countdown to christmas

It’s December 21. As always around this date, a wee panic sets in. A little bit of a Groundhog Day feeling – haven’t I been here before? Maybe 365 days ago? Doing and saying exactly the same thing? I am sure it is the same for lots of people – there are just certain things/traditions that MUST happen in order for it to be Christmas.

Now is when the fear of not buying/making enough or not equally distributing the loot takes over. The budget has long been busted. The spreadsheet is seemingly in a foreign language. Then I let it go, say it will just have to be good enough. And it usually is.

But then I SWEAR that NEXT YEAR I will not find myself in this predicament. I will plan better, further ahead AND STICK TO THE PLAN AND THE BUDGET. For real. (Perhaps I should look in the archives – I bet I reminded myself then.)

Eh, the gifts are what they are. What REALLY causes panic is not getting all the baking done. I am woefully behind in this area.

Made so far: Santa’s Whiskers and Doris’ Ginger Cookies. There will be brioche cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

NOT MADE: Russian Tea Cakes, Sugar/Gingerbread Cookies. Matzo Roca. This is unacceptable.

Tonight I will try to crank out some fudge. But that doesn’t even begin to cover the things I’ve been wanting to make for YEARS and can never seem to get to. I wonder how much I can cram in 4 days.

Arkansas Fig Fruitcake?

Reindeer Feed?

And the holy grail: Stollen. I have several recipes clipped and long saved.

Next year I vow to bake and make all these things and SEND them to friends and family.


I better get busy.

Happy Holidays! I hope you get a moment to relax and enjoy friends and family. What it’s really all about.

Though cookies are nice, too. And egg nog with brandy…



Truth be told, there has been an obscene amount of struggle in our house in recent months. I chalked it up to hormones, mostly in a certain 14 year old girl child. The tiniest little thing can spin into an argument about god knows what.

Of course, these problems had nothing to do with ME.  I was only trying to help. With my incessant nattering on about things that don’t really matter, it turns out, or things that really should no longer be MY responsibility.

Two days ago there came a turning point. The Geek had been remarking under his breath whenever me and the girl started talking/arguing (sometimes innocently, it must be said) that “someday my family will get along”. I took this hard. To me it seemed like I was getting the blame, ALL the blame.

So I began thinking. What if all this grief WAS my fault. How could I change things.

Maybe it was a little bit about power, that I am the one in charge. But I never meant for that to happen – I really just forgot to notice that they weren’t small anymore. So I realized I needed to let go. I made a list of things I would no longer control, shifting responsibility and consequences back where they belong – to the people making the choices. The Geek thought this meant I was giving up on them. No, it meant it was time for them to stretch their wings a little and see what happened, showing them that I had faith they would make good decisions (ok, maybe this last bit was a stretch).

So last night, I sat them down and explained that I would no longer tell them when to go to bed, to hurry up and eat before school, to empty out their lunchboxes, to change out of hoochie clothes, to clean up their messes, to do their chores. If they failed to do these things on their own, they would be tired, hungry, get the wrong kind of attention,  find dirty dishes in their bed and the screen going dark if chores were not done.

It seemed to light something within them, this opportunity to consider their options without the reminding and haranguing. Was it perfect on the first night? No, I did issue a chore reminder before screen. I figure there’s an adjustment grace period. There was NO bedtime meltdown with the Girl Child though – I went to bed when she was still up. Her choice. I think I will institute a new rule tonight though – no screens after 9 pm. If they really want to stay up they can read or listen to music, but I really think their brains need to wind down without screens.

One thing I WILL continue to track  is homework. It is non-negotiable, BUT still their responsibility. I made the Boy Child search for answers to his math problems on his own. Guess what? He found them when he didn’t think he could. He is beginning to see improvement in all his work and just maybe starting to believe that he CAN do it. Baby steps.

I will be curious to see how things evolve. I am sure there will still be meltdowns over things for no reason – they are still 12 and 14. At least none of them will be me saying “go to bed!” for the 20th time in one night.