Christmas 2022

I know, Christmas is long gone for most people. It’s been replaced with the NEW YEAR energy talk. We may be the only people with our Christmas tree and all decorations still up (honestly, only because I just haven’t had any time to take them down yet).

Christmas movies and music came to an end right around the 31st around here, though, so we are mostly just in “Leftover Christmas Decoration Mode” versus “Active Christmas Mode”.

Still greatly enjoying the cozy fireplace and twinkle lights (photo taken yesterday by our basement fireplace).

Before it gets too close to Valentine’s Day, however, I really do want to recap our Christmas!! It was all great, for the most part. Lots of quality family time, yummy food, wonderful gifts.

I’d say the only negative is that I still somehow ended up feeling rather overwhelmed/ semi-frantic, come Christmas Eve, despite feeling like I was generally more organized this year! So, I don’t know what that was all about. I mean, once we actually started our festivities everything was fantastic, but it just didn’t feel the lead up/ prep was quite as “smooth” as I would have liked. Oh well. I think that unless I take the week of Christmas off of work, it is just maybe always going to feel like that. Just too many things to fit in.

Anyway, here we go….

Christmas Eve Day

My parents had arrived a few days before Christmas, due to the snowstorm. Christmas Eve day was mostly spent prepping things for the evening. Ethan actually had to work from 7-11 a.m. (because we forgot to have him request off in advance, and McDonalds is still open on Christmas Eve…. oops). It was fine, anyway. He didn’t miss anything.

I spent several hours making our pico de gallo for chips, a pistachio dessert, and then finishing up our Christmas cookies!! I’d made dough for sugar cookies several days before but we hadn’t had time to actually roll and bake the cookies. Once Ethan got home from work, we finally made them together.

This is something that ideally DEFINITELY should not have been done on Christmas Eve. It was fun, but it makes a big mess and takes a long time. Highly prefer to do the cookie decorating in advance! But again, oh well… just worked out this way….

My dad was also weaving around us working on some other food prep, while Ivan finished wrapping a few lingering gifts. My mom worked away getting our platters and cutlery and everything ready around our basement bar, where we’d have our meal later.

By mid-afternoon, we ended up basically running out of time and realizing we were, sadly, not going to make it to Christmas Eve church at 3:30. Honestly, this did lead to me feeling a bit frustrated. I felt sort of responsible for not managing all the tasks leading up to Christmas well enough, or something like that. It was one of those things where we were still not all showered/ dressed and time kept slipping away, and we eventually decided it just wasn’t going to happen. This made me sad, because I personally feel like the candlelight Christmas Eve church service is very beautiful and should be a major part of the holiday. I couldn’t help but feel if we had been more organized, we wouldn’t have been scrambling at the last minute. But again… oh well. ๐Ÿ™‚ We tried. We had a LOT going on leading up to Christmas (work, swim meet, holiday prep, a snowstorm, regular life…. ), so I told myself to just give myself a little grace and let it go.

Christmas Eve

With a little extra buffer time, I got ready (now maybe a bit overdressed in my Christmas dress, to just stay home… ha….) and we took a few family photos.

First a few selfies….

And then some actual photos:

We then started heating things up and moving the food to the bar for our Christmas meal. As I’ve mentioned, we don’t do a formal meal at the table; we do a smorgasbord of snacky type foods around the bar. It still ends up being a lot of work to prep and set all that food out, so it took some time.

While everyone else got the food situated, I played Christmas tunes on the piano for a while (as requested by my dad). Then each of the boys took a turn.

(Asher doesn’t take lessons anymore, but he regurgitated a song from last year. He did so-so; clearly a bit rusty ;), but I was happy to hear him play again.)

The bar in process of getting all the food out; mostly cookies and cheese at this point, apparently…. ๐Ÿ˜‚:

Our “main meal” consisted of carnitas tacos and guacamole, plus meatballs, shrimp + cocktail sauce, cheese and crackers, summer sausage, chips and pico, homemade Chex mix, cookies, a pistachio dessert, and cheesy potatoes. Lots to dabble in, mostly finger type foods. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was all delicious.

Love this pic!


Mom and Dad:

Another food pic:

The adults kept snacking…. and snacking…. while the boys started distributing the presents.

