December 2021 Round-Up: Christmas Joy

December, everything else went on hold, and Christmas happened. And man, we Christmassed this month for all it was worth!

Dog

We have settled into a nice routine for the dog. He gets up at 6:30 and goes on a short walk, then some time during the day he goes on a longer walk. If it’s warm enough for Dooner to be outside, it’s a working walk.

I’m pleased to report that doggo is pretty much house trained. We don’t let him off leash much, what with the Christmas tree and the new toys and such. But when we do, he whines to go outside when he has to do his business! I honestly didn’t believe it would actually happen, but it has.

He’s my cuddle monkey. When we get back from our morning walk, I sit on the floor on our favorite tartan blanket, and we snuggle until 7 am when Dooner wakes up. Between getting me to exercise and giving me love, Sisko is earning his keep.

Christmas Kid Crafts

My kids, as it turns out, love making stuff. Shocker! This December, I was very intentional about making time and space for that. And my goodness, we had a blast. Early in the month, we made gingerbread houses:

I rocked it out making up gingerbread house blueprints on the fly, and doubled down on the aquafaba royal icing recipe I love so much.

The last week of school for the kids was pretty much all parties. Thursday the 16th was “ugly sweater day,” with instructions to “get creative at home.” Felt, white glue, and good scissors were all we needed. That day turned out to be a near-blizzard, so I kept the kids home at my discretion, but the kids still got “spirit points” for their classes when I posted this pic on Facebook.

Those faces.

We did two rounds of cutout sugar cookies. The first was a sort of test batch, which we decorated with storebought icing tubes and gobbled up at a pageant rehearsal. For the second, I doubled down, and we had about 200 cookies to decorate. I made five colors of royal icing using the gel colors I picked up on sale over the summer, we invited a bunch of friends over, and went to town!

Oh my goodness, that was a blast. The icing was the right consistency, the disposable icing bags (sorry mother earth) were perfect for little hands, and my friend Francine came with her own inspiration. Here are some of mine: it felt so grand to have the kids old enough to do their own thing, and have enough cookies to let us all do whatever we want.

The poinsettia was my favorite!

I packaged them all into little sets of 8, and MiniMighty delivered them all to our neighbors. I love watching her magnanimous spirit shine through; she loves making people happy!

Mom’s Crafts

I got in some making time too, all definitely Christmas themed. The first thing I did, of course, was finish our beautiful tree skirt, which looks fabulous under our fluffy live tree.

It’s decorated with a healthy sprinkling of pine needles most of the time, but the smooth cotton is easy to sweep off with a broom. I enjoyed learning foundation piecing, and strip-set work is pretty darn satisfying.

The rest of my sewing this month turned out to be sadly pointless. I had so much fun with the tree skirt that I started on a massive set of masks – 20 adult-sized and 6 kid-sized. Several were from leftovers from the tree skirt backing, definitely Christmas-themed. Now that we are in lockdown, and the Omicron COVID variant supposedly renders cloth masks pointless, they are bagged up and put away. I’ll finish them sometime.

I also did a lot of sewing for our Christmas pageant, which was canceled the day before it was supposed to occur. I worked hard enough on them that they are well-made and will be usable another year. But it was still a major bummer. At least the kids got to inhabit the story in rehearsals, and had lots of fun dressing up. They really did a fantastic job learning their parts.

And of course, the Knitivity. You won’t complain if I post this picture again, will you? Of course not.

These became the substitute stars of our livestream Christmas play, performed on our kitchen table.

Christmas Eventing

“Eventing” makes it sound like an Olympic sport, and that’s what it felt like. The parties started with a private party we were invited to on the 18th.

The kids got to see Santa again on the 22nd at the Toy Drive, an event put together by a few intrepid community members who fundraised, coordinated, and executed this enormous project that saw every kid that came get a gift from Santa. I don’t know the final number that came, but it was in the hundreds. Man, Rankin peeps are cool.

Francine goaded us on until we finally got on the ice, too. Dooner started really skating for the first time, thanks to the appearance of a single skating frame. She tried to tell the zamboni, “I’m just gonna finish!” On the 23rd, they turned on the music and the disco lights to have a Christmas skating party.

That was the day I discovered that falling at age 35 feels like falling from 35 feet. Ouch. I miss my toepicks. I miss being 14.

Then, lockdown happened. Cases of COVID started popping up all over Nunavut, and the health department decided to prohibit all public gatherings, all visiting, and even outdoor visiting over five people. So we processed, we pivoted, we gave thanks, and we hunkered down to the serious business of celebrating.

We laid our traditional finger-food Christmas Eve feast. We got Christmas crackers for the first time (thanks, Co-op, for having them 75% off!) With some difficulty, we got the kids to bed, and I finished one last Christmas present.

Dooner had been saying for weeks that Santa was going to bring her an elf costume. When fabric was 20% off (again, thanks co-op!) I bought half a meter of nice fleece, dug out some felt, made up a pattern, and went to town. Having misplaced my hot glue gun, I had to sew all the felt details on by hand. Thankfully I was done before midnight.

Santa made it through the chimney, evaded the boiler, drank the egg nog and ate the cookie (a gingerbread heart with peanut M&Ms on top), and left all manner of goodies.

Dooner was not sure what to think of her elf costume at first. I think she was disappointed that it didn’t look like the elf costume in her favorite Christmas book, “The Littlest Reindeer.” But eventually she tried it on, and it didn’t come off again until nearly bedtime!

Stringbean looks so pleased because she was in on the secret of the outfit’s making. Such a sweetheart.

We had a quiet, fun Christmas. I led our third livestream service in 24 hours, the kids enjoyed their presents, I tidied and organized the playroom enough to fit new toys in, we played a new board game, and had a simple-but-satisfying instant pot dinner.

Dooner was completely wiped out by 7 pm. She fell asleep cuddled up to me while I played “Space Run” on our big PC. What a day.

It turned out she was coming down with something. Now we are all a little under the weather, with sore throats and such. We’re spending the last week of 2021 hibernating, eating candy and leftovers.

I kept being shocked all month with how much fun it all was. For the first year, all of this making and planning really didn’t feel stressful for the most part. I don’t know if it was perspective, or experience – I’ve made a few gingerbread houses by now, after all – or just the magic of being 35. Maybe it was all the extra healthy choices I’ve been making for the last couple of months (another story), or a new friend to be a partner and encourager in adventures. It all helped, as did the Lord’s mercy.

Well, now I’ve gotta go play, because the kids are turning my bed into an imaginary beehive. See you tomorrow for some reflections on the whole year!


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