cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

I am working a half-day today while Steve enjoys a little alone time at home with Caroline. She was in good spirits when I left and I hope that continues until I can make my way home around noontime. It is raining and icy down here. I suspect the seniors will stay home if possible as today’s weather represents their own brand of kryptonite; the possibility of ice and RAIN.

Steve helped me out by handling the school pick-up yesterday. This permitted a grand tour de last minute shopping at the liquor store, CVS, and Big Y. Two bottles of red, two prescriptions, and two jars of jelly later, I headed home to a very worn out Daddy and a temperamental toddler. In between excited squeals declaring it a Christmas Miracle that I was able to find both the red pepper jelly AND the pineapple preserves, Caroline was on her worst behavior; swatting hands away, whining, shouting "NO!" when offered any distraction. She was tired and hungry and I can imagine that the day before the holiday break at school involved many treats and a whole lot of fun & excitement. It should! This is the most magical time of the year for little ones and I can certainly cope with a little 'tude if need be. It sort of comes with the territory doesn’t it? Steve was worn out too and ready to throw in the towel when I walked in the door. I asked Caro if she needed a break in her crib, "YES!" and she spent about 5 minutes solo in her room calming down before returning to pouring macaroni from one measuring cup to another. Turns out the kid was starving.

Steve asked me how often I put her into her crib. I was unsure if he was questioning how often I do it or implying that putting her in her crib is not a good solution to her behavior. Honestly, the answer is not very often. For me, this is the solution of last resort. I find that when she gets worked up and cops the constant whiny nothing is good enough attitude that she is really frustrated and just needs some time to calm herself in a confined safe location. The crib works. In the future I expect I will send her to her room, isn't it the same thing?

So the McFam is officially organized for the holiday. Last night I ironed the linens and folded the napkins. I made a list of all the things we can do ahead and I have a willing partner in Steve to help me this afternoon with a lot of the prep. So what is going to be on the McFam’s Holiday Table?

Mini hot dogs (Steve's most favorite, Caroline exclaimed "HOT DOGS" at the store)
Ina’s Pan Friend Onion Dip (my own personal favorite)
Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp (yum, yum, yum!)
Fire and Spice Ham (this is where those jellies come in)
Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (Kiki dee’s specialty)
Garlic Butter Mashed Potatoes (a spin on my hubby’s favorite)
Stewed Cinnamon Apples (ham and apples – yes, please!)
Sweet Potato Bisquits (Auntie K’s from Thanksgiving located in Wondertime Magazine)
Delicious mini pastries from the great white north (it might not really be Canada, but my father the French Canadian reports that it looks an awful lot like it with nearly two feet of snow on the ground!)

What will we be watching? Alternating The Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation of course – both on repeat throughout the day just because we can.

I’ve shared here that each night before bed after the books have been read we talk about Caroline’s day. She snuggles into me and tells me who she saw that day (Nickle!, Sara! Santa!) and sometimes what she did (Cookie!, Ariel!). Mostly I go through her day with her and remind her about the plans for the next day (school or home, who we will see, what we will do). Last night I snuggled her in close and explained that tomorrow (today) is Christmas Eve. “It’s the night that Santa travels across the whole world and brings special gifts to all the good girls and boys. So we’ll put out some cookies and milk (or maybe a beer) for Santa and some carrots for Rudolph and the reindeer before we go to bed. Won’t that be exciting?!?” It’s easy to get caught up in Santa and forget about the real meaning of Christmas, especially when there is an almost two-year-old in your house who barely understands Santa beyond recognizing him on lawns, in stores, and on TV. So this afternoon we are also attending Christmas mass. We missed the presentation of the Nativity which happened while we were gone last weekend, which would have been the best way to explain Christmas of all.

I am sad to admit that Caroline has been to church just once since her baptism. I took her myself and it was challenging and then it was summer and we were gone every weekend and then it was fall and it felt like we were gone every weekend and now that it is winter and while we have had a couple weekends home it just isn’t a part of our routine. Sigh. It is important to me to nurture Caroline's spirituality, to enable her to experience faith and religion. I am hopeful that when seen not as an obligation, but as an exploration that over the next decade she and I can "try on" some different beliefs and perhaps find a niche for ourselves. I have some ideas, but for right now and today we'll be keeping with the status quo and attending a Catholic service. I am sure it will be a memorable experience for us all. Here's hoping that the 4:00 mass is kid-friendly and also that Caroline will enjoy a bit of the real reason we celebrate and give gifts to the people we love.

Wishing everyone a safe and very happy Christmas.

(Photo courtesy of Auntie k)


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