Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas

Christmas was just lovely. Everything turned out well at the very last possible minute.

I didn't have any Christmas spirit, though, until the evening of the 24th. Up until then I was working so hard at filling Christmas orders and making presents that I hadn't been able to relax at all. We took the kids to my parents' house for the traditional Christmas Eve spaghetti-and-meatballs dinner. My dad, evidently pleased with the festive visual disaster of mixing red with green, made green spaghetti again. My brother's girlfriend's parents had given my parents a whole bunch of fresh grated parmesan cheese, and it was excellent. Favorite Husband gave me "pretty sparklies"-- a pair of real gemstone earrings-- and a cutting mat and ruler for the rotary cutter. I will have to check his bank account to make sure it's not overdrawn.

As we herded the kids back into our house, excited and hopped up on sugar, I found an anonymous gift by the door. It contained a small wooden nativity puzzle. I have always loved those wooden nativity puzzles, but I never had one. Suddenly, there it was-- the Christmas spirit! Just in time to stuff the stockings.

I was worried that the kids would be spoiled brats, dissatisfied with their Christmas haul. We haven't got much money this Christmas, so we couldn't afford the toys they wanted. Each child got a large yet inexpensive present from Santa and a large yet inexpensive one from us. Tiny Princess got a globe and a lamp, Sonshine got a Lego set and a big-boy car seat, and Bagel (who doesn't use the height of his Santa present as a metric for equal treatment) got a digital ear thermometer and a feeding seat. The stockings themselves were stuffed with nuts and tangerines and a few small books and toys (Bagel got bottles and rattles). We had a little trouble with Sonshine insisting that the globe, too, was rightfully his because he had wished for one. Unfortunately for him, he had not made his wish for a globe known to Santa, so Santa gave it to Princess instead.

I also had underwear for the two older kids, but I couldn't wrap it because the kids had made off with my tape dispenser after I got mad at them for putting pieces of tape all over the carpet. I had wanted to wrap the underwear in boxes with the other clothes, but my sewing machine broke down earlier this week and I couldn't finish Princess' clothes, so I gave them only the underwear lest they cry favoritism. Favorite Husband, dear caring man that he is, ran out on Christmas Eve and got me a roll of tape; but I was too mentally exhausted by the time he got back to use it to wrap the underwear.

Sonshine, in a fit of pique, complained earlier this week that he only ever gets boring presents, like Legos and underwear. I cringed when I heard him say that-- Legos and underwear were exactly what we had gotten him. He had wanted a Hot Wheels set that has "hot lava", but the reviews on Amazon all said that it was a nightmare and continually had to be put back together by grown-ups. Nevertheless, he was mightily pleased with having the big-boy car seat we have been promising him as a reward for learning to control his tantrums. I hope that we are successful in teaching him to master himself; this will be much more important in the long run than whether or not he had a cool hot lava Hot Wheels set for a couple months before it ended up at Goodwill.

Christmas Day was excellent. I was in a very good and stable mood, even through the frenzy of holiday cooking. My parents, however, were a little bit off-balance. My dad got mad at my mom for cooking three packages of brownies when they already had half a chocolate cake, and for using his favorite raspberry ginger ale in the punch instead of regular ginger ale. My mom, who usually responds to my dad's nit-picking by letting it roll right over her, got all flustered and looked near to tears. I was able to smooth it over by persuading my dad that we could always give the extra brownies to the neighbors or, barring that, throw them away; he wouldn't be under any obligation to eat up all the leftovers, and Mom could still have the Portuguese idea that running out of food constitutes the eighth deadly sin. And I told my mom that I thought using the raspberry ginger ale was an excellent idea that would give a new dimension of flavor to the old punch recipe.

My sister J and her husband J (who is in med school) and my niece Strawberry (not her real name) came out from San Francisco, and we had a great time. I'm thinking of asking my sister J to sell my stuff in San Fran in exchange for a commission, because it can sell there at a higher price. I gave Strawberry a poncho for Christmas; it went over very well. My other nieces, Blondie and Curly, loved their gifts of oven mitts (which matched their mom's), muffin trays and mix. They baked their muffins on Christmas morning and ate them gleefully.