Finally procuring two minutes to myself (thank you DVD player) and after pouring myself a MUG full of cooled, boiled water (damn you, kettle next the coffee machine who was not only holding a jug full of filtered coffee for me, but was wafting out the alluring scent of freshly filtered coffee) I have a moment to reflect on the past few festively adorned Christmassy days.
On Christmas Shopping
I had – or so I thought – clearly delegated this task to the Grumpy One a little over a week ago. I was flat out busy, and stressing the fuck out of myself trying to decide what purchase everyone. It’s my own fault; I have this thing going on where I can’t just purchase a gift ‘because it is the season of giving’. It has to be the RIGHT gift. For everyone.
So I handballed to someone who gives a bit less of a fuck about the ‘perfectness’ of a gift (and then stress that he hasn’t got the RIGHT gift, anyway. *sigh*)
To make it easy on him, I even sat with him and we wrote a list of whom needed a gift. By “we wrote” I meant I wrote and thought of everyone and randomly said “Is that everyone” and he’s reply “yep” and go back to reading his book as I went “Oh, what about so and so” and he’d say “Oh, yeah. Shhhhh.”
Eventually, it transpired that I was to attend the local craft market with a friend. I gave up and just took the damned List of Names with me. I knocked off half the presents in a
little over an hour. Nice.
The next ten days were spent at daily trips to either the Massively Oversized Shopping Mall (which is now, thankfully, within walking distance from our house) and the further away, but oft visited, supermarket and speciality stores mall. Each time I went I’d come and and say “Yep, that’s the list, DONE! Yay!” and ten minutes later “Ah, fuckery, I forgot so and so” because they were hidden somewhere in the middle of the list that I was frantically ticking off and were subsequently overlooked. For ten days I was doing “Just one more gift to go!”
The day before Christmas, I was finally DONE!
Except I thought I was done two days earlier, so had wrapped all the presents then, thinking I was completed … I was still wrapping right up to the day.
On Christmas Wrapping
Just short of beating my kids with rolls of wrapping paper, I summoned up the strength to wrap all the gifts when I had a moment. Chippie, incapable of leaving me alone for more than 17 seconds at a time, was allowed to help.
He did this by dictating to me which paper to use and insisted I put a curling ribbon on everything. I hate doing this, and generally limit it to a few gifts only. At the conclusion, the gifts did look pretty and I had organised them in piles according to who was going to be at what place, when and, therefore, when their gifts would be distributed.
I acquired Monkey Boy to write the labels – because in all my daily shopping trips, not once did I remember to purchase gift tags or stickers – and make them festive.
“Oh, and don’t mix the piles up,” I add.
Return to find labels, gorgeously done, on each gift, and one large pile of gifts in the middle of the room. Fuck it.
On Christmas Baking
In all of this, I agreed to make a gingerbread house for the Christmas gathering, a 15 year tradition with friends, that we were attending on Boxing Day. I’d also planned to do my Christmas Pav for the family thing of Christmas evening.
Not only were we hosting Christmas dinner for the Family Thing, but we were hosting it in our current housing situation, which, whilst a rather large, sprawling abode, hosts the worst fucking kitchen in the world, including the worst oven in the world.
Chippie is a great baking helper. The Shittest Oven In the World, however, is not and despite our best intentions, our gingerbread people suffered such severe burns that we were forced to put them out of their misery.
The rest of the gingerbread house was barely any better, and definitely not useable.
Chippie was enthralled with the distinct colouring of the gingerbread people, but it was when I found myself saying “no, we’re not going to be eating the black people” that I felt it best to put an end to that conversation.
Another batch of gingerbread dough was made and baked.
It was better, and the people suffered a slightly less worse fate, with the male obtaining severe burns to the top of his head, his hands and his feet. Gingerbread Girl didn’t fare so well.
The upshot of this was I didn’t have to attempt to include them in the final product and only had the house to decorate – with the aid of children (more on that later).
I did, however, have to make the meringue for the pavlova in the stupid oven.
This was done by carefully following the cooking instructions and the use of a temperature probe that, had the oven had the opening for it, I would have happily shoved in there and laughed gleefully.
The instructions said to “pre heat the oven to 150 degrees C, then reduce temp to 120 for cooking”.
The ovens lowest temperature appeared to be 150 degrees, so the next hour was spent attempting to keep the oven at 120 by adjusting the opening of the oven door by degrees.
Thus, the pav was cooked at temperatures ranging from 68 degrees Celcius, through to 175 degrees (but that was because the probe had slipped and was resting on the bottom of the oven and not reflecting the correct temperature).
I help little hope for it’s outcome …
Whilst most of this was going on, Monkey Boy was off giving Grumpy Pants a hand with the increased workload, and Chippie and Godzilla were getting along remarkably well. I stopped for a second and just appreciated how well they were playing together and at the lack of arguing, yelling, crying and dictating that usually goes on.
LEGO was being constructed and there was peace throughout the house.
I took a moment and went for an uninterrupted wee.
I came out and found this … and I have no words …
This kept them occupied for some time.
On Looking After Myself
We were approaching The Day.
In fact, it was the day before Christmas, all the presents were wrapped, as much baking and cooking and food preparation as could be done was done, the dining room was set up and ready to accommodate 17 or so for dinner, the biscuits and milk were left out for Santa and all that was left was to place the presents, sneakily under the tree.
I glanced, ever so briefly, at myself in the mirror and pondered when the last time I showered was.
I really had to remove that leaked mascara from under my eyes.
I licked my fingers and tried to rub it off, the best I could do under the circumstances.
Then I remembered I hadn’t actually worn mascara for some time, possibly since Mums’ Night Out! in May.
Food and Family and Gifts
At the end of it all, Santa had his biscuits … and he ate all but one.
Yes, he left the one that looked like a poo. A “turd” to be exact, and carefully crafted by the thirteen-year-old during his Christmas Baking Activity in the last week of school. He made a few. They are still all uneaten.
The pavlova I managed to make look good …
I’m not really sure how it happened – but can give full credit to the Grumpy One for his useful tips – but the meringue turned out well and it tasted better than it looked.
The Gingerbread House, minus charcoaled people and pine tree – was a hit, and then hit as it was smashed to pieces with a mallet. Dinosaurs featured heavily because … well, because the five-year-old was given input.
Dinner with family was enjoyable, no fights, not arguing, lots of great food and just nice to be with each other. Over the years we have a nice little system happening, and it’s just a nice time of year and a nice gathering.
Gifts were given and received – and received well – I had even selected gifts that were much better received than I had anticipated, and that made me extremely happy.
Chippie’s favourite, which he has slept with the last two nights, was a robot claw, valued at $10 – the best gift ever!
The house has since been resorted to relative normal, wrappings disposed of and most gifts found a home.
It’s been good.
How was your Christmas? Did you have fun?