Thursday Thirteen, the Christmas Special
13 Things that let you know it's Christmas at the Casa de T
1. The T's take a tour of Christmas lights around town. They pack up hot chocolate and cookies, load some Christmas cds into the player in the van and away they go. About 10 minutes into it, the girls begin to bicker and must be separated with threats of "we'll turn around and just go home". We never do and they beg to do this every year. Last year a grumpy old man was channeling through Mr. T and made him say things like "How'd you like to pay the electric bill at that house?".
2. There is eggnog in the fridge. Plain, mixed with milk to take the edge off the extreme thickness, mixed with whiskey, used as coffee creamer. We likey.
3. There is cat barf on the floor, laced with needles from the Christmas tree. Alas, our boy is not too bright and has been snacking on the Christmas tree for each of the 11 years we've had him.
4. The nativity is set out and sometimes can be found with various other "guests" (Polly Pockets, Santa, Barbie...) Reminds me of the Mr. Bean Christmas special where he throws all the toy farm animals at the creche.
5. There are multiple viewings of "A Christmas Story", and at least one of "White Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life".
6. The Mirro cookie press is fished out of the cupboard above the fridge for the annual baking of the spritz cookies. You MUST use real butter and you MUST use almond extract, not vanilla, and double it at that. Dying the batter a garish green to make tiny Christmas trees is optional. Burning the first sheet is mandatory.
7. Christmas Eve mass is attended - although no more midnight mass. We abandoned that once we had kids. In a few years we hope to pick it up again. Now we go to an earlier service and this year Claire is in the children's choir and will be singing at the 6:00 mass.
8. The tree is bedecked in every imaginable type of ornament. Some are gifts, some are relics, some are projects, some are crap-tacular. All are treasured. There is a particular area of the tree that is heaviest with ornaments. It's right at the girls' reach. I exercise every ounce of self control I have and allow them to decorate as they like and hardly rearrange them at all once the girls have gone to bed or lost interest entirely. This year we had the idyllic backdrop of the first snowfall, Christmas music, fire in the fireplace as we decorated.
9. The stockings get hung by the chimney with care and are filled with an orange in the toe, mixed nuts in the shell, candy, loose change and other trinkets. Santa always brings a new "fancy" toothbrush and paste. He wraps the larger gifts and sets them by the fireplace, near the stockings.
10. Christmas breakfast is served before the opening of presents, with the exception of Santa's stuff. Last year we had a creme-brulee French toast bake (Yu-um), bacon, scrambled eggs, stollen, and sliced citrus fruits. There's been a request to have the same this year.
11. An attempt to keep in touch with old friends is made in the form of the Christmas letter. Don't laugh- it's either that or not at all, and in spite of what all the haters say, I actually enjoy reading the ones I get- even the ones written by the family dog, or come dangerously close to bragging. Each card and picture received is displayed and then saved for all eternity.
12. The girls receive at least one gift where they each get the exact same thing so they have something to play together over the break. One year it was a little pony play set, one year it was felt friends. This year it's a Polly Pocket townhouse.
13. One, small package is opened on Christmas Eve. It is chosen by me, and when they were younger, it was something they could bring along to mass, like a book or a small stuffed animal.