A Sunday Christmas: Time Perspective

Last Christmas happened to fall on a Sunday. This is always memorable because, in addition to a Christmas Eve service, we wind up attending church on Christmas morning.

For obvious reasons, this impacts the flow of our day. I happen to love when Christmas falls on a Sunday; attending church Christmas Day feels like an intuitive event given the spiritual foundation of the holiday. This year we found a great rhythm and the mid-morning break from presents served to extend our gift-opening and food-feasting!

Christmas won’t fall on a Sunday again for 11 years – 2033. (In 2027, Christmas is on a Saturday, but is followed by a leap year, so we jump right to Monday in 2028.)

My immediate thought? Abby will be almost 23 years old.

What will life look like? Christmas 2022 she was in middle school. By Christmas 2033, she will have completed high school and, potentially, a full university degree.

I got married the year I turned 22 and had my first child when I was 23.


Looking at time from different perspectives can be fascinating…and shocking. The days can feel long, but my goodness the years are short.

Especially when measured at the speed of Christmases.

Your turn. Have you ever considered time from a different perspective and been surprised at the conclusion? I did a long-range view of the kids’ ages/grades/our ages based on Kelsey’s “The years are short” spreadsheet; a fun glimpse into the future.

PS. If you’re curious, Christmas will also fall on a Sunday in 2039, 2044, and 2050!

Header photo by Jan Romero on Unsplash

Christmas 2022 <> A Recap

Years ago, when our kids were in preschool, we used to sing a song at their end-of-term parties while holding the sides of a giant parachute and dancing around in circles (yes, I always felt ridiculous). It was a catchy little ditty and even now it’s not unusual for someone in our family to randomly start singing – at the top of their lungs – It’s parachute time, it’s parachute time, play along with me.

Tonight, sitting in front of our Christmas tree cheerfully ablaze with (white) lights, I feel like breaking into song: It’s recap time, it’s recap time, read along with me

This post is dedicated to Jenny, whose enthusiasm for a Christmas recap has buoyed my spirits all week!

I would classify Christmas 2022 as Very Nice. Was it my favourite Christmas in recent memory? No. But this makes sense. We were coming off a very hectic fall full of travel for John and a lot of kiddo illnesses. I tried to keep my expectations at a realistic level and mostly succeeded. On the whole, we had a wonderful time and made great memories, but there were some tough moments too. Because, well, that’s life!

CHRISTMAS EVE Eve (AN amazing day)

Spoiler alert: THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE DAY OF 2022.

I intend for this to be the final year of awkwardly referring to this day as Christmas Eve Eve or the Eve of Christmas Eve. All credit goes to Colleen who mentioned her family calls this day Christmas Adam (since the next day is Christmas Eve, it winds up being “Adam” and “Eve”)! I broached this idea with the family and everyone was in agreement the terminology is genius.

We spent the day before (the Eve of Christmas Adam, I suppose?) at a local children’s hospital trying to track down the source of Levi’s odd symptoms. Waking up on Friday with no school, no doctors, and no pressure to be anywhere felt amazing.

John made me a coffee first thing (I limit myself to two cups a week because any more seems to upset my stomach and those cups are gloriously delicious) and sipped it while flipping through a Christmas book.

Then we cleaned.

This probably sounds like the lamest festive activity possible but, for me, it was the perfect antidote to all the chaos of recent weeks. We ran robovacuums upstairs and down, I scrubbed toilets (yup, still my favourite day of 2022!), I mopped floors, I emptied garbage cans and straightened books on shelves. As part of our preparations to update Abby’s room, we dismantled her bedframe and put her boxspring and mattress directly on the floor. She inherited a very nice – but giant – frame from us when we upgraded to a king-sized bed and it was always oversized for her space. Her room immediately felt significantly bigger and lighter.

I washed sheets. I repeat, I washed sheets (and pillowcases and duvets) on TWO beds.

I went for an 8 km walk with my best friend. En route we hand-delivered my final Christmas cards and stopped by a store to source my beloved Stash Holiday Chai tea (none available, but they’re ordering me two boxes). For part of our route, we opted to take a woods trail and came across a decorated evergreen in the wild. Everything about the experience felt magical.

John and I had an unexpected meeting when I got home, and the kids were ravenous by the time we were finished; he took them to Subway for lunch, while I stayed home and prepped supper – Curried Rice with Shrimp and a decadent seafood casserole (lobster, shrimp, scallops).

My parents arrived an hour earlier than expected; I was in exercise gear and looked like a disaster (I was cutting John’s hair when they walked in the door). But I flopped into a comfy chair despite the disarray and we chatted and it was lovely.

At supper, we lit candles and dimmed the lights. The kids were happy. The food was amazing; for dessert we enjoyed slices of pecan pie a friend had gifted us. Then we (minus John) watched a slapstick Christmas movie together (Christmas on Mistletoe Farm on Netflix; overacted with lots of potty humour, it has a very low rating on IMBD, but the kids loved it…and so did I).

