We had a really nice, relaxing Christmas this year. We started off by throwing a dinner party for some friends on Christmas Eve. I made filet mignon, potatoes dauphinoise, salad with pomegranates, roasted carrots, a cake, and there was free-flowing wine for everyone but me. I set the table and created a centerpiece out of flowers and greens, and we had old-school Christmas music playing. The house was all decorated and T cleaned until it sparkled (yay for that!). It was just really festive and fun. My mother sent over the most gorgeous dress for Miss M; she loved the twirly skirt and looked beautiful. T has become extremely proficient at doing her hair, which cracks me up. He had it all pulled back in a pony, and it looked so lovely. She was full of energy and made everyone laugh all night. She went to bed just before the adults had dinner, so the dinner itself was a grown-up dinner, which was nice for T and I.
My mother got Miss M a play kitchen for Christmas. T. had assembled it Christmas eve day, so after dinner on Christmas Eve, our friends helped bring the play kitchen and its accessories upstairs. As a side note, it's a Step2 play kitchen, and worth every penny of its $150 price tag. It is really sturdy, and does all sorts of things. There is an undercounter light that turns on and off; a phone that rings; the buttons on the microwave really work (and it makes a "microwave" sound, as well as a popcorn noise), and the stove does something really fabulous. When you put the frying pan (also included) on the stovetop, it lights up and makes a sizzling sound (the pan is translucent). When you put the large pot (also included) on, it lights up and sounds like boiling water. It's just really cool. Plus, it came with tons of accessories--a stainless steel veggie strainer, all sorts of stainless steel kitchen accessories like a spatula, plastic dishes, plastic silverware, pots and pans, condiments (including a pepper grinder with a top that actually goes around). It's just a great set.
Once the kitchen was in place, our friends were thrilled to have the chance to assemble the Lego train that Santa brought for Miss M. I was exhausted at that point, and the idea of getting down on the floor with my sore back and giant tummy wasn't overly appealing, so I was grateful for their help. It was hilarious to watch them try to sort out what and how to build, and tons of fun (particularly when paired with homemade limoncello one of them brought, which I again abstained from. Well, I had a sip, just to taste--it was really good!). We played vintage Christmas movies (ie, Santa Claus is Coming to Town) in the background while they worked. It was just really, really fun.
Christmas morning, Miss M was up at her usual 6:30 a.m. I turned on the tree lights and the room lights, and then we brought her in. I filmed it as she came into the room, so my mom could see her reaction to her toys. She was thrilled. It was adorable. She was enthralled by both the "choo choo train" and the kitchen, and went back and forth playing with the two for more than an hour. Around 8, we sent her upstairs to wake up my stepsister. Miss M apparently wakes her up by trying to open the shades, whichI think is funny. When she tries to wake me up, she comes over to the side of the bed and says "mommy wake up! Get up please!" I guess my stepsister needs a little more help than that!
When everyone was up and assembled in the living room with a cup of coffee/tea, we started opening presents. It took until about 2 to open everything, because Miss M wanted to play with each thing that she opened. Soon, the living room was a giant mess of pieces of things and wrapping paper. We took a hiatus at lunchtime to eat and clean up, before we continued on. As always, my family was incredibly generous and sent Miss M loads of fun things to play with. Santa mostly got her legos (she loves them), and she adores the play kitchen. She's constantly making me tea. I got her the Fisher Price talking tea set, which is really cute. When you pour a cup of tea, it makes the pouring sound. She also makes me tea in the microwave. We have a tea kettle, so I'm not sure where she learned to do that!
T. bought me some lovely, thoughtful Christmas gifts. I had looked at this maternity set at a local high-end body products store. It's gorgeous stuff that they don't sell in the U.S. He wasn't even with me when I looked at it. It was so expensive that I bought myself a small bottle of their maternity bath oil, which I'm almost out of. He couldn't have even known that I looked at the set, but he knows I love their stuff, and he got me the set as part of my Christmas present! It's so nice. It came with tummy cream that is divine. The water here is incredibly hard, plus it's winter, so my skin is dry and itchy everywhere. He got me all sorts of other cool stuff, too. We are so busy all of the time with Miss M and doing things that it was nice to get so many special, thoughtful gifts. I hadn't expected him to go to so much trouble. My stepsister also got me tickets to see a play that I really want to see, which was also really kind of her. She's a student, so I appreciate that she sacrificed some of her hard-earned cash for me.
I think everyone liked the gifts I found for them, as well. I made up calendars this year on my Mac. I have to say, the quality of the Apple printing is really high, and the gifts shipped directly and got to their destinations quickly. For every month, I featured photos of Miss M from that same month last year. I thought it was a cute way of showing how she grew over the last year, sharing some of the best photos of her, and showing what we did. I tried to use different photos from the ones I used in our Christmas card, so the people I sent them to now have lots of nice photos of Miss M. (I am notoriously bad about sending photos, even though email makes it easy!). I also sent along other presents with the calendars. For my mom, I arranged for a professional photographer to take pictures of the girls, my mom, and me when my mom visits after the baby is born. I thought it would be cool to get some good photos taken of our three generations of women. My mom is hard to buy for, and T thought that would be a good present for her. I thought it was an inspired idea. We sent T's mom a plane ticket to visit after the baby is born. The grampa's got relatively uninspired clothing and other odds and ends, but they are all a little harder to buy for, and I sent them cool stuff that is only available locally.
For T, I really tried to come up with gifts to spoil him. I arranged for us to go away for a weekend, where he'll have some time on his own to get spa treatments. I got him special cognac glasses and an expensive bottle of cognac. I bought him a few shirts, and some other odds and ends that I thought he'd be into. I think he liked everything. The shirts look fabulous on him! It's so hard to buy over the internet sometimes, because you never quite know how it's going to turn out.
Mid-present-opening, we took a break for our Christmas morning tradition: eggs benedict and mimosas. T and I decided years ago that we needed our own Christmas traditions, so that has been one of ours forever. I brought out the Waterford crystal champagne glasses, and enjoyed virgin mimosas alongside them. As always, it was a delicious tradition!
There were a few gray spots to our holiday, but I'm choosing not to focus on those right now. All in all, it was just a really great Christmas, filled with laughter and love and happiness. It's such a joy to celebrate Christmas with a much-longed for child. It's hard to believe she's almost two. It feels like just yesterday we were wondering if things would work out, and here we are now, in the thick of laughter and light and love. We are so blessed.