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Author Topic: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season  (Read 6067 times)

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Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« on: December 28, 2013, 04:59:15 PM »
I thought a thread about what we did right, what we did wrong, what we wished had or hadn't happened, and what we changed or didn't change would be useful in a "Monday morning" kind of way. In other words, how do you feel about the choices you made whether with time, gifts, people, or other things.

(1) This year, for the first time since my parents discontinued their annual stockings for each of their grown children about fifteen years ago--something they had always done since we were young--I decided to do stocking stuffers with help from the 99 Cents store. Well, they were a big hit. There were laughs and giggles and many exclamations of satisfaction and excitement, and it set a wonderful tone for opening the regular gifts. I will continue this in the future though I will buy those stuffers throughout the year and wrap them rather than waiting until the week before Christmas.

(2) I will continue to buy the pets (cats in my case) several presents for their own stocking, the same ones each year as they love the fresh wheat grass and dried organic catnip. (The sparkly red balls on a red silk ribbon were ignored and will not be repeated.)

(3) I will put up Christmas decorations as I do love them--but only those which I am comfortable storing for 10.5 months of the year. An artificial Christmas tree is fine, and keeps the "chew anything green" cats safe and healthy.

(4) I really like the way the holiday season played out this year when my attitude was one of complete relaxation. It's almost amazing how good things go when I don't get caught up in others' tension and stress. Shrugging off their attitude is wonderful for me.

(5) I like sticking to a budget (which I mostly did this year). Aside from not putting any January financial stress on me, it was wonderful to think about what others would love within firm parameters.

What about my fellow Ehellions?


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 06:15:02 PM »
I typically host a Christmas Eve dinner for my immediate family, which in the past, I have gone all out on.

This year I made a delicious homemade smoked salmon chowder (with my hubbies home smoked salmon) great bread and a selection of homemade desserts.  It was a big hit, and much easier than a prime rib roast with all of the sides.  The meal was just as well received with a lot less hassle.

I pre-made an overnight French toast bake, so all I had to do was pop it in the oven Christmas morning.  That worked really well, and was less than 15 minutes prep the night before....much faster than my favorite cinnamon rolls.

Next year, I want to be better about sticking to a budget.  It's a tough time of year for us, with my son's birthday just a couple days before Christmas.  We overbought a little bit this year, although since we celebrate his birthday on the actual day, we don't do much toy buying the rest of the I really try to buy stuff that's a bit developmentally ahead of his current skill level so it lasts all year.  Every year our little pile of things looks so paltry for him, and then stuff from the extended family starts coming in and all of a sudden a toy store explodes in the living room.

Next year, I WILL NOT STRESS about things that don't matter....Or so I tell myself. ::)  My son will not be deprived if we never do Santa, or Elf on the Shelf...and if we opt out (he's still very young so doesn't really get it) he's not going to hate me forever.  He's not going to be upset if we don't drive around and look at Christmas lights.  Nor does it matter that he doesn't get a handmade outfit from Mama every year.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 06:27:23 PM »
The one thing that made a big difference for us this year is doing all the cooking the day before. On Christmas Eve morning, I mixed the dough for the pull-apart cinnamon rolls and set it to rise while I ran an errand. When I got home I shaped the balls, dipped them in the yumminess, set them to rise again, then baked. While they cooled, we enjoyed a visit with family members who had stopped by. After dinner at a friend's home, I assembled our lasagna and put it unbaked in the car for transporting to DD's. It was very cold that night and the fridge was just too full, so the car was an excellent substitute. Before bed, we set out last minute items to take with us and left a list of what we needed to retrieve from the fridge.

Early Christmas morning, the tossed salad was prepared and we left soon after. The only thing we had to do for breakfast was heat up the rolls, pour juice, and make the coffee. For our main meal, we just had to bake the lasagna and make garlic bread.