From the outside, my day looks like it has a lot of rough edges, what with all the mopping and toilet scrubbing capped off by a low-production value movie. But it was, without a doubt, my favourite day of the year.

christmas eve (good, with a few bumps in the road)

This is typically my favourite day of the year; even though Christmas Eve Eve Adam took those honours in 2022, it was still fun.

Another coffee in the morning. So good. The kids watched a movie while I did some food prep. Mid-morning, Levi took a Christmas card to some neighbourhood friends and they ended up coming back to our place – the three of them played hallway soccer and discussed nuances of the World Cup for hours.

My parents came over for lunch – leftovers of the seafood casserole and rice from Christmas Adam. Unfortunately, at this point, the wheels fell off the bus. The kids started fighting and pushing each other’s buttons. We were planning to watch the animated 1966 Grinch and Charlie Brown’s Christmas. I won’t go into particulars – and I still don’t fully understand how things spiraled – but one child got sent to their room and another dissolved into epic tears about how The Grinch reminded them of vomit (sigh; don’t ask, another long story). So my parents left early, and the kids each “rested” in their rooms. I fumed for a bit, and then managed to embrace the change of plans. I took a long, relaxing shower and prepped for church at a leisurely pace. The breathing room was quite nice. Sadly, this is the first year since I was a kid I didn’t end up watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but I have survived.

The church service was great (we went to the early service at 4:30 pm) and it was over in less than an hour.

Per tradition, we had pizza on Christmas Eve. This year it was make-your-own on mini-Naan breads and they were delicious. While we ate dessert, Abby put on a piano performance. She made homemade programs for everyone, complete with jokes and hand-drawn pictures. Levi was perfectly supportive and didn’t seem jealous of all the applause – literally – his sibling was receiving (phew).

Then the kids opened up their new Christmas PJ’s (confession: I gave Levi the exact same pair of PJs he received last year. Literally. The same pair. He isn’t a big fan of onesie pajamas, but I couldn’t find anything to match Abby’s, so I pulled these from his closet months ago, wrapped them up for this Christmas and he was none-the-wiser). They both looked very cozy and festive!

Then we all took turns opening up our new ornaments.

I typically buy ornaments right after Christmas at a reduced price, but this year I ended up ignoring my stash and choosing items that were more relevant to current interests.

Abby received a Hermoine ornament; she went as this character for Halloween and is obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

Levi received a Pokemon (Pikachu) ornament. His expression was priceless. While he was unwrapping the ornament, he told me he expected to get something related to soccer or a baseball (last year, his blown-glass baseball ornament fell to the floor and broke within seconds of him opening it). Hilariously enough, I had a soccer-themed ornament all wrapped up, but as his obsession with Pokemon skyrocketed, a Pikachu character seemed like a more appropriate choice. He was very excited.

Christmas 2021 – literally milliseconds before that ornament broke into a million pieces. Notice the Christmas jammies. You’ll see them again in 2022 pictures.

John got me an adorable Snoopy ornament (I love the Grinch and Charlie Brown’s Christmas; years ago he got me a Grinch ornament, so I’m thrilled to have Charlie Brown’s Christmas memorialized on our tree as well).

Abby spotted this Eiffel Tower ornament for John. We didn’t source an ornament while we were in Paris and though this representation is a bit on the gaudy side (it’s covered in glitter), I like having a reminder of our special memories from that city and think it also more broadly represents our life adventures together.

We (minus John, he’s not a huge fan of cookie-cutter holiday romance films) watched another Christmas movie – one of my all-time favourite Hallmark ones, Window Wonderland.

The movie was a lot of fun, but I was absolutely exhausted by the time it was over. I still had to get the kids settled for bed, see my parents off for the night, and get stocking gifts organized. Note to self: organize the evening better next year. I was pretty grumpy and overtired by the time everything was squared away for Christmas morning (Abby and John helped).

christmas day (Good, BUT EXHAUSTING and Always a bit sad)

Christmas morning was wonderful. For the first time since December 2nd, we didn’t see Levi in the middle of the night. I told John it was a Christmas miracle! Turns out, he woke up Abby instead (sucks for her, but was great for me); she helped him warm up a magic bag, and then they had a sleepover. Thankfully they were both in good moods when they came to see us around 6:30ish. They had no complaints about waiting for my parents to arrive. I made a delicious cup of Chai tea which I sipped contentedly while watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas (without any of the drama from Christmas Eve). I started baking the Cinnamon Coffee Cake.

My parents arrived around 7:30 am. The kids took turns reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. Meatball (safely contained in a little travel tote) listened attentively.

And then we opened stockings. This was so much fun and the highlight of Christmas Day for me. We took turns unwrapping our stocking gifts one at a time (I had three or four stocking gifts total, which made me think of the SNL Christmas Morning skit; and I DID give my Mom a robe).

I’m going to do a separate post about gifts because I want to have it to reference next year, but I was really pleased with what I purchased this year for stocking stuffers. Stay tuned!

While we finished unwrapping the final stocking gifts, John scrambled eggs and finished prepping bacon. I pulled fresh Cinnamon Coffee Cake (monkey bread) out of the oven. But my favourite item? The orange juice. We so rarely buy orange juice and I had two glasses of it and it tasted absolutely wonderful.

