I'm a terrible procrastinator. Always have been. Advent is a great season for me because I really do focus on preparation. But it seems like no matter how hard I try, some things are always left to the last minute. Let me provide evidence by sharing our traditions from Christmas Eve.
Exhibit A: Christmas Cookies
First thing in the morning we decorated the sugar cookies we had baked the day before. Why first thing, you ask? That doesn't sound like a procrastinator Oh, that's because I had only heard 1,470 variations of this question: "Wheeeeeeeeeen do we get to decorate cookies? When? Is it now? 5 minutes from now?" and so on, ad nauseum. And it was only 9 a.m.! So I gave in and the kids
consumed unholy amounts of sugar and artificial food coloring decorated Christmas cookies first thing in the morning. (And before you give me too much credit for not procrastinating enough, let me say that 9 a.m. is "first thing" by other people's standards. We have normally lived a full day's worth of activities by that time.)
Baking on Sunday night. Please notice: my poor wardrobe color choice for baking, Ali's crazy dress up, and Zeke's upper half far outclassing his lower half. I know. We're practically paragons of virtue and fashion over here.
Exhibit B: Ornaments
We immediately followed cookie decoration by making salt dough ornaments. This is less of a Christmas Eve tradition and more of an: "Oh, CRAP! I forgot to make ornaments with the kids this year!" So I chose something which included flour, paint, AND glitter, and thus earned back some Good Mommy Points after the St. Nicholas Day Shoe Fiasco of 2012.
This is the type of mortification I dealt with yesterday. Please ignore Ezekiel's constant lack of underdrawers. He's potty training.
See? Glitter madness.
Exhibit C: Clam Chowdah(No matter how hard I try I can't say chowder)
Yesterday afternoon I headed over to Camp Walker (the main local military base) to help set up for today's Mass. It took a bit longer than expected, so I ended up getting home just minutes (maybe 5?) before my brother and sister in law were due to arrive for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of clam chowdah (SEE??). Thankfully, Kevin had chopped and prepped (he makes a great sous chef) so all I had to do was throw things in the pot. And wait. And wait. And wait. Potatoes take a loooooong time to cook. Did you know that?
And yes, Corona does taste delicious with clam chowdah. Just ask Gianna. (KIDDING!)
Exhibit D: Stockings
7 years (yes, years) ago, I ambitiously decided to make stockings for Gianna and the other 3 children we had planned on having. (No, we are not "done." But 4 was the magical number all along, so we'll just see where He leads us from here.) I practically had a Procrastinators Conniption over this type of planning. But somehow (ha!), one stocking went unfinished.
Last year Ezekiel was too young for candy and other Santa goodies, so we hung it up in its gloriously unfinished state and went about our usual Christmas business. This year, I absolutely had to finish it. I took it out of the box the first week of Advent, with big plans about spending one night cozily snuggled up on the couch while I lovingly hand stitched the finishing touches.
Last night, at 11:15 pm (seriously pushing the Santa deadline) I heaved a heavy sigh, took the stocking to the couch and finished it up. I think I missed Santa's arrival by 3 minutes.
From beginning to end, our beautiful Christmas Eve traditions were plagued by my procrastinatin' nature. However, I hope I've proven to you that 1) procrastinators can still have fun, 2) my kids are adorable, and 3) potatoes take a long time to cook. That last bit is really important. Trust me.
That's it for my Christmas Eve traditions. If you want read more about our holiday, continue reading below. If you'd like to see how other families create memories on Christmas Eve, head over to Cari's blog for the Christmas Eve Traditions link up.
On to Christmas morning...
Kevin and I stayed up waaaaaay too late last night. When that happens I sleep really deeply. Not the good, refreshing kind of sleep, but the "an earthquake wouldn't wake me" sleep. Apparently this morning at 4:45 a.m. (early even by our standards) the girls came into our room and asked if they could look at their gifts. And in my sleep I said yes. 10 minutes later they came running into our room yelling, "We got a trampoline!!!!!" I woke up for real and proceeded to shout about how they were never supposed to look at presents without us and what about our Christmas morning traditions and that they had better head directly back to bed until 6:30. And then I immediately fell back to sleep.
A few minutes later, Kevin gasped, "Where's Gabe?" (He sleeps in our room.) He ran to the living room to find Gabriel surrounded by stockings and several unwrapped toys. He sent Gabe into the girls' room and we tried to regroup. At this point everyone was awake and three out of our four children were in tears. Kevin and I were sorely disappointed that we didn't get to watch the kids discover their Santa gifts (they come unwrapped) and we talked with each other about consequences and other ways to "teach the kids a lesson."
Thankfully, the grace of Christmas morning soon prevailed and we had a family heart-to-heart. Lots of hugs and gentle discussion followed. After our traditional lighting of the Christmas candle and reading of the story of Christ's birth, we were able to have a wonderful and peaceful morning.
We feel so blessed as a family, both by the material gifts bestowed upon us and by the family connections we strengthened via Skype and a family dinner. Thanks to all our family and friends, wherever you are in the world. We love you!