Merry Christmas, the holidays are over! The big day has come and gone and it definitely felt as if our life was filled with a never-ending list of tasks and todos. We were lucky to start out the season pretty well by purchasing most of our gifts online. It made our house look like a post office but it was far easier than going out and fighting through the stores every day. We finished up our shopping last weekend before the crowds got really thick and had about half of our presents wrapped. We both worked every day last week and slowly started to get ready for the big weekend as the week wore on. Once the clock struck 5 PM on Friday we began our all-out assault on Christmas weekend.
There were a few things this year that we had to plan for that added a bit of extra complication to our normal holiday. We usually invite my sister and her family over for dinner so we had the standard menu and dessert planning activities. My Dad and his wife Schawnté were also going to visit so we had to prepare their room and plan extra food. Sally’s mother and grandparents were also going to join us which put us at 15 people, which is way over the limit of space in our house. As a result, Sally and her mom had the idea to decorate the garage and have the dinner out there which added another thing to our list.
The garage was a pretty big undertaking. We had to move the cars, clean the floor, roll out a carpet that we got from a friend, steam clean the carpet, put up sheets to hide some of our junk (like pellets and tools), put out tables and chairs, put out heaters, and decorate it with Christmas cheer. That took us from Thursday to Monday to complete. Thankfully we had Sally’s mom to help. By the time it was done we had a very nice function room complete with a dining area, a sitting area, and a TV for the kids.
In addition to the garage we had to prepare my Dad’s room which at the time was full of old baby toys and junk. It had to be transformed into a comfortable room that someone could spend some time in. We put down a rug, cleaned up the toys, put a heated mattress pad on the bed, put up a mirror, threw in some decorations, and put together a “welcome package”. My Dad was set to arrive on Sunday evening in Boston at 10 PM but he wouldn’t be to our house until about midnight or 1 AM Monday morning. It wasn’t a problem because there was so much to do – I planned to stay up and wait for them. All was good until their plane had electrical problems and was stuck on the run way for two hours. By the time they got to our house it was 4 AM. I took a short nap but it was a long night.
Christmas Eve was spent putting the finishing touches on the decorations, cleaning the house (which started days before), and spending a little bit of time talking and enjoying the boys. In the evening we headed over to Sally’s Aunt’s house for Christmas Eve party. By the time we got home it was time to put the boys to bed and start prepping food for the next day. Sally made fudge and mini pumpkin pies while I made garlic mashed potatoes and sweet potato-russet potato mash. Doing that ahead of time would give us a little extra breathing room on Christmas day. After some cooking and a little visiting we headed off to bed.
Christmas morning was no less packed than any other day. We planned to get up early and shower before the boys woke up but we were pretty tired so that didn’t happen. Nine AM arrived and we started our gift-opening extravaganza. I absolutely love unwrapping gifts but after this Christmas I don’t know if I can unwrap one more item. The boys got so many gifts. They were so overwhelmed by the sheer number of items that we had to open gifts three separate times and we still have items to unwrap that we are just going to save for their birthday.
After gifts we began cooking for our afternoon feast. Sally had already made most of her desserts and I had already made potatoes so we basically only had meats and vegetables to cook. My family traditionally has ham for Christmas but last year I made an herb-roasted turkey breast as well and it was a big hit. I do the breast only because it takes far less time to cook than an entire turkey (the dark meat takes the longest time to cook which is why the breast tends to be dry). I put together an herb rub made of olive oil, lemon juice, various and sundry herbs and spices from our cabinets, and lots of delicious sea salt. I rub it under the skin and then roast the entire breast in a pan filled with wine. It usually comes out juicy and delicious. I was worried about cooking the ham and turkey at the same time but it ended up working out fine with the turkey finishing about 45 minutes faster than the ham. I covered it with tin foil and it stayed hot until carving.
By the time everyone arrived for dinner we were already tired from cooking, warming, and transferring food to the garage. We had a very nice dinner together and we received many compliments on the food, particularly on the turkey and the cake balls. Once dinner was cleaned up we opened gifts yet again and the boys were once again overwhelmed by all the commotion. We popped the Polar Express into the DVD player to round out the night while Sally and I cleaned up. Once everyone was gone we were quite tuckered but still stayed up late to chat with my Dad and Schawnté.
The holiday took a lot of planning and prep but it turned out well and people had fun. We won’t have my Dad and Schawnté over next year but who knows, maybe we’ll invite someone else. Is this the beginning of a big-dinner tradition?