My parents were going to a different church service, so they had to leave early. I cleaned up all the wrapping paper, put gift bags back into my wrapping stash, and generally tidied up the space. John and Levi played soccer outside with a new multi-use ball he had received. Then the kids worked on some craft kits and Abby peppered us with Would You Rather questions from her new book.

Then it was off to church at 11 am, home for lunch by 12:15 pm.

Every year we do a treasure hunt of clues for the kids to follow. I love this tradition. Each year I wrap the first clue up in about a dozen layers of boxes and bags and wrapping paper (the first layer is huge, so it’s ironic that they end up with a tiny slip of paper by the end). The kids are always giggling once they get to the 4th or 5th layer. And when they finally reach the first clue they are off like a bolt of lightning. This year our clues had them going all over the house, down to the mailbox, into the backyard, before eventually ending up across the street at our neighbours house. They have a Christmas tree on their back deck and we put the wrapped “treasure” under their tree (I had cleared this with our neighbours first and they were delighted to have their house be the final stop of the Frost Christmas Morning Treasure Hunt).

The gift? An itinerary for our 2023 trip to South Carolina inside a new family passport holder (I hated juggling boarding passes and passports the last time we traveled and found a great holder that zips closed, can hold up to 6 passports and has a zippered inside pouch). The kids were excited to learn about the trip, and the whole hunting process left them exhilarated.

While they were following clues, John was prepping lunch. A charcuterie board spread: cheese, meats, crackers, olives, and a shrimp ring.

And then it was back to unwrapping the main gifts. This went well, though I could feel my spirits flagging as the day went on. I was tired and there is just something so sad about Christmas afternoon to me. The tree looks bare without festive packages. And I think pent-up exhaustion from all the preparations really starts to sink in. All that work (SO MUCH WORK, much of it “unseen”), and now the experience is over? Plus, John and I were really, really sleep deprived from Levi’s restless nights.

My parents packed up their gifts and went home for a few hours. All I wanted to do was cry. But there were boxes and bags and gifts to be put away. I carried on because I knew an hour of work would have everything squared away (it did). And then we went on a woods walk as a family, stopping by that decorated evergreen tree, and life felt manageable again. When we got home, the kids played with their gifts and generally enjoyed lounging.

Abby enjoying two of her favourite gifts: a giant reading pillow and a Reverse Colouring book
Levi enjoying – no surprises here – LEGO.

My Mom brought homemade meatballs for supper, I made rice and peas and, for dessert, we had Cherry Cheesecake. It was all delicious!

We watched another Hallmark movie (In Merry Measure), and when my parents went home for the night around 9 pm, I felt satisfied and relaxed.

boxing day (fever alert! but still a GREAT DAY)

Again, we woke up with no child in our bed! But, deja vu, turns out Levi had gone into Abby instead. At 4:30 am. And he had an elevated temp. Sigh.

We were scheduled to host our turkey dinner at lunch time. My parents and a dear friend – widowed, with none of her grown children able to make it home over Christmas – were to join us.

I called to let my parents know about Levi’s fever. I offered to keep Levi sequestered away. Since they had been with him so much over the last few days it felt like that ship had sailed, but our friend helps care for her elderly mother and could no longer come over. We offered to take food to my parents so they could host her at their rental, but she wanted us to spend time together with family.

I felt so, so bad. I know she was excited to spend Christmas with us again (we did this one other year and it was lovely).

But, can I be perfectly honest? I was elated about what this did to our day. In the end, I suggested to my parents that we postpone things to an early supper instead. I stayed in my PJs until LATE into the afternoon. I did a bit of planning in my 2023 planner. John and Levi worked on LEGO. The kids watched a lot of screens. We all just randomly went to the fridge when we were hungry and sourced leftovers as needed. I tried on my new heated vest. John and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. I helped Abby put away her Christmas presents.

It was exactly what I wanted and needed after the rush of December activities.

Supper was simple but delicious. Levi rested in his room; he’s not too fussed by Christmas dinner anyway. My Mom prepared squash and carrots. We bought StoveTop stuffing and cranberry sauce. I opened a can of corn. We had a jar of boughten pickles. I prepped a turkey and baked potatoes. We had leftover Cherry Cheesecake for dessert. It was delicious.

Yet again we watched a movie! This time it was about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His work hits close to home because the poem Evangeline was written about the deportation of Acadians from Nova Scotia. His fictionalized story about this event has been thoroughly integrated into local culture.

That statue in the background at a local UNESCO World Heritage Site is of “Evangeline”, from Longfellow’s famous poem.

The focus of the movie was on the death of his wife which inspired him to write the carol I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day. While it was a Christmas movie, it was very sad. I’m glad I watched it…but definitely not a Hallmark-style ending.

