Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Calm and Laid-Back Christmas :)

I didn't do anything special for Christmas this year, which actually is something special at our house.  There was no Christmas project like I've done in years past, no pressure, no stress-inducing obligations.  Since health issues have impacted my life and my daughter's life this year, and since my son has been in the habit of reminding me lately that this would be my last Christmas with him (my youngest) being a "kid" (he will be 18 in April), I decided this year's holiday should be low-key and just... nice.  Relaxed.  Just us and our close friends.  I absolutely refused to let anything bother me.  And it's a good thing I kept that attitude, because there were a couple of - ummm - bumps in the proverbial road.  But nothing we can't all just laugh about later.  See how much better it feels when you look at it all that way?

Christmas Eve went well.  I'd wanted to get all of my decorations unpacked and out on display, but that didn't happen and I didn't let it bum me out.  So far, so good!  I'd also wanted my house to be cleaner than it was, but I did what I could and then said, "Aw, heck - these are our friends, they've all been here before, and they don't care if there's a stain on the carpet or some dust bunnies under the sofa."  I wiped the lipstick off the milk jug (just kidding - I don't wear lipstick - hahaha) and just let things be.  Got myself into the kitchen and started cooking, because that's what really matters.  Goodies.  ;)

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have seen the recipe for Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies that I shared recently.  Well, I made those; here they are, ready for the oven:

See all that salt on the tops of them?  Yeah, that's too much.  Just letting you all know.  If you try these, go lighter on the salt than I did.  This was my fault; instead of sprinkling it on like you're supposed to, I put the salt in the palm of my hand and pressed the cookie dough lightly into it.  I did that because I couldn't get the salt to stick at all when I sprinkled it, but it any case, it was just too much.

Here they are, all done and pretty:

You can really see the over-salting in this pic, I think.  But all we had to do was brush off the excess and then they were super yummy.  I highly recommend giving these a try!

Also a little idea that I saw (and shared) on my Facebook page, really just a simple but clever thing, was to put veggie dips into hollowed-out peppers instead of bowls.  I'm terrible about having the camera ready and taking pictures when I should, so I didn't get a shot of my little veggie platter while it was still pretty and no one had dug into it yet, but here it is mid-foodfest:

Since I am, as I said, pretty bad about having the camera ready, I don't have a lot of photos of me and the kids being our festive selves.  But here's a pic of my son being goofy.  It's a horrible picture of me, but I'm willing to humiliate myself and show it for the sake of showing you all how charming and fun my little Jeff is.  :)

Gawd, I have so many chins in that pic.  But hey, a tree on your head makes up for everything, I say.

Here's my good friend Kathy and her son Justin, just hanging out and having some laughs with us:

Yes, the tree hat-thing made its way around.  :)

And that was that.  A few friends, a few drinks (Kahlua comes in gingerbread flavor!) and some good food (I made cranberry-chili meatballs, jalapeno poppers, spinach dip, and my super-famous chicken-enchilada dip).  Christmas Eve, done.  And without a single stressful moment.  Ahhh...

So, I thought things were going pretty smoothly, and I anticipated an easy Christmas morning.  No last-minute stuff I forgot to do, no high-pressure or fancy-schmancy plans.  Coffee ready to go the night before, requiring only that I flip the switch to "on" when I woke up, and a blissfully easy morning was ahead of me.

I did head straight for that coffee pot when I casually rolled out of bed at 10 a.m., feeling cool as a proverbial cucumber.  Then, just as I passed by and saw it go down out of the corner of my still-sleepy eye, this happened:

I heard the glassy "thud" just as my head turned instinctively toward the suspicious movement I'd caught in a glance.  And down it went.  See that innocent-looking puppy dog there?  Well, truth be told, she really was innocent.  It was our beagle who did the deed.  So, do you know what I did?  Nothing.  I just smiled and kept walking toward that coffee maker.  I turned it on and then headed toward my office, just to check the news online while I calmly waited for the percolating to finish and for the aroma of pumpkin-spice coffee to waft through the house.

That's when I encountered this:

I've cropped the photo to spare you the gore, but those are feathers (and the occasional beak piece or bird-toe) all over the floor.  It seems our sweet little kitty cat, Tiny, had gone all Kill Bill during the night and had a fight-to-the-death with not one but two birds in my office.  I had left the back door open the night before (this is Arizona - it's not that cold), and apparently she took this as an invitation to show off her ninja skills.  Being less than entirely graceful in her massacre, she knocked absolutely everything off of my desk and every other available surface in the room.  Then she proceeded, as far as I could tell, to spread her own kitty-cat version of holiday cheer (i.e. bird bits) from wall to wall and ceiling to floor.  Meowy Christmas to me!

And once again, I did nothing.  I looked over the crime scene, smiled to myself, left the room and determined to clean it up later (those birds weren't getting any deader).  The evil forces of the universe were conspiring to stress me out, but I was having none of it!  They would not win!

A couple of the neighborhood boys who frequently hang out at our house helped me straighten the tree back up, by the way.  And only one ornament was broken.  One!  And it was one I'd never really liked, anyway.  Take that, forces of the universe!

I got the kids up, my parents came over, and the gift-opening frenzy began.  I didn't get any pictures of the frenzy itself (I told you I was bad about that), but here's the aftermath:

I think that shot sufficiently shows that we had a generally good time.  And I don't know why my daughter is staring at the door there in the corner, but she reminds me of that guy at the end of The Blair Witch Project.  Nevermind.  Lol.

Next we were off to the movies.  We'd never done that before - gone to the movies on Christmas.  I know some people do it, but we always had some big, stressful plans to keep up with.  Not this year.  We all went together to see Les Miserables (awesome) and chow down on popcorn in-between sobs.  (Yeah, it's a tear-jerker, but if you know Les Miz, you know that already.)

Anne Hathaway is amazing, by the way.

Then we headed back to the house to quickly warm up our respective dishes (my daughter made her potato casserole, and I made my almost-as-famous-as-the-chicken-enchilada-dip pineapple-cranberry upside-down cake), and we were off to my parents' house for dinner.

We had prime rib, which was a first for our family's Christmas dinners.  And asparagus with Hollandaise sauce.  And some kind of high-falutin' mushrooms that my dad said took him nine hours to cook (I don't know what they were called, but they were worth the time).  And my parents were nice to me, which is unusual (that's a whole 'nother blog post, which I'll probably never do).  Everyone was in a good mood, nothing went wrong, and if anything did, I ignored it.  The evil, stress-inducing forces of the universe were foiled again.

After that I have no idea what everyone else did, because I crashed on the sofa.  Hard.

And that, my friends, was that.  Christmas as it should be, I believe.

And to all a good night.  ;)

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