Christmas is catching me decidedly off-guard this year. Between hospitalizations, eye emergencies, belated Thanksgivings, Birthdays, and bacterial infections requiring daily IM injections (D), I just haven't been able to think about it and it is upon me and meh.
I haven't been able to shop much because for the last two weeks I've been heavily working on potty training Naim. I'd write the requisite post about it but I just...can't. Its not that it isn't going so well...there has been marked improvement...but it is a long road and very tiring. He is 100% potty-trained if I leave him in the house naked. He goes on his own, I don't even have to remind him. Put underpants on him and he drops to 75%. With pants as well it drops to 50%. Take him out of the house and it drops to 0% (except at Dad's house where we have a potty chair.) He is deathly afraid of the toilet. Its not the flushing, he likes to flush. It is the sitting on it that freaks him out. I've tried stools, little potty seats, he is freaked by it. Not sure how to jump that hurdle. (Ironically, Aaron has no problem sitting on the toilet but refuses to go.) He understands accidents now and doesn't like having them, so if we are out and he has to go, a crisis erupts. It makes it hard to go out. I've even resorted to pull-ups when we are out. The saddest thing about all this? When I figure this out and am done with him? I have a whole 'nother kid to do. Depressing.
So, I've done almost zilch Christmas Shopping. Not that I really wanted to get much stuff for them. I'm up to my neck in toys in a very small house. They don't need anything. I decided to get them one gift, a big gift that I know they are going to be ecstatic over. It is a trundle train set that can slide under their bed.
Other than that and a few small stocking stuffers, I wasn't going to get them anything else. I know that D got them some model space shuttles (they are space shuttle/rocket NUTS right now) and I think some kind of little dinosaur playset. (Cute as hell to see kids this age talking about Tri-SAR-it-TOPS and ty-RONNA-saurus RECK-s). So thought that was done, but then we have just received a very generous slew of donations in the past couple of weeks. Its a bit weird, we didn't ever ask for anything and these aren't given to us like presents, but people have been dropping by with small used toys and puzzles. So now I think they also are getting a few puzzles, a few books, and a couple of games (well, those I actually got off freecycle).
And then, the worst (yet very generous) toy came. It is big, it is plastic, the kids will LOVE it, and worst of all, it isn't assembled.
When I opened the box I was confronted with sheet after sheet of plastic shit that needs to be snapped apart and put together with screws. I can't even understand the directions and the parts are all labeled within the molded plastic itself and I can't see them unless I kind of Braille my way through it. I am totally dreading the prospect. I'm thinking of giving it up, but then the person who gave it to us will come over and its not like its a toy you can HIDE easily, so its absence will be noticed. I might let them play with it for a few months and then donate it somewhere. There just really isn't room for it. I'm not sure if this picture is it, but it is like this:
My other problem is D. I have NOTHING for him. Nothing. Whenever I think about it my mind draws a complete blank. I've had no time to shop and when I shop online, he is too hard to shop for. A lot of things I think of getting him need to be checked out for 'accessibility.' Will he be able to push the buttons on that? Will these pants fit over his prosthetic? Will this work on his computer? etc. He is really someone you have to shop for with him there to try things out. Otherwise, I'm going to have to join the Fleece Pullover Club(tm). The FPC(tm) are his family members who give him a fleece pullover for every. single. birthday and Christmas. They actually gave me quite a few as well back when they got me anything. Its not that he is against fleece pullovers, but if you are getting two or three a year, you end up having thousands. We always joked before we went to Christmas stuff, "Well, lets go get our fleece pullovers!" And on the way home, "I'm glad I got another black/gray/navy fleece pullover to add to my extensive black/gray/navy fleece pullover collection." Its not that we are seriously mad about the FPC(tm) its just become a running joke. But it is an easy choice for him. Shirts fit him pretty standard, unlike pants. He's always cold. Just grab an XL fleece thing and be done with it. I'm getting so desperate that I might have to sink to the level of the FPC(tm).
Or maybe I'll just hand him a wad of cash. I dunno. Any ideas?