All-in-all, this was a nice Christmas holiday. There were some ups and downs but I really appreciate how I can look back on the experience in its totality; for example, from the outset, I was dreading having to jump into prepping turkey and all the fixings first thing Boxing Day morning. But I ended up in my PJs until after 4 pm! While I wish Levi hadn’t spiked a fever, at least there were some silver linings. On December 27th, we were supposed to host three kids for a friend; while I knew it was going to be a big help to her, because of Levi’s fever – you guessed it – we had to cancel those plans…and I stayed in my PJs most of the day!

things that worked great

Overall, I feel like following along with my template from previous years (now memorialized in a spreadsheet) was a success. Highlights:

  • Our seafood casserole meal on Christmas Adam. So delicious and a perfect kick-off to the main Christmas events.
  • Watching a holiday movie each night. Such a relaxing way to spend the evenings. It feels cozy and festive.
  • Lighting candles at dinner each night.
  • Using paper plates when appropriate.
  • John took the kids out for lunch on Christmas Adam while I prepped supper. It was positively luxurious to have the house to myself for an hour to cook and clean. Getting the kids out of the house on Christmas Adam/Christmas Eve so I can work solo would be a great annual tradition.

Things to adjust for next year

  • We’ll skip the charcuterie on Christmas Day. Abby and John love it, but the rest of us are meh, and it makes for a lot of leftovers that need to be consumed quickly (shrimp ring, cured meats). I have no idea what to do for lunch on Christmas Day next year, though. Sandwiches on the panini press?
  • I need to add more butter to the base of my cherry cheesecake recipe. It didn’t taste salty enough (weird, I know); thankfully it tasted much better after sitting in the fridge an extra day.
  • I want to take more items out of their packaging before they get wrapped.
  • Start watching movies earlier. By the time the movies were done, I was ready for bed but still needed to help the kids get settled. I ended up feeling overtired a lot of evenings (though, admittedly, middle-of-the-night wakings don’t help with this).
  • I’d love to find some way to spread gift-opening over multiple days. I suspect the kids will revolt against this?! But I LOVED opening stockings on Christmas morning and honestly would have been content to stop there for the day and open the main gifts on Boxing Day. I feel like that would be a tough sell with the kids, but it would extend the fun of it all…
  • I’d like to have more people stop by for finger foods over the holidays. We used to do this pre-COVID. This year we were exhausted from…life…but if the health and energy level stars align, next year I’d love to spontaneously invite people over for an hour to hang out, play games, nibble on cookies. Having my parents was wonderful, but it did make me a bit sad we weren’t able to welcome people for short, impromptu get-togethers.

Your turn. How was your Christmas? Any notable highs or lows? What do you call the Eve of Christmas Eve? Do you start feeling a bit melancholy on Christmas Day?

Memories of Christmas Past: Vol 1

Every year I wait for a specific brand of holiday magic – a unique set of emotions that Christmas used to conjure up. Yet I never *quite* find what I’m looking for.

Christmas as an adult is different. It’s not bad in any way, just…different. And it’s always slightly bittersweet to reflect on memories of Christmas past because while I am filled with warmth and good cheer, there is also a tinge of sadness that things will never again be what they once were.

(Can anyone relate? I don’t know if this is normal, or an isolated experience.)

Regardless, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents – but in particular my mother – for making the Christmases of my childhood truly idyllic.

There is a particular magic that comes from eating delicious Christmas treats…without having to raise a finger to make them. There is a particular magic that comes from seeing all the gifts under the tree…without having to source, buy, and wrap them.

In short – there is a particular magic that comes from being a child at Christmas!!

So while I love Christmases now (I really do!), I also wistfully remember what Christmas used to smell/taste/look like.

I can’t travel back in time, but the next best thing is a walk down memory lane. So here’s a mishmash of miscellaneous holiday memories from days gone by written in a stream of consciousness…

