Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Ideals and Christmas Realities

As usual, my lofty, soaring ideals for this Christmas season far outstripped the abilities of my earthbound, plodding realities! You too?

Oooooh, I did have some wonderful plans. Just thinking about those idealistic plans gives me delightful, post-Christmas shivers. Do I really have to think about the realities?

Soaring Ideal #1 - Homemade gifts from the kitchen for all the neighbors. You know, Italian Bread Dipping Mix, Blueberry Salsa, Ukranian Braided Loaf. The kind of homemade gift that would make the neighbors comment to their spouse, as they quietly shut the front door after receiving their gift, "You know, we just don't realize how blessed we are to have the M's as our neighbors! Day after day they bring us joy and friendship, and it takes a time like this, a gift like this, to really sit back and appreciate them as they are due."
Yes, that's exactly what I was looking for.

Plodding Reality #1 - I have, instead, given large generous smiles to all the neighbors this holiday season. I have complimented their seasonal outdoor decor, wished them a merry Christmas, commiserated with them on the lack of snow. I have not delivered any home-baked goods to their doors. We'll have to wait for next year to get the appreciation we are so due.

Soaring Ideal #2 - 9-foot tree fully redone in the cocoas, coppers, golds and lime greens of my dreams. This really COULD have become a reality if along with my soaring ideal I did not also include that every ornament must be hung on the tree with a gold organza ribbon . . . necessitating the ironing, tying and retrimming of a ribbon for every ornament put on the tree.

Plodding Reality #2 - We had a tree. It had a star (and some really great twigs sticking out of it just like a real, live decorator!). Shimmering copper ribbon swagged down the tree. And half the ornaments got up . . . before time was up.

Even on Christmas Day the ornaments were hiding behind the paisley chair in hopes that in some few duty-less seconds I could get the rest of them on.

It was not to be.

The tree was half-decorated. But that half sure was gorgeous!

Soaring Ideal #3 - Really, really beautiful wrapping of all gifts. The kind of wrapping that says, "I thought of you; I took my time; I love beauty; I am creative." Gift wrap the way the The Nester does it:

Photo used with permission: The Nester

Plodding Reality #3 - All gifts were wrapped in recyclable paper off the discount table at Target. But, hey, at least they were wrapped . . . even the gifts for My Mom and My Dad that I snuck off to wrap as they were finishing up Christmas brunch. They never suspected the last strip of tape was snapped on mere moments before their gifts were unwrapped . . . or maybe they did---they've known me for a long time.

Soaring Ideal #4 - Christmas cards. Sent out the first week of December. To all friends both past and present. To restablish connections with people who currently think we must have moved to a foreign country. Or gone into hiding.

Plodding Reality #4 - I'm really hoping to send out pictures that say "Happy New Year" . . . or some other holiday in the year 2010.

Soaring Ideal #5 - A stunning, breathtaking Christmas Brunch spread for my side of the family . . . highlighted by homemade Maple Cinnamon Rolls from Pioneer Woman. (Don't be too judgmental here. My brother is, after all, a professional artisan baker and chef. You can't blame me too harshly for overdoing it when he's on the guest list!)

I think there was also a vision of gold-edged placards at each dish along the buffet line to let the guests know the full, delicious menu.

Plodding Reality #5 - I actually served two sweet bread recipes that began with cans of crescent rolls . . . purchased at the grocery store. I intentionally avoided eye contact with my brother as he skimmed through the buffet line.

And I must also say that by the time we ate brunch at 11:30, the guests were so happy to finally have food that they didn't really care what they were eating.

They never missed the placards . . . gold-edged or otherwise.

So, there you have it. My Christmas ideals . . . and the realities. And somewhere in there we spent loving family time, ate scrumptious foods, reflected on what really happened on that Silent Night . . . and never missed those lofty ideals.

Not even for a minute.


  1. I am SO with you! I always have grand plans and most of them just don't seem to materialize in the actual living of life before Christmas.

    We did, however, eat lots of good fun, share tons of laughs and so many hugs. We visited with neighbors and did get the tree decorated, but none of the ornaments matched and many of them were hung with paper clips bent inside out, since I couldn't seem to find all of those beautiful ornament hangers I bought last year.

    The best thing was that all of my kids were home and healthy. Our family was together and that is really all that mattered in the end.

    I hope you have the most wonderful New Year's ever.

  2. gorgeous..loving family time...good food...those are what memories are made of :)

  3. I LOVE this. I laughed, really laughed out loud. Several times. Besides, I truly think that Scott knows if he criticized your culinary offerings, he simply would not be invited again. True?

    I had the same baking plans as thank you gifts to all those in our community who've served us beyond the call of duty this year. I had planned to bake at least a dozen loaves of cinnamon swirl bread. Due to the weakness in my arm, I always start the dough mixing in the bread machine and then shape and bake separately. So this is how the project began: I enthusiastically started my dough and ran some quick errands for Christmas boxes, etc. planning to be back in time to complete the shaping process. And then? I arrived home to find that in the mixing/kneading phase, the bread machine had "walked" off the counter and crashed to the marble tile floor, ruining both the bread and the machine.

    Second bread machine, second attempt. I was really going to do it this time. I even got up at O-dark-thirty to get a head start on my dozen loaves. And there was no milk.

    No loaves got made so I'm going with "the thought that counts" theory.

    Absolutely love your blog.

  4. Flag day! Funny! I might need to steal that idea.....did not get around to our Christmas cards either this year! Thanks for your comments on my blog. It is fun getting to know people through their blogs! I always enjoy yours and your humor!

  5. Oh thank you. You make me feel more normal now. The guilt I live with each year at Christmas is almost back-breaking. Unfortunately my good intentions seem to fly right out the door every year. Instead of improving each year, I think I'm getting worse! When is flag day??? Do I still have time???

  6. I love you! The Flag Day card cracks me up! As long as your happy, that's all that matters.

  7. Really wonderful plans! lovely family and delicious food make the Christmas a great time.