Simon's third Christmas is in the books, and it was a quiet one spent together at home. For his first, we propped him up against pillows, and he shared the fun with his cousins. For his second, we spent time with my in-laws, the day after a scary car accident. This year, we were quite content to have an uneventful day, but we really missed getting the cousins together.
Diana spent a good part of Christmas Eve doing preparatory work for pie, cinnamon rolls and bread. Simon helped quite a bit, adding stuff to the mixer. He really likes small appliances, which I'm not sure how to feel about. The cinnamon roll recipe made enough for a small army, so she gave half to a neighbor and parent group friend down the street, who in turn gave us a half-dozen eggs from their chickens. (Yes, they have chickens.) The bread was interesting because it didn't require a whole lot of work, certainly no kneading, and cooked in a dutch oven.
The evening of Christmas Eve was reserved for romance and Miracle on 34th Street. If our vacation taught us anything, it was to remember to make more time exclusively for each other, meaning without Simon, hobbies, the Internet or whatever. In fact, Diana had made it a point to schedule babysitters and make sure we have date nights on a regular interval.
Christmas day started out with those amazing cinnamon rolls. So good, but not good for you. Our gift exchange was fairly brief, because we agreed to go light on gift spending, since I already bought Diana her sewing machine, and frankly our vacation spending has been an extraordinary gift for us both. I know it makes me sound like a Christmas hipster or something, but we really try to make kindness and gift giving a regular affair among us. It might also sound cliche to say it, but I really think that every day I get to spend with my little family is a gift.
As for gifts and Simon, we have no idea what we should be doing as parents yet. Diana has been pretty conscious of how much stuff Simon has, because kids obviously have their favorite toys. I know I often had a lot that were never played with. In future years, we would like him to choose toys to donate prior to Christmas and his birthday. A lot of his own toys are already second-hand. But certainly we like to buy him stuff, and want him to have engaging toys, and he's just starting to understand what a gift is. Diana cheated a little, by buying him a toy cash register that one of his play date friends has, because he seemed fascinated by it. Sure enough, it's a hit. He also got another die-cast car from his grandparents, and he loves it. Being a growing train nut, his aunt and uncle sent him a remote control Thomas, but he's a little freaked out by it at the moment. I think he'll come around to it.
Simon can now identify who Santa is, but I don't think he knows what he does. There's a part of me that feels like telling him about Santa is a big lie, but as Diana put it, it does give him a chance to really embrace a bit of imagination and magic, even if it only really lasts a year or two. The irony is that I really want him to have a diverse religious education, and at the same time would prefer him to view Christmas as the birth of Christ first, and leave the Santa stuff second. Yeah, I over-think it.
We're still one year plus cable-free, but I still put in the A Christmas Story DVD and let it run through twice. Year after year, it never gets old. It's really one of the things about Cleveland that I like (and there aren't many these days).
For dinner, Diana prepared a turkey breast, without the bone, because we only eat the white meat, and an entire bird would be pretty ridiculous for two of us. Simon is still not really eating any meat we offer him beyond hot dogs, and even this sweet smelling poultry was not something he'd try. It was so moist and delicious. It was joined by broccoli and Diana's awesome skin-on mashed red potatoes. And then there was that ridiculously awesome loaf of bread that baked in the dutch oven. I don't know how bread can steal the show, but being the carbivore that I am, it did. It was completely awesome.
Simon was very sweet toward us most of the day. When we were winding down for bed with a little Sesame Street, he climbed up on the couch between us, and leaned over to kiss each of us on the shoulder. He's a real handful at times, but he's such a great kid. I love that he's a big hugger and kisser.
Since Diana was on her feet for much of the last 24 hours, she got exclusive Xbox usage for the evening so she could work on Lego Lord of The Rings. Oh, and there was the chocolate pie. I don't even want to know about the calorie intake for the day.
I really enjoyed our quiet family time at home, but I really missed having a Snoqualmie holiday. I really like holidays with my brother-in-law's family, especially for Simon, because his cousins are so close in age. Still, this is a holiday season less burdened by my work situation. Heading into November, I wasn't feeling great about things because my job was sucking my soul. I got serious about a new gig, and a weight was lifted when the right thing came along.
It's another year where the entire holiday season continues to evolve into something I look forward to and enjoy, after years of not doing either. Obviously that's largely because of my darling wife and child. It started with our fantastic Thanksgiving in North Carolina ad our fantastic Disney vacation, and it has been guided all the way by Diana, the queen of Christmas. We've had six Christmases together, each one very different, and every single one has been awesome.
Next comes the reflectivity of the new year. Lucky 2013 is on its way...