  • My father was the minister of a small church (well, the congregation was small – and almost everyone had white or grey hair! – but the building was quite large). Every November he would take me on a walk through a remote patch of forest. We’d each carry a giant, black garbage bag. Dad would bring a set of shears, and we’d collect bags full of evergreen bows. Snip, snip, snip, snip. He’d get a handful and I’d open the bag as wide as I could and he’d push his pile to the bottom. I absolutely loved tromping through the woods with him. Everything smelled amazing and I knew the best was yet to come!
  • Dad would set up giant tarps on the stage of the church and make enormous wreaths. These things were HUGE. He would also make a very long swag to hang over the entryway door. He’d work on these tasks over a series of days and the whole church would smell like the forest. It all felt magical.
Cast your gaze on the wood paneling and green carpet. I thought it was the epitome of beautiful decor.
  • Mid-December – on a Saturday evening I think? – we would have a church-decorating event. I was often the only child there, and I loved this. I remember being tasked with running velvet ribbons downstairs to the kitchen, where someone manning an iron would get rid of all the wrinkles in the bows. The atmosphere was jolly and I felt very important as I shuttled items from room to room, racing up and down the stairs with my various holiday decor missions. (Was I a nuisance? Probably. But I think people appreciated my young legs and all the flights of stairs I would happily race up and down.)
  • These decorations formed the perfect backdrop to our annual Christmas concerts. These were a BIG deal. Our next-door neighbour organized the concert and we’d receive our parts in September. We’d practice after church on Sunday mornings for months; there were plays, readings to memorize, and songs to sing. I loved it all.
  • My siblings are all quite a bit older than me, and my sisters both attended university in the US. They would only make it home a few times a year, including a visit over Christmas. They always missed the Christmas concert. Every single year I would spend weeks daydreaming about them arriving home early – without telling anyone – and slipping into the church while I was on stage. I would visualize these scenarios for hours, imagining my delight at seeing them burst through the doors. I’d even go to the church and rehearse my response – leaping from the stage, running down the aisle into their open arms. This never actually happened, but even the memory of that wishful thinking makes me so happy.
  • In addition to the wreaths and garland, my father would also make little greenery bundles to hang under every window in the church. And then, on each window ledge, he’d add a homemade birch branch candle holder. If memory serves me correctly, we only lit these candles on the night of the concert. I remember going down early and helping him light them. This was SO exciting.
  • The concerts were amazing; I loved the big crowds and the electric buzz of so many people talking before the performance. Everyone came dressed in their holiday finery to enjoy several hours of the most delightful skits/readings/songs. And I got to be at the centre of it all! It was a time I relished my position as the minister’s child!
  • At the end of the night, by the exit of the church, we would have a giant box filled with treat bags. I remember going to the grocery store with my father and picking out huge boxes of candy and other goodies. We’d cover our entire dining room table with little paper bags. Systematically we’d drop shell-on peanuts, hard candy, mini candy canes, chocolates, red and green gummies, and other edible treats into the bags. Once all the bags were loaded, we’d fold over the tops and staple them shut. I vividly remember the year my Dad let me do the entire process myself. I had never felt so important. Another perk of being the minister’s child? If there were any extra bags left over, we got to bring them home after the Christmas concert. I remember being selective about what I ate out of those extra bags; at the end of a few days, all the chocolates and gummies would be gone, and all the peanuts and candy canes would be left.
  • While my sisters never arrived home when I was belting out a tune at the Christmas concert, their eventual arrival was nothing short of magical. They would often get home late at night (or in the middle of the night). It’s hard to imagine an era without cell phones, but in those days we had only a rough idea of when they would arrive on our doorstep. Seeing their car pull into the driveway was one of the best feelings of every year. I remember one night they hadn’t arrived by my bedtime and Mom let me sleep on the floor in front of the fireplace to wait/sleep. How exciting! Another year they arrived home when we were watching figure skating on TV. One of my sisters loved figure skating and we exchanged the briefest of pleasantries before we all settled back into the living room to watch the sporting event. I remember being in awe of the fact that we were all suddenly together again, happily watching people careen around on the ice and launching into triple axles. I hated to see them go (oh the tears!), but it was almost worth it for the sheer joy of having them come home for the holidays.
  • We never had much money growing up. My siblings bore the brunt of this; by the time I arrived, my parents had a bit more financial flexibility and had also moved to a new church which provided them with a much larger/newer bungalow compared to the very cramped trailer they had lived in for years. I can say with absolute certainty my joy over Christmas as a child had nothing to do with the gifts. And, also, the fact we didn’t have much money made what we did receive SO exciting.
  • Before I was born, and when money was especially tight, a member of the church they were leading gifted my parents with a coupon for a free pizza. My parents used it that year on Christmas Eve, and from then on a tradition of pizza (always homemade after that first year) on Christmas Eve was born.
  • In addition to pizza, we would also have Diet Coke, and we’d light candles and dim the lights. And every single year my father would complain about how he “couldn’t see his food” and every single year we’d nudge the dimmer switch slightly higher to assuage his complaints. Oh, how I loved eating by candlelight. And drinking pop with supper?! Could life get any better?
  • One year I received a doll. I called her Christmas. I’m so creative.
