Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Traditions: More New Celebrations and Overdoing

You realize Christmas is, like, next week, don't you? I'm really quite put out with how quickly this holiday is bearing down on me. I really am going to start a campaign to get it moved to the end of January (or perhaps even February), because really, where it is in the calendar right now, just makes winter start one month earlier than it should (it's still fall people!), and leaves us with nothing to look forward to but a long, bleak winter. Who's with me?

In any case, the reason this is stressing me out is that I have (as usual) given myself too much to do in way too little time. If only I could be a normal presents and, you know, BUY presents, it would be fine, but something about this time of year turns me into Crafty Sue. I would blame the Internets and my obsession with craft blogs, but I remember one Christmas, way back in the late 1990s before anyone even used the Internet for anything other than term papers and weird chat rooms (when the only computer we owned was the Big Mac--one of those old, all-in-one Macintosh's--that definitely did not have any way to access the Internet), when C and I made the paper for 50 Christmas cards that we printed with a hand-carved wood block. So apparently it's my nature, not the interwebs' fault.

Anyway, this weekend was a flurry of celebrating. We had our annual Hanukkah feast Saturday night with our usual golden latkes made with half sweet potato using the Sundays at Moosewood blender technique (though I left half the potatoes unblended for a bit more texture). And, as usual, me acted like I was poisoning him, though Z gobbled his down and E, with a little help from me (is it wrong that I still spoon-feed my 4 1/2 year old most dinners?), ate his too. Sunday I got up early and made Lucia buns for St. Lucia day, and then the boys helped me cut out gingerbread boys, girls and babies. (Does it sound like our multicultural celebrations just involve eating? Hmmm...maybe I should work on this). I used the Lucia bun recipe from Christmas in Scandinavia, which we checked out from the library for the occasion, and I always use a chocolate gingerbread cookie recipe from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living (I don't often have good luck with Martha recipes--usually they involve a huge amount of work for kind of "meh" results--but these cookies rock my socks).

I'm really liking this new system of making one batch of cookies each weekend all December, and then just eating them, without worrying about saving them or giving them away (though if anyone is around, we do share!). I've also found that it works great for me to mix the dough Saturday evening after the kids are in bed--it saves me from the arguments over every 1/4 teaspoon of ingredients (my turn! no mine!), and it gives the dough time to chill, so that we're not all tired of making cookies before we even start making cookies--and then involving the kiddos in rolling/cutting Sunday morning (it also makes the day a bit longer--we were done with buns and cookies by 10 a.m.!). It also divides the dishwashing over two days, which is nice.

No pictures of either cookies or buns (which didn't turn out that pretty anyway because I had a bit of trouble with the egg wash--forgot to mix in the water and no longer have a pastry brush since mine got all moldy and disintegrated) because we also spent the weekend in Sweat Shop mode, with the kids cranking out holiday gifts and me cracking the whip...nothing like enforced creativity. Actually Sunday C took over for the most part, and things went a bit more smoothly than Saturday when their tired and cranky (because she went out to celebrate her last day on the old job) Mama was at the helm of the Fabric Marker ship.

Sunday afternoon we met friends in Waterville to see a performance of The Nutcracker. I've taken M the last two years, but this was E and Z's first time. They lasted until about the last 10 minutes when they got restless, but they were quite rapt through most of the show (though now Z claims to only have liked the soldiers!). We finished out the night with Thai food and drove home through the snow-turning-to-rain, for our Advent book of the day (Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas--a favorite around here) and early bed, so I could spin my wheels a bit on Christmas projects (I really am pushing the limit on making things that I need to mail to Colorado ASAP) before retiring for an early bed myself.

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