Beer buddies:

We had some combination of the football game, a Hallmark movie or Christmas music on in the background the whole time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Asher wore this Santa hat all evening and looked very festive, like a little elf delivering gifts.

Side note: We all decided that this year we would open all gifts on Christmas Eve, instead of opening “family gifts” on Christmas Eve and “Santa gifts” on Christmas Day, as we’d always done previously. (Even last year, when they both knew about Santa, we still separated the gifts in half and saved some for Christmas morning.) Ultimately, it just felt easier to do it all on Christmas Eve- and made my wrapping/ sorting simpler, too.

Gift Opening

Finally, we moved on to our gift opening. I have shared before: We do a lot of gifts. To each their own, but this is what we do. Many of the boys’ gifts are on the practical side (new PJ pants, socks, underwear, books), with some more “wow” gifts sprinkled in.

Ethan waiting to get going…

We also always go around in round robin style, opening one by one. I really, really enjoy doing this slowly, no rush, just sitting back, sipping a beverage by the fire while I watch each person open their gift and share it, while listening to Christmas music. It’s really my favorite part, I think! It’s relaxing and fun to see people opening gifts you got them and (hopefully) liking them!

I’m not going to list out everything we got for each other, but I think everyone ended up very happy. Here’s a splattering that I took pictures of:

Asher: a black Nike Tech sweatshirt. He requested one in red for his birthday, and one in black for Christmas. He LOVES these and has been living in them, and they seem very, very well made, so I’d say they were a worthy investment.
I bought each of the boys travel sized binoculars for our upcoming Costa Rica trip! Ready for some sloth, monkey and bird watching.
Asher loves to make himself smoothies after swim practice, so Ethan got him a Magic Bullet blender! Perfect for him to make individual sized smoothies without using the big blender.
I bought Ethan Cal Newport’s “How to be a High School Superstar”! ๐Ÿ˜‚ He starts high school next year, so I figured it couldn’t hurt!
A couple new t-shirts…
A new (BADLY NEEDED) swim backpack for Asher. (His old one literally had a hole in it.) And, new PJ pants.
One of their bigger gifts: Kindle Paperwhites + cases + chargers!
Ethan in his new Badgers hat (I picked out) and Club America jersey (Mexico City soccer team) that Ivan picked out.
New shoes I bought for Ivan. We also got him a custom-made Nike baseball cap embroidered with Asher’s swim team’s name on it- which he said fits perfectly and he loves! Great for wearing to swim meets.

I’ll stop there! I received a ton of amazing gifts too, from Ivan (my Apple watch) and the boys (new sports bra + more Lululemon leggings!). My mom and dad got me a whole bunch of great different things, from some much-appreciated household items to a couple books to clothing items and more…. I felt very spoiled by the end of the night. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the gifts we all picked out for my parents were generally a hit, too. Even though all the gift buying can be a bit overwhelming, it really felt like a success this time around. Yay!!!

It took a long time to get through all the various gifts and clean up. By the end, we were ready for a few more snacks… ha.

It always seems to get quite late before we go to bed on Christmas Eve. But that’s okay; I like to just enjoy the evening. It might be my favorite evening of the year. โค๏ธ

Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day is usually pretty low key. No big plans besides watching some Christmas movies, eating more, and relaxing.

Since we no longer had any Santa gifts to open (sniff, sniff… this made me a tiny bit sad!!! An end of an era….), the boys woke up and played a few rounds of their new FIFA soccer Xbox game in Asher’s room.

(A gift on Christmas Eve)

I spent quite a while trying to rearrange our basement, clean up and organize the piles of gifts, because we had company coming over later!

The Packers played at noon, so that was also one change this year from our usual schedule of just watching back-to-back Christmas movies. We watched that, and part way through, Ivan’s sister + kids plus his brother came over to exchange gifts. We all spent a few hours half watching the game, half chatting, and then eating more leftovers, plus a huge pot of broccoli cheese soup.

Once the Packer game was over, the kids opened their gifts.
My niece seemed to like the doll I got her!

We all gathered around the bar and just hung out in the basement for quite a while.

Ivan and I also spent some time helping the boys set up their Kindles (and Asher immediately wanted to cash in a Kindle gift card that my sister sent!).

Excited to pick out a new e-book

By the time everyone left, it was late afternoon/ early evening.

We finally were able to put on a movie- and as usual, we chose It’s a Wonderful Life.

Our favorite.

Once that one ended, I think we put another movie on- I can’t even remember which one! I think just something from Netflix or a Hallmark movie.

I had to be up early on the 26th to work a half day (Ivan had off), so I didn’t stay up too late. Even though our Christmas is pretty chill compared to people who gather with huge extended family groups, it still kind of wears me out! But in a good way. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a really great couple of days!!

As I already shared, on the 26th we went to see the new Puss in Boots movie in the theater, and out to lunch, and then my parents went home on the 27th.

The end!

Another Christmas chapter closed! Christmas is really special to me. It’s a total whirlwind, and so busy… yet memories that I cherish so deeply.

Next year it looks like we will go to MEXICO for Christmas and New Year’s for the first time ever (!!!), and my parents will go to Ireland. Part of me is sad that we won’t have our usual, cozy Christmas, but I’m also excited for Ivan to have his first Christmas at “home” in over 17 years, and for my sister to have my parents with her family on Christmas for a change. And, part of me might be a little bit happy to maybe be off the hook from doing at least some of the usual Christmas prep next year!!! Hahaha!

14 thoughts on “Christmas 2022”

  1. sounds like a great Christmas celebration. look all the food pics… like all day long snack buffet, hahahah…. when I was little, I used to spend Chinese New Year at my uncle’s place. he has a big house and hosted many of us. I felt like everyday they have so much food all day long, all we had to worry about is to play. miss those days.
    excited for this year’s Christmas for you and Ivan. I would like to spend Chinese New Year in china too, hopefully next year.


    1. Me too! I feel like as they’ve gotten older, they just don’t read as much as they used to. When they were ~7-11 or so they read ALL the time. (Probably because they didn’t have the same access they have now to phones/electronics…. ugh!! This kills me. But it’s hard to totally cut out, too…) I’m hopeful the Kindles will help keep new books highly accessible to them, which definitely seems to help.


  2. I am so glad the boys loved their kindles! I adore mine and use it so much! And then I love using the kindle ap on my phone as it syncs with your kindle so you can read anywhere!

    It sounds like a great Christmas overall! Christmas looks a lot different from how I celebrated it growing up. Christmas Eve was our family night – we’d go to mass and then have a big meal and open all of our gifts – even the Santa ones as my parents finagled a way for Santa to deliver the gifts on our deck while we were opening presents – probably because then they wouldn’t have to worry about us getting up crazy early on Christmas Day? And then Christmas Day was spent with my dad’s extended family. Now we celebrate with Phil’s extended family on Christmas Eve and it is really the highlight of our Christmas celebrations, at least for me. I adore this group of his cousins. Their kids are all college-aged or older and they are so good to our boys. Like one of the cousin’s kids is like 23 or 24 and he sat on the floor and played with Paw Patrol toys with Paul!! One of his sisters took a video of it and I told her he needs to like post it on a dating ap or something. The women will flock to him! LOL!! And then the couple that hosts adores our kids. I know they are SO ready to be grandparents but their kids aren’t quite at the stage yet. So they are very excited to shower our kids with tons of attention and love. Christmas Day was really quiet. Phil made lunch and then we had our bigger meal at dinner time. I grew up in a house where there was SO MUCH FOOD at the holidays. But that is not how Phil grew up and we don’t have enough people in our house to make all these different sides and such. So our meals are really simple. I do get a bit sad about the lack of desserts. We literally had no Christmas cookies on Christmas since my MIL wasn’t able to join us. She usually brings a platter of cookies – that all have gluten in them. But she was too sick to be with us this year. I did make sugar cookies for the cookie decorating party on Thanksgiving weekend but I didn’t make anything else. The upside to our more simple meals and lack of baking is that I am not stressed about the holidays/running around like crazy getting meals ready. So there are trade-offs! But I get a bit sad looking at people’s dessert spreads! But a lot of GF baking is just not great… So it doesn’t feel worth the effort, and I am an abstainer so it’s best for me to not have access to a smorgasbord of treats!!!!

    I think you should definitely give yourself some grace, though. Your parents came earlier than expected – I know you love having them around, but you are still kind of hosting people and figuring out meals for a couple of extra people. And you had that massive swim meet the weekend before (which is the worst timing – who needs MORE stress in December??).


    1. That’s so great about the group you spend Christmas Eve with. Those