  • Another year I asked for an alarm clock. That was literally my only gift request. My Mom was a nurse (she only worked one shift a week – to keep her registration up – until I was a tween) and used to take me to visit people at the nursing home where she worked. One of the doctors asked what I wanted for Christmas and I told him an alarm clock. I might have been 7? Apparently, when I left, he turned to my mother and said: You had better get that girl an alarm clock. (As in: can you believe all a 7-year-old wants for Christmas is an alarm clock!?) My Dad in his true “cheap frugal” style got his brother to buy one from a pawn shop. It was a travel clock and did not have back-lighting. To see the time at night you had to find a little button that would shine a feeble light on to the black numbers. That cumbersome lighting system failed very quickly. So while they did get me an alarm clock, it was literally the most useless one EVER!
  • One year I asked for skate guards. I remember being so excited because they were wrapped as-is, so there was no mistaking them under the tree.
  • To compensate for the lack of funds, my mother always made sure we had A LOT of things wrapped up in our stockings. Each year we would all receive a bar of soap, a toothbrush, and a tube of toothpaste (so x6 of each item). At the end of Christmas morning, we’d each have a stack of the exact same bar of soap, the exact same toothbrush, and the exact same tube of toothpaste. And we’d all cart our individual stack to the bathroom and take turns putting the items back into the toiletries stash under the sink. Looking back, I really appreciate how my Mom did this simple thing. Even at the time, the ridiculousness of it all made us laugh. But it was fun to see a bulging stocking, even if many of the items were everyday things pulled from under the bathroom sink.
  • One year we didn’t have much money and I remember my parents warning me in advance that I likely knew everything I was going to get. I remember being disappointed – but not saying anything – that I was now old enough to be aware of finances and that there wasn’t going to be anything novel or exciting. And then I unwrapped a bottle of Shower to Shower. I had never used a product like this (and never did end up using that bottle, either), but I remember being deeply touched they had sourced ONE item I didn’t expect to receive…
  • I had a wealthy aunt and uncle; their presents were the most exciting of all. My aunt would send an ENORMOUS package. It arrived as a giant box, wrapped in brown paper and covered in stickers. Inside that box, would be individual gifts for everyone, each one wrapped in lux paper with perfectly crisp corners. My aunt even used double-sided tape. One year I got cooking supplies: a monogrammed apron, a cookbook, mini-bundt pans; another year a “fashionable” Gap sweatshirt (so exciting!); another year my Silk n’ Satin robe that I still use daily…20 years later.
  • We never went to cut down a Christmas tree; one of my mother’s cousins owned a tree farm and for our Christmas gift each year they would show up with a free tree.
  • Our tree went into a corner of our living room which required us to move the piano. I found this thrilling. Something about having to move furniture made it feel so out-of-the-ordinary and exciting. I’m sure my parents saw it as another to-do on their holiday list; it’s funny what little nuances delight a child’s heart at Christmas. And moving the piano was high on my list of delights.
On the shoulders of my future brother-in-law, decorating the tree. That silver tinsel is such a throwback! And you can sneak a peek of the star tree topper…
  • My Dad had nothing to do with Christmas decorations at home aside from the tree topper. He had a metal star from his childhood Christmases; the wiring was questionable and it always looked hideous (growing up it had a red light, so it looked a bit like a creepy Rudolph up on top of the tree). But he would say: This is the only thing I ask for at Christmas. And it was true, so we couldn’t argue. Every year we used his star. And he would also say: Someday, when I’m gone, you’ll fight over who gets this star. I’m not sure about that…but I do have a deep nostalgia for that star now, though I thought it was hideous as a kid.
  • We decorated in mid-December. I remember the agonizing wait until Mom gave the all-clear to get the giant Christmas boxes from the far shelf in the downstairs furnace room. When the decorations did come out, EVERYTHING was transformed. It makes my skin crawl slightly as a minimalistic adult, but I loved it as a kid. There was a glass snowman we would fill with cotton batting. There were stained glass Christmas shapes (I remember a wreath and a candy cane, but there were more) that would go on the windows with suction cups. There was a giant glass bell we would fill with old and/or broken glass ornaments. Fancy towels for the bathroom. I’d string tinsel and lights over my bedframe. Christmas music was constantly playing on the cassette player. The house smelled amazing. It was magic.
  • One year (I was probably 10? 11?) I came home from a friend’s house in a grumpy mood. I can’t remember all the particulars, but I remember Mom trying to convince me to decorate the tree and I refused. I remember sitting in a giant floral swivel chair we had in the living room and turning my back toward the tree. I didn’t think they would decorate without me. But they did!!! As I sat stubbornly staring at the wall, my mother decided two could play at that game. So I listened to her cheerful chat with my older brother as they decorated together and I silently stewed in the corner. I didn’t get to decorate the tree that year…
  • As part of our church outreach at Christmas, we would pool resources as a congregation and make large Christmas hampers for seniors. I loved putting these together. People would send in baked goods, fruit, chocolate, nuts. We’d buy large cardboard boxes and fill them with all sorts of treats, and then wrap them up in crinkly red cellophane, complete with a bow and a handwritten card. Helping deliver those boxes was wonderful; we’d often sing Christmas songs, especially if the people weren’t able to leave their homes due to mobility issues. One year we were singing in the downstairs entry of a home, when a house-bound gentleman heard me from his upstairs room. He figured out a child was present and specifically sent his care worker down the stairs with a loonie ($1 Canadian coin) for me. So exciting!!
  • I also remember my mother making maraschino cherry balls for those Christmas hampers. Yech.

