I think I like the day after Christmas best.
It's sort of a weird feeling – the feeling of not having anything looming ahead. All the holiday baking is done, holiday meals have been eaten, gifts exchanged and opened and played with, wrapping paper burned or put in my paper-making bin, plastic Barbie-imprisonment devices tossed in the trash, undecorated cookies thrown out for the seagulls and the squirrels.
We spent a few minutes this morning gathering the remaining scraps from the floor in the living room and making sure nothing was accidentally thrown away or burned.
And right now the kids are downstairs playing with the Wii that Santa brought for the whole family to SHARE. Wonderfully, Santa and our soon-to-be-officially-related-by-marriage-niece-in-law, Emily, were in communication and she and Joe brought us the Wii Fit as well. Later today, once I banish the rest of the family from the basement, I'll go on there and record all my horrendous physical stats and start setting up a workout program for myself. My sister got a Wii Fit for her kids, theoretically, but she was getting herself set up on it this morning, so I'm thinking Calvin and Natalie will need to share as well.
Last night was, in a way, my favorite part of the whole two-day Christmasathon. Relaxed, well-fed, and back to the little nucleus of family, we sat around in the basement trying out various Wii features. We bowled. (Alex won.) We tried out some of the balancing games in the Wii Fit. I walked the tightrope without falling. Julia flapped around as a chickadee. Both kids headed soccer balls and dodged cleats and Panda heads. There was a lot of laughing. A LOT of laughing.
But to back up a bit…
Christmas Eve was dinner and gifts with Bill's brother, Bob, and Bob's kids, Joe and Lisa, and Joe's fiance, Emily. Bob and Lisa flew up from Floriday on the day of the massive snowstorm we had this past weekend, and, having lived in Florida for – wow – 7 years now or so, they weren't all that thrilled with this week's weather – they don't have a whole lot of need for thick sweaters most of the time. But Christmas Eve was warm and cozy in our house.
For dinner we went Mexican: Grilled hanger steak and chicken breast, and grilled portobello mushrooms, red and green bell peppers and red onions, for fajitas. I made tortillas – which I will do again soon and post about because they're simple to make and so much better than store bought. Yes, store-bought ones are fine, convenient, and uniform in size. But…homemade tortillas are so worth the bit of time they take to make. Julia was eating them plain, like potato chips. We made guacamole, Emily brought salsa and chips, and we FEASTED. I believe Joe ate four HUGE fajitas. Oh, and we made a rice and beans dish, which was an adaptation of a recipe we found in the Diana Kennedy mexican cookbook we have.
For dessert I'd made eggnog flan. I doubled the recipe; I should have tripled it. It was good.
For beverages, Bill's currently got four of his homebrewed beers on tap: a pale ale, a red ale, an oatmeal stout, and "Holiday Cheer," which is kind of like gingerbread cookies in a glass.
After dinner we moved into the living room and opened gifts, and then we brought Alex into the kitchen to let him know that we were giving Julia her own guitar (she's shown enough interest in playing that we decided it was worth the purchase – she's got an adorable half-size, second hand guitar – it's beautiful and sounds lovely), but that it wasn't a Christmas gift; the timing just worked out that way, sort of like how when he got his guitar it was near his birthday, but it wasn't a birthday gift. And Alex got that completely. Bill asked Alex if he wanted to give the guitar to Julia, and Alex nodded. Then we followed Bill through the dining room to get it, and I saw Alex's head droop a bit and thought I heard a little sniffle, and I held him by the shoulders and asked what was wrong. And he said "It's okay, Mom. I'm just crying tears of joy again. Dad does so many good things for us."
Julia was happy with her new guitar. It looks huge compared to her pink ukelele.
Later, Lisa went outside with her little cousins to scatter reindeer food and carrots. And then Alex and Julia selected some cookies to leave out for Santa, as well as some carrots and grapes, because Alex thought Santa should have some nutritious food besides just cookies. We put the plate in the living room, and I put the kids to bed.
Christmas morning was lovely. Alex was the first one out of bed; I got up when I heard the fan in the downstairs bathroom turn on. He hadn't opened anything, just took a look at labels on packages, and had a look at the topmost item in his stocking, which was a five dollar bill and a note from Santa, telling Alex the cash was for him to spend at Taco Bell. Apparently when Santa went to Taco Bell to get a gift card, they were sold out of them in every store in the state. You'd think after all these years, Santa might plan ahead a bit better and not leave that sort of thing for the last minute. Ah well. Alex was happy enough with the money and the personalized note.
My side of the family arrived between noon and one, and we ate at about 2:00. Christmas dinner was roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, along with a variety of sides: mashed turnip, broccoli and spinach casserole, Brussels sprouts sauteed with diced bacon, and my sister's yin-yang mashed white and sweet potatoes. The five-rib roast was seared first, and then slow-cooked in a 200 degree oven from 6:45 until about 12:45. The house smelled fabulous all morning.
Bob, Lisa, Joe & Em came by around 3 or so, to finish the gift-giving. (They couldn't bring the Wii Fit until we'd opened Santa's Wii gift, so that was left out of the exchanging on Christmas Eve.)
Oh, and my sister crocheted a scarf-like collar for me, and made me a beautiful necklace of copper and purple and red beads. Thank you, Mere!
For dessert, there was apple pie my mother brought and the rest of the flan I'd made for the previous night. Most everyone had flan, except Alex, who doesn't like that sort of thing but DOES like apple pie. A lot.
And then, bit by bit, family left, until once again it was just the four of us, a bunch of dirty dishes, and the rest of the Christmas debris.
We played with the Wii stuff…I had a very welcome bath with new bath stuff my kids gave me for Christmas, and that pretty much concludes the highlights of our holiday this year.
And tomorrow? Bob and Lisa fly back to Florida, and Joe is back on active duty and flies toward the desert until May. Hopefully it won't go beyond that. He wasn't supposed to leave so soon, but…stuff happens, you know?
Anyway, that's it for now.
How was your Christmas?