About six months after Hubby and I got married we had our first big disagreement: what do for Christmas.We both had our own traditions with our own families and neither wanted to give them up. It was my dad who suggested a compromise. We would see one family before Christmas, one family after, and do our own thing Christmas Eve and Day.
Then Daddy was diagnosed with cancer–Stage IV. So the compromise went out the window. We spent our first married Christmas with my family celebrating what would turn out to be Daddy’s last Christmas. We also spent the next year, the first Christmas without my dad, with my family. To balance things out, we spent the next two Christmases with Hubby’s family. So this year, our fifth married Christmas, we were evened out, back on track of our compromise and ready to put this plan into action. Spend Christmas together starting our own traditions.
We had great plans. Hubby wanted to build a gingerbread replica of our house on Christmas Eve, then we’d drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies, eat finger foods, open a couple presents, go to the eleven pm church service to ring in Christmas, wake up Christmas morning and open presents, eat breakfast, play, cook lunch, watch Les Mis, and chill that night with leftovers and the Grinch. The day after Christmas, we would hit up Lowe’s early and buy next year’s decorations cheap.
Oh, how naive we were.
Let me break down how this really happened.
We woke up kind of late. Oops.
We didn’t have all the ingredients we needed for gingerbread and lunch, so off to the store.
Finally, around 1 pm, we made it home and started the gingerbread. And by started, I mean we looked at the recipe and realized we’d have to double it to make a replica of our house. I began mixing dough while Hubby went back to the store. Then we realized our replica would mean an 11 inch wide house. 11 inches! Yeah, I put the kibosh on that idea. We scaled back to a more manageable 8×6 sort of replica–okay, it would have a porch. Hubby drew the pattern while I rolled out the dough. We cut each piece, which was way more time consuming than I thought. I made icing while the gingerbread baked. Then finally, finally, we got to the construction part.
Except the pieces didn’t all fit. So Hubby filed them down with a microplane. We put the house together (wrong the first time), decorated, and realized it was already 5:30 and we had grumblies in our tumblies (as my grandfather used to say). Oh, and we forgot that one of our finger foods, lil’ smokies in bbq sauce, was supposed to simmer for two hours. Oh well, at least we’d finished our first ever gingerbread house.
Around 6:30 we sat down to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” while we ate, then realized we’d forgotten the hot chocolate. Oh well again. Two hours later we decided to watch “White Christmas.” Then we remembered we’d forgotten to bake cornbread for the Christmas lunch dressing. We only had an hour before the Christmas Eve service, so I mixed the batter and popped it in the fridge. Bad move. When we got home. the batter was too thick. I glopped it in the iron skillet and baked it. Did I mention it was after midnight? The cornbread looked weird, lumpy and white, but tasted fine, so we decided to roll with it and go to bed.
We woke up and opened our presents from Santa. (You better believe Santa came! What’s Christmas without toys?). We ate some cinnamon rolls then opened our presents to each other. Hubby did FANTASTIC by the way. He surprised me for pretty much the first time ever, with an antique typewriter. I’ve wanted one for years. It’s SO. COOL. The original ribbon still kind of works, well enough for me to type some random sentences.
Then we got to making lunch. Well, I started making lunch. Hubby forgot he’d planned to make egg nog. So he looked up a recipe while I started the dressing.
Except, my dressing recipe didn’t look right. In fact, it looked…oh no. I’d been going off the wrong recipe. No wonder the cornbread didn’t turn out right. I had to make another skillet of cornbread (the right cornbread) while cooking the rest of the dressing items.
Meanwhile, Hubby still worked on his egg nog. I pestered him to start the creme brulee, which had to chill for three hours. He made egg nog. Did I mention I don’t drink egg nog? I also asked when he needed to start the cranberry sauce. Didn’t it need time to set up? “It only takes ten minutes. I’ve got this,” he said.
I finally got the dressing together and in the oven. Hubby finally finished his egg nog and started clearing the table for lunch. Then started the creme brulee. We’d just have dessert after our Les Mis. No biggie.
But he beat the custard too long and it was, well, really foamy. As in, all foam. Oh well, we’d try it anyway. (It was turning into the Christmas of “Oh well”). Out came the dressing and in went the creme brulee.
I started cutting the ham, a pre-cooked Honeybaked Ham that we’d taken out of the freezer the day before. It was still frozen. Hubby started the cranberry sauce, then remembered it only took ten minutes to cook. He’d forgotten it had to chill.
So, by the time we sat down for lunch, the dressing had gotten kind of cold, the ham had to be microwaved twice, and the cranberry sauce was literally steaming. We decided to try it anyway, only to realize Hubby hadn’t added enough sugar. Talk about tart!
All we could do was laugh. We sat there with our hot, tart cranberries and cool dressing and just laughed. Oh well.
We cleaned up lunch and had a great battle with the lightsabers Santa brought Hubby, then with the Bop It game Santa brought me. Atticus roamed around in his Santa suit Hubby had found on sale and tried to eat the toy mice we’d gotten for the cats.
Then we bundled up and trekked to the movies to see Les Mis. The parking lot was pretty full, but we didn’t wor–Holy crap the line was out the door. Did I mention it was raining?
We decided to got to a different theater. I bought tickets online, reserved our seats–back row!–and we drove across town, bought our popcorn, found our seats–uh oh. Not the back row. The front row. We couldn’t even see the top of the screen! Frustrated at the theater’s poorly designed seating chart, we tried to swap our tickets for a later show, one that wouldn’t involve cricks in our necks from looking straight up for three hours. Sold out. Hubby got a refund and we decided to go back to the other theater.
On the way, Hubby realized we’d forgotten we were going to make gingerbread cookies for the neighbors. I’d mixed the dough the day before, all we had to do was bake it. So Hubby drove me home and I baked cookies for an hour while he bought the tickets in advance this time. (My first gingerbread cookies. They were delicious, I might add!).
We finally saw Les Mis, got home around 9:30, and settled in with a plate of leftovers and the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The real version, the cartoon, not that crappy one from a few years ago. We’d recorded it while we were at the mov–nope. Some stinking basketball game ran over and cut into the Grinch’s time. We saw five minutes of the Grinch before the recording cut off. At least Hubby’s creme brulee turned out, and it was pretty good!
It stormed something awful last night. The wind howled, our decorations blew across the yard, ribbons and bows came loose. There were tornadoes in some parts of the state. Neither of us slept. This morning, Lowe’s had already put away most of their Christmas decorations, so we didn’t really find anything we wanted for next year.
It wasn’t the Christmas we’d planned, but it was definitely one to remember. Our first Christmas on our own. Next year, we’ll plan better. We now know just how long gingerbread houses take, and that cranberry sauce needs to be cooked in advance. We’ll buy movie tickets ahead of time and probably just buy the Grinch. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but, for me, it was kind of just right.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Hanukkah, or at least a good vacation. For me, the vacation is over. I have a lot of revising left to do and I can’t wait to start writing again!