That feels like more than enough random Christmas memories for one day. It was a lot of fun to think back on tiny details from Christmases of my childhood; they truly were a magical time.

Your turn. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory from childhood? Do you ever find it bittersweet to think back on the – hopefully! – carefree and magical experiences of Christmas as a youth? Or do you prefer holidays as an adult with all the extra layers of decision-making power?

This (American) Thanksgiving: Recent Awesome Things

Does anyone else remember the hype surrounding Neil Pasricha’s string of bestsellers that started with The Book of Awesome?

If you’re not familiar, Pasricha writes about everyday things that, when you stop to think, are really awesome, like: finding cash in an old coat pocket, when cashiers open up new checkout lanes at the grocery store, popping bubble wrap, managing to move clothes from the washer to the dryer without dropping anything (harder than you think!), and when you get the milk-to-cereal ratio just right. Not only are these all awesome experiences he wrote about in his first book – each and every one of them has happened to me in the last month. To be fair, I specifically planted a $20 bill in my winter coat last spring…but when I went to put it on for the first time this fall, I couldn’t remember if I had left money hidden in one of the lesser-used pockets. I had – and pulling out a crisp $20 (along with a few BandAids and an unused Kleenex stash) felt awesome!

In honour of American Thanksgiving, I thought I’d list some things that have happened to me in the last few months that I would categorize as That Was Awesome moments. Because labeling something as a That Was Awesome moment requires us to pay attention, change our perspective, and choose to appreciate the little things in life. Basically, it’s gratitude gussied up in party clothes.

recent awesome moments

  • Having a table open up at my favourite cafe the moment I walked in the door. This was awesome. Waiting sucks – and, at the cafe I frequent, people tend to stay for the long haul, so a full house can stay full for a loooonnnnggg time. It felt doubly satisfying because my heart sank when I walked into the cafe with not a single open seat and then – suddenly and fortuitously – I had a space to call my own.
  • Being able to pull through a parking space. Any day is instantly better if I don’t have to back up in a crowded parking lot. This happened the same day a free table opened up in that crowded cafe. It was basically just one big Awesome Fest.
  • Getting the very last one of an item I need at the store. We managed to nab the last two PAX wardrobe kits in stock at our local IKEA. We needed two, they had exactly two left. Awesome. I also remember a Christmas several years ago when another few minutes and our cheesecake would likely have been missing the cream cheese (so it would have just been a cake, I suppose?), but I managed to nab the last few packages on the shelf. What a thrill! There was a rush of adrenaline from how close I came to catastrophe (because no Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake at Christmas would be catastrophic for my taste buds) + a rush of gratitude for sourcing the required item.
  • Going to bed tired – content, not utterly exhausted – and falling asleep immediately. This feels awesome every single time it happens. No tossing and turning. Just blissful, immediate sleep.
  • When something I didn’t want to do (but felt obliged to say yes to) gets canceled. I recently had a meeting scheduled for first thing in the morning and I was dreading the prep and pressure – then, the other person canceled. How awesome!
  • When a package arrives early. I ordered photocards and custom calendars and they were set to arrive today; instead, they arrived over a week ago! Awesome.
  • Measuring correctly. Too often I get something home and it doesn’t fit. When we built and installed those IKEA PAX wardrobes in our new entryway, we had taken all sorts of measurements and, on paper at least, it was “supposed” to fit. But when we were in the middle of building it, I wasn’t feeling very confident. It was a tight squeeze, but it fits perfectly. Awesome.
  • When I’m hungry and open the fridge and there is something I want to eat ready and available – no prep required. Leftover casserole. Mini Naan bread dippers and hummus. COLD sparkling water. All awesome.
  • Discovering an item is cheaper than advertised. This happened to me earlier in the week. I needed to replace/update a lightbulb in our 1970’s kitchen – a small, old-school fluorescent tube. On the shelf, the bulb was listed as $16.99. A steep price tag for a single bulb, but it said it would last for 5,000 hours and we haven’t been able to use this particular under-cabinet lighting for over a year (#DemeritAlert). At the cash register, it rang in as $8.99. Awesome.
Practically levitating out of the store after discovering my lightbulb was much cheaper than I expected (also known as: You Know You’re An Adult When…some aspect of buying a new lightbulb is a highlight in your day).
  • Finding a BandAid at the moment one is needed. Last week when we were away from home, a child needed a BandAid for a bad hangnail. Voilà – I found one (the very last one, mind you) in a side pocket of my purse. A week or two earlier someone needed a BandAid for some other finger malady and I found one in my coat (again, it was the last one; so double Awesome points for that).

Note to self: it’s time to restock my on-the-go supply of BandAids everywhere – purse, car, coats!

Your turn. Have you had any That Was Awesome moments lately? If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, what are three things you’re most thankful for in 2022? Of the awesome moments I describe above, which is your favourite and/or which one has happened to you recently? Did it feel awesome at the time, or only in retrospect?

Header photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

It’s A Lovely Idea, But I Don’t Even Own A Coffee Table

A few months ago I read Catherine Newman’s house tour on Cup of Jo. It is a popular article for good reason – the story and pictures are inspiring.

The featured home looks welcoming without a hint of pretension. This is a space that clearly brings the homeowners great joy. A couch in the kitchen! A whole wall full of pictures of pears! A dining room complete with floor-to-ceiling shelves for board games! Vibrant pops of colour on the walls! Piles of laundry on the chair that practically scream: real people live here!

It’s a tour that leaves the reader (well, this reader at least) wanting to break through the screen and sit down in the cozy kitchen to share a cup of tea (while sitting on that kitchen couch, perhaps?).

But I have to admit, by the end of the article, I was feeling…bad? Maybe that’s not the right emotion, but I couldn’t/can’t put my finger on it exactly. In reflecting on my gut reaction – articulated or not – I can isolate a few specifics that made me think long and hard.

First, when Newman talks about her couch she says: We have a houseful of teenagers all the time, and kids will spill stuff and say, ‘…I’m so sorry!’ But we truly don’t care, and I’m very happy about that. 

It made me feel overly rigid because I do care (moderately, at least) if people spill things on my couch. I mean – it’s fine. I’ll deal with the mess, I’m sure it was an accident…but I’d really rather someone didn’t spill things on my couch.

