"Its our off year" is a phrase I've heard my self repeatingendlessly recently. Its in response to the frequently asked question
about whether we will be heading Stateside this holiday season. You
see, every other year we venture back to the tundra-like landscape of
middle America in wintertime to spend the holidays with my very large
But not this year....its our off year, don't you know. While my sister and
brothers will be spending their holidays with their in-laws and my
youngest brother and my mother head to celebrate in San Francisco,
Kevin, Ellis and I will be remaining close to home over the next few
I suppose its a natural right of passage that as we get older, we
begin to make our own family traditions and find our feet as matriarchs
and patriarchs in a new family unit with our own children. But truth
be told, I could easily find it a bit lonely and a bit too quiet. As
the 4th of 5 children, with my parents having 5 and 6 siblings each, I
have never been a part of such a small family unit before. Fun didn't
have to be manufactured, it was there in the antics of my crazy
brothers or presence of my fun-loving sister. Tradition was well established and people were plentiful.
And so this year, its been even more important to flip
the switch on this off year to "on". And so, we have slowly begun
plodding a path to making our own holiday traditions. On Sunday, we had our Solstice/Midwinter celebrations and make some
new memories to punctuate our holiday season.
First thing in the morning, the boys headed out to play in the snow in their pyjamas
Whilst I baked up a storm for neighbours and nursery teachers.
(Clockwise: dark chocolate and cherry mudpie cookies, Butter Pecan Cookies, Cranberry, Orange and White Chocolate Cookies, and S'more fudge)
E loaded up the cookie express
and performed a range of delivery duties around the village including knocking, handing
over cookies, dropping cookies, playing with neighbour's toy cars and
eating a bowlful of chocolate (all very important holiday tasks).
After a quiet afternoon, we sat down to a special, candle lit meal
of hearty winter vegetable stew and amazing cranberry cake.
headed off to the village hall for the annual carol singing and mince
pies event. Its sad that the camera wasn't there to capture my small
boy standing at the front of the room pretending to read the song sheet
and sing. He was only let down by the fact that the one Christmas
song he knows is his own version of "Old MacDonald had a Jingle Bell".
When that failed, he proceeded to break dance. Yes, I did well-up just a bit.
Afterwards, we trudged through the snow and ice back to the house to open
small solstice gifts... Kevin got Ellis and I got new mugs as there
was a horrific accident involving my best mug and Ellis' last week. I
made the boys matching pyjama bottoms. Something I was quite nervous
about. You see, in all of my crafting I have only ever made Kevin a
pair of hand warmers. Rubbish, aren't I? I just didn't really know
how he would react to having 'jamas made for him.
Well, he was utterly delighted. In fact, he even wore them to
answer the door, forcing Ellis to come with him and show off their
matching duds to the neighbours. Nothing makes me happier than having something I've made be loved and appreciated by the recipients.
(Of course, the seams had to be thoroughly tested to ensure boy-proofness.)
And as they say, let there be light! Here's to a new season.
(recipes for the chocolate cherry cookies and cranberry cake coming tomorrow)