We had such a relaxing and fun day that I don't think I'll ever cook on Christmas again. After breakfast and gift opening, we baked cookies, played games, worked puzzles, and generally just enjoyed each other's company. It was the best holiday I can remember and I plan to do it again.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 06:56:06 PM »
I waited a bit late to buy gifts for my own family (we celebrate Hannukah, which was really early this year). I got busy with work stuff, and so I didn't quite have my eye on the ball for DH's family (who celebrates Xmas). Unfortunately, most of them got a small bag of homemade candy and cash. It was not very festive, though they did like the candy. Next year I will try to be more aware of whether DH has started shopping for his family, and 'encourage' him earlier.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 07:16:53 PM »
I live almost 1800 miles away from my family. Every year, my son and I fly or drive back for Christmas. This year, my son went alone and I stayed behind with my DH. This was mainly because I have a family member who cannot let me have a drama free vacation back home. So, next year I am going to do a few things different.

1.  I'm going to spend all year making ornaments and next year I will buy a tree. Before my son leaves for vacation, we are going to put it up and decorate it together. We have never really decorated before because we always go out of town. Now I'm realizing that I would really like it if we decorated.

2. This year we spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas at his parents house. I have asked DH if we could only spend one day with them next year. He has agreed. He was pretty drained this Christmas.

3. I shipped all of my gifts out really late this year and I had to pay way too much for 2 day shipping. Next year, I'm shipping it at the beginning of December.

4. Next year, I'm going to buy my DS a ridiculous number of gifts. Every year, we buy one big gift and a 3-4 smaller gifts. Now that he is a teenager, he gets fewer gifts from family, so I am going to buy him gifts throughout the year and he will have a  ton by Christmas.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2013, 07:34:25 PM »
I'm going to order gifts online next year again--that worked well.

But I did miss going to the stores, so I'm going to try to schedule a day of just bopping around looking for general ideas--especially clothes for DD. She's got VERY specific tastes, and it's kind of fun for both of us if I can score a win.

I'm going to wrap presents well before Christmas--that was good! I used to be up really late on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents. So I was tired. But it also seemed sort of stupid to wrap something for such a short time under the tree.

BUT BUT BUT: I am going to insist that everybody ELSE wrap at least half their presents before Christmas Eve. There I was, ready to go to bed at 10pm, but DH was wrapping presents in the bedroom. I couldn't shoo him out to the dining/living room, bcs DD was wrapping presents out THERE.

Next year I want a fresher tree that's put up earlier.

Next year I think I might bow out of the apartment complex's Christmas caroling--I've led the caroling every year, and this year, there were only about 3 families. Mostly kids who weren't that interested in it. It was snowing, so that's part of it, but the attendance has been dwindling. It may be time for that to just sort of fade out and come back in some other year.

We drew presents among the cousins--that was sort of nice, but I learned that the most satisfying Christmas present is one that contains something you asked for AND something you're surprised by.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2013, 08:42:54 PM »
We didn't go anywhere!!  Just the three of us in Christmas Eve and Day. So so nice. After 17 people here for extended thanksgiving and traveling last year plus working retail - it was the best morning

I did pancakes for late breakfast around 10:00. Hubby did dinner - we had beef Wellington, scallops, veggies and ate at 4:30. Just relaxing.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2013, 09:36:08 PM »
This year I didn't let myself be guilted in to helping cook extra food.  The menu doubled 2 weeks before Christmas and I refused to stay up all night preparing food that I wasn't going to eat, but expected to cook anyway.  Yeah..not happening


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2013, 12:19:00 PM »
Not so much one for me but for my Dad.  It's really not a good idea when sitting down at a table full of food that mom's been cooking for hours to say "Weren't we supposed to have peas too?" (We were but that's not the way to ask), and then follow up the next day by saying "I told you not to buy that huge dessert" when mom mentions there's a lot of said dessert left.


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2013, 08:05:55 PM »
A) Get the tree we like by the 2nd week of December!  Unlike the PP above who said the fake tree kept her cats from chewing on it - our plant chewing cat DID chew and DID swallow 'needles' from the tree, and then he barfed them up all over the house.  Repeatedly!   >:(  He didn't do that with the real tree we got last year.  That one, he investigated and then emptied the bottom branches of ornaments and slept under the tree happily.

2) Clean house fully by a week before Christmas. I have had it up to the eyeballs with DH's procrastination that means I'm doing heavy furniture moving and cleaning on Christmas morning.  This means I'll have to be a huge pest to get him off his behinder to designate where certain mess piles go, and they are ALWAYS his mess piles, but that's a price I'm willing to pay to get the house cleaner earlier in the month.