But the thing that hit me the hardest, oddly enough, was her coffee table. Here’s the description:

When the kids were tiny, we covered the coffee table with white paper. It was fun for them to draw on the table, and their friends would come over and draw, too. It became a 20-year habit. Now, at Thanksgiving, someone will doodle a perfect thing or a portrait, and I’m like, okay, I’m cutting that out and keeping it! We score games on it, I take notes during phone calls, I figure out recipes on it. 

That felt so fun and whimsical and I swear when I read that line I decided then and there my children’s lives are ruined because WE DON’T HAVE A COFFEE TABLE COVERED IN PAPER for them to doodle on.

But guess what.

We don’t even own a coffee table.

And do you know why? Because when we bought our house one of the primary features we loved was the open loop that tracks around the upstairs. We have one long hallway that all the bedrooms open up into which feeds into our living room/dining room which feeds into the kitchen and then back to the hallway.

We debated getting a coffee table but opted to prioritize leaving that space open so the kids could – literally – run circles around us.

In fact, just a few days after we moved in, a friend suggested a different configuration for our couch (which would have been cozier, admittedly)…but we didn’t even entertain the idea because it would have prevented the kids from running around “The Loop”.

We’ve played countless games of chase (this is how Levi split open his chin) and hide-and-seek tag; the kids have cartwheeled through the living room and regularly sprawl out on the open floor to play charades or chess and leave messes of an assortment of doodads and doohickies.

So we don’t have a coffee table…but the kids do occasionally doodle on the kitchen whiteboard and little pads of paper that end up everywhere (though, obviously, not on top of a coffee table).

We also don’t have a couch where I encourage people to hop around with drinks in their hand, but we bought a less comfortable couch for our family room specifically because the colour and material would minimize the appearance of stains. (This one was a bitter pill to swallow; there was an incredible clear-out sale on a very nice couch, but it had light fabric and so we opted to pay more – yes that hurt! – for a less comfortable, less visually appealing, very utilitarian option but I distinctly remember saying to John: The kids HAVE to be able to play and live life on this couch! And it truly doesn’t show a single stain despite a variety of sources – including Dorito-covered fingerprints from movie nights and, sadly, one case of vomit several years ago).

When I read the article, I wanted to be “that Mom”- the one with the doodling paper over her coffee table for two decades. But I’m not. I’m me. A lady without a coffee table.

Your turn. Did you read Catherine Newman’s house tour? If so, what was your favourite feature? Mine was definitely the coffee table art, even if it did leave me feeling temporarily conflicted! If you tend toward the Type-A/planner/Upholder personality, do you ever feel guilty or unsettled when you see someone who can embrace a different level of spontaneity and devil-may-care attitude?

Header photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It’s Time For NaBloPoMo!

Okay, where did October go? I know I say this every month but the days of October flew by. Which means it’s November…and so begins NaBloPoMo.

What’s NaBloPoMo, you ask? It stands for National Blog Posting Month. This blogging initiative stemmed from the popular NaNoWriMo movement (National Novel Writing Month) where people commit to a daily word count and, by the end of November, have a completed novel – albeit, I suspect, a bit rough around the edges.

Since I have no aspirations to be a novelist, I’ll happily stick with NaBloPoMo and will be aiming to post something every day. Full credit to blogger San who does a fantastic job of organizing this effort. She will have an updated list of participants on her NaBloPoMo page!

Originally, I thought of coming up with a posting schedule – my regular mishmash during the week and quotes/poetry on the weekends, perhaps? But then I thought – forget plans and let’s just see what comes.

I hope you’ll join me here every day in November!

Also, today is Halloween!!! More details to come on how our 2022 festivities pan out, but I want to bask one last time in the glow of our efforts from last year.

I don’t think we’ll ever be able to top this costume. Boxed Mac n’ Cheese by Kraft – known affectionately as KD, which stands for Kraft Dinner – has a cult following in Canada and our kids are huge fans. Who am I kidding? I love it too…
Our somewhat tattered, but nevertheless adorable, pumpkin snowman who did his best to brighten up the gloom of our in-progress exterior renovations last year!
Macaroni and her Superman sidekick…

Your turn. Will you be participating in NaBloPoMo? Do you have any fun plans for Halloween tonight? What was your favourite/most memorable costume from childhood?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Celebrating Little Victories

About a month ago I enjoyed two different small – but exciting – “victories”. On both occasions I was out of the house when I received the news and both times I immediately (and gleefully) texted John who responded enthusiastically and joined me in celebration. One reply included a “Woot woot!!” with double exclamation marks.

I could have easily acknowledged these little tidbits and moved on with my day. My “successes” were almost embarrassingly insignificant, but I was excited, so why not amplify my joy in the moment by sharing the news, while also framing it as a cause for celebration?

I have no problem exaggerating the weight of negative things in life, so why not disproportionately celebrate the good, too?

So three cheers for the little things – because victories come in all shapes and sizes.

Your turn. Do you make a point of celebrating little victories? Does any specific event come to mind?

Header photo by Brenna Huff on Unsplash