a piece of plastic greenery stuck in the frame of a mirror. Very classy.
As well as some sweet moments:
My sister's husband, "Muttonchops Hubby", helps The Widget place an ornament.
My sister and I made candles as gifts (more about that in a future post) while the males baked cookies. Then we had a delicious dinner of Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables on couscous (my sister is vegetarian) and watched Claymation Christmas, a family favorite since someone taped it back in 1987 and sent it out to us poor television-deprived missionaries.
(I showed this to Joe a couple of days later and he said that while he liked it well enough, once a year is just about right. Barbarian.)
The morning of the 24th, I managed to keep DramaBoy and The Widget in bed with me until just about 7 a.m. Since we had all ended up in the same twin bed, you can imagine how well I slept that night. So I went down to put a firelog on the fire, light the candles, make cocoa, and put on Amy Grant's Christmas album at high volume while I sicced the boys on the peaceful sleepers. We read Luke 2 together, prayed, and then opened presents.
Interestingly enough (and SUCH a surprise, knowing our family), the vast majority of the presents were books. I myself received several books, a set of exercise videos (which I need to use), and a lovely pair of earrings. Oh, and two little handmade tree decorations from my boys via daycare.
Simple, but wonderful.
Then we made our traditional breakfast of Christmas Eggs (details again in a future post) and sweet rolls, and then relaxed before making dinner. The boys didn't so much relax as run rampant, much of the time wearing the awesome custom-made reversible superhero capes I got for them from BeeBeeBug:
DramaBoy action shot: orange side out, blue side in
The Widget action shot: yellow side out, green side in
The mighty superhero team of DramaBoy and The Widget, fighting a villain: colors reversed. Pants were, apparently, optional.
It was wonderful.
My sister and her husband left for his family's home that afternoon, so my brother and I took the boys to a Christmas Eve service at my family's home church, where my uncle is now head pastor. It was lovely. Then we had a simple dinner of leftovers and relaxed while watching Surf's Up with the boys. That movie was far better than I expected!
Christmas morning actual I took the boys to their grandfather's house for their Christmas with their father and his family, and since then I have been relaxing and *gasp* enjoying WINTER for the first time in years as well. We went four-wheeling through fields and wetlands until my feet just about froze off. I had no idea just how beautiful that stark winter landscape is. We went ice-skating, and I learned how to skate in hockey skates since I forgot my figure skates. We dropped by and visited friends and some of J's family. We drove around and looked at holiday lights. We went to dinner with friends at PF Chang's, and now I know why people like that place so much (nom nom nom). Last night I dragged J to see Avatar, which was somewhat cheesy and predictable (hello, it was James Cameron), but really quite good and well worth seeing in the theatre and in 3-D. J even managed to stay awake the whole time!
And tonight I will celebrate my birthday (which was on the 25th, but I rarely celebrate it that day for some reason), gathering friends and siblings around me in a casual get-together at a place owned by one of J's friends. Simple, no stress. It's becoming my mantra.
I'm thinking this is the way I should start doing holidays all the time. Maybe I'll even get to the point of being able to live my life that way!
You never know. Miracles do happen.