3) Remember to pull the cookie sheet out of the oven PERFECTLY FLAT when using the Teflon sheets...  They're slippery little suckers, and they WILL slide off the sheet and onto the floor, the oven door, and the floor of the oven, causing me to have to stop baking for a week while waiting for the repairman to arrive to help me get cookie bits out from UNDER the floor of the oven!

4) Decorations up earlier. They're fun to look at and arrange, and I want them out for more than 1 week.

5) Caution with the crust on the apple pie.  Two layers, doubled over and pinched together, is an ENORMOUS amount of crust on the rim of the pie.  Waaaaay too much.  Nobody wants that much crust!   :o
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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2013, 09:09:49 PM »
Nobody wants that much crust!   :o

I do! I do!


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2013, 09:14:00 PM »
Mine are cooking things. 

For a small gathering (only 9 this year), a turkey roulade is way easier than a whole turkey.   The stuffed pork loin ended up a tad dry, but the turkey was great.   Next year, two turkey roulades with two different stuffings.  Or a turkey roulade and a small ham.

A lattice top pie crust isn't as hard as it looks.   Mmmmm.  Pie.   

You can peel the potatoes and cut them up a day early for the mashers.    Saves a huge hassle the day of the feast.  But 5lbs was a tad much.   

I actually did better this year on not overcooking.   Must keep that up.  It saved a lot of stress and hassle.   :D


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2013, 09:26:25 PM »
I think I'll put the big tree up next year. The past 2 years I've put up a small tree and just a few ornaments for the sake of simplicity. I think I'll put the big one up and I'll put it up sooner.

Also, we always go to my parent's house for Xmas eve and we used to go to the IL's Xmas day. Now that we have no place to go Xmas day, I think I'll try actually cooking up a nice dinner for us and maybe invite one or two friends that I know have no family nearby.

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!


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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2013, 09:26:48 PM »
Holidays went well this year.

Did volunteer work on Christmas Eve which was a great start to the holidays.

Relaxing days, just me and my mum. Didn't cook at all on Christmas Day - just seafood, salad stuff and bread rolls. Ended up cooking a fairly simple meal on Boxing Day but wasn't sure on the timing of some things I hadn't done before. Turned out well but won't do it again without practicing first. Stresses me out, especially when my mother asks every 5 minutes whether it's ready yet (it took me 15 minutes longer than I thought). After lovely quiet Christmas, not sure I ever want to do big extended family Christmas again even though we're a casual bunch.

Agreed in advance to ban two topics from discussion for those days which made both days so much pleasanter. After the holiday meals watched feel good DVDs. That's a definite plan for next time.  :)

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Re: Monday Morning Quarterbacking This Holiday Season
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2013, 09:34:55 PM »
Keep trying to get an accurate count and accountability.

BG: We live in an area where many people don't have blood family nearby, so our friends are our family. Christmas dinner is like many family gatherings where different folks bring sides and dessert. Except for one family. We've known them for 25+ years and they never give us a count or bring a dish. J&J have 3 adult children and a DIL.

Each year it's a challenge to get a count. Last year we went from expecting 12 people to having 17. Four of the extra were J&J's children. One was a friend of DS1 who suddenly was stuck in town. 

Mrs. J spent the entire time, as she does every year, saying to all that she didn't know to bring anything and she had X at home. She says it so much that folks sat it with her. Including one son. /BG

This year I tried to head off not knowing how many or who was bring what by contacting everyone via phone and email, leaving messages that I needed a count and we needed to coordinate who was bringing what. I made it light by saying I wanted to make certain we didnt have 3 bowl of mashed potatoes.  DH followed up with a conversation with Mr. J that since I was making beef Wellington I needed a good count. 

Crickets.  30 minutes before everyone was to arrive Mrs. J emailed (which I didn't see until everyone was gone). It said only J&J were coming. 15 minutes before DH received a call that they would only be stopping by for a quick hello.  J&J did arrive, stayed for appetizers and then dinner. DSs offered to eat in an another room and give up their seats at the table. 

Of course throughout the whole dinner Mrs. J commented that she didn't know how many people there would be so she didn't bring anything.

My goal for next year is to keep nudging and get a count. Maybe some salad in a bag.  :)

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