I pulled out the tree last week, and I'm finding that I really hate doing it. My sister always complained about having a tree and so for years we never had one. At my mom's last Christmas, I insisted that we go out and get a tree. And I remember my dad saying in the Christmas Tree store (we don't do live trees), "We will always remember this as the time we bought your mom her last Christmas Tree." And he was right. I have that tree now, and that is what it always reminds me of. I feel like I can't get rid of it but yet I feel like I don't really want it, either.
Besides, it is too big for our living room, the automatic lights on it don't work anymore after we had a power outage last year. It is a bitch to put together and not that fun to do alone. I have only a few ornaments for it. I'm just kind of meh about it. I don't mind the stockings and a few other Christmas knick knacks. I'm contemplating perhaps just getting a few more decorations like that (wreath, etc.) next year and not having a tree. But D thinks this is sacrilege. "The kids need a tree."
So I'm trying to find a compromise. We have a pretty blue spruce in our backyard. What if we had a solstice tree? We can put outdoor lights on it and decorate it with edibles (bird seed pine cones, cranberry garland, etc.) for the animals? That is what the whole tree tradition started as anyway. It has nothing to do with Christmas. It was to honor the animals struggle through the darkest part of winter as the night shifted away from the darkness into daylight. Or maybe just a small tree indoors. I don't know. But I'm thinking after Christmas I might give this tree away to Freecycle. I still have a mom attachment to it, so I want it to go to a good home. I know, its a bit silly.
But I'm starting to get a little tiny bit psyched. Friday, weather permitting, I'm meeting a friend with a little girl my kid's age and we are going to zoo lights. Its where you ride the zoo train and see the billion lights they have decorated the zoo with. The kids will love that...and I'll be cold. So it is good to have another mom to be cold with.
Christmas eve we will do our church's evening service. We've done it every year and its about the most Christmas-y thing we do. There is no nursery care, so the kids stay with us. They do try to fill it with kid friendly stuff. Lots of music, bells, candles, little Christmas stories and skits. The kids have done well the last two years we've gone, so hopefully it will be okay.
We will probably come home and have nice dinner of fillet minion. I get a gift every year from one of my mother's friends. It is kind of a secret. For the last three Decembers, I've gotten a good sized shipment of Omaha Steaks . They felt sad not being able to send my mom gift they sent her after she died, so now they send it to me (well, it is really technically for Aaron and Naim, so they will grow into strong, Nebraska beef fed boys. Heh. But they don't like the steaks, but will eat the burgers). The most fun thing about it is that it comes packed in dry ice, and this year we had fun making "clouds" in my kitchen with the dry ice under water in the sink. The kids thought that was the coolest thing evah. So, we've had steaks for Christmas eve now, and that has become sort of a tradition. Maybe someday the kids will stop being finicky enough to join us, but usually I just make them a hamburger or hot dog while D and I eat the steaks. Its about the only time I eat that much red meat all year.
This year on Christmas, after unwrapping presents in the morning, we are going to our church's refuge Christmas dinner. Its just a potluck for anyone who doesn't have better plans. It is just kind of sad and boring and anticlimactic to sit around by ourselves on Christmas. And I want the kids to know other adults and have good and special memories of other adults on Christmas. Otherwise, after presents, it is not too different than an ordinary day. So we are going to try this, and the woman who organizes it has really gone out of her way to encourage us to come. It just seems to me that our kids don't have any extended family here, really, and there are other adults (many older folks) who are lonely because they don't have any grandkids to spend the holidays with...why not get together with them? Besides, then I only have to make one dish and not a whole dinner to clean up after. And I'm all for that.
Sometime here we need to make sugar cookies or something, too. That is a tradition I'm stealing from my MIL (not that 48 billion other people don't bake for the holidays as well). But that is one thing I always enjoyed about spending holidays with D's family. That they had cooking/baking traditions. So I'm trying to incorporate some of that. Naim absolutely positively LOVES to cook. Aaron likes it, too. But Naim is always running in wanting to help me cook whenever I am in the kitchen. And it is such a teachable experience. You do math, reading, fine motor skills, sequencing, sensory/texture stuff, etc. Cooking has been a real Naim and Mom thing where we get to really spend time talking and doing stuff together. Its something I would like to make sure we always do at Christmas.
So that's the plan. Except for D's present and the potty training, I think I've managed to make it enjoyable, traditional, and not too pressure filled. Hope yours is as well!