Worked the evening of the 23rd, nice easy pace and home early (for a Friday).
In laws arrived while I was at work so December 24th saw daughter revved up for time with Grandma and Grand Dad. We had decided to have the traditional dinner on the evening of the 24th so as to eliminate one element of stress from Christmas Day itself, so the kitchen was fragrant early with smells of onions, sausage and sage frying for the stuffing assemblage. The bird was stuffed, trussed, oiled and ovened by 1:45 so I felt comfortable in cracking a beer to help with the kitchen clean-up.
Grandma and Grand Dad arrived around 1:30 for a brief visit before whisking wife and daughter off to church for 3 pm service, as a practicing agnostic I observed by prepping veg, spuds and setting the table while carefully selecting the wine for dinner. Upon the family's return at 4:30 we were in good form for six o'clock dining, another beer, a little a la minute on the veg, one explosive gravy incident and dinner hit the table at 6:10.
Our Christmas dinner menu rarely changes:
Stuffing (bread based with celery, onion, mushroom,sausage, sage and pinenuts)
Swedish Potatoes ( mashed spuds with minced onion, cream cheese and sour cream)
Brussels Sprouts (parboiled then sauteed with garlic, butter, bread crumbs and gratineed with romano cheese)
Some combo of Brocolli/Carrots/Cauliflower (simply steamed to counteract all the other butter/cream combos)
This years wines were Kettle Valley Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 - delicious with a little barnyard and a lovely dried cherry finish and St. Francis Chardonnay 2003 - nice in that big in your face Californian style.
Post dinner get daughter into her PJ's, do one round of dishes and then turn out the lights to flame the Christmas Pudding (Grand Dad's secret recipe), served with hard Brandy sauce and strong black coffee.
Throughout dinner daughter kept asking us all if we thought we would be able to sleep (if we really want to solve the energy crisis we need some sort of Monsters Inc. system to wire kids into the power grid in the week preceding Christmas, Easter, Halloween and their birthday) but she finally drifts off around 8:30, after a quick check on Santa's progress on the Norad site, leaving wife and I to wrap and fill stockings and have a nightcap, Bailey's for her - Strathisla for me.
I hit the sheets around midnight and fall asleep almost immediately........then wake up almost immediately at 2:38 am.
Daughter has been awakened by noises on the roof and wants to get up !!!!!!!!
My saintly wife gets up and induces sleep in daughter but at 6 am I am once again awakened, by wife this time, because "I can't hold her back any more".
Christmas morning now joins the "Very short list of things I will get up at 6 am for", along with playing Augusta National, watching the live CBC telecast of the Stanley Cup Parade from Toronto and sex with Uma Thurman.
Coffee is brewed, stockings are ravaged then the presents Santa left "in the tree", then "just one more" before bacon, eggs, biscuits and more coffee. Finally by 8 am the small men with jackhammers in the back of my head cannot be ignored so I go back to bed, wife calms daughter and everyone grabs some shut-eye in advance of the arrival of "The Grands".
Bolstered by 90 minutes sleep I take the role of "Santa" to distribute gifts but it is a futile effort, wife and GrandDad are notoriously slow openers while daughter cannot tear in fast enough and rather than go mad I give up and let a process of natural selection occur.
The gifts are all lovely and well thought out as usual, with just enough of the "what the hell am I going to do with that" mixed in to make it interesting. Right around the "I need a drink" time (12:30ish) the R's arrive to save us. 10 year old Olivia and daughter entertain one another, champagne and OJ is served, neighbours arrive and adult conversation ensues long enough for my to regain my grip on sanity. Buffet is laid out and protein brings new energy to battle the high pitched voices and long distance phone calls.
The neighbours, then R's depart, and soon enough it is time for dinner. I offer some options but the consensus is for leftover Turkey/Stuffing/Gravy. I reheat the bird and trimmings while roasting some potatoes and prepping veg, we pop the corks on some cheap Argentinean plonks and dig in. About 10 minutes into dinner (6:30ish) I glance over and notice that daughter is gone - oh she's physically present but she is "gone". Her eyes have glazed over and she hasn't spoken for at least 5 minutes, the tank is empty. Amazingly daughter makes it through dinner without incident then begs for bed, she gets her wish and is out by 7:30. The "Grands" head out and wife and I do dishes, tidy the carnage before nightcaps again and bed by 11.
We survived, and actually except for the "sleepus interuptus" it was a superb day.
Merry Christmas to all and to all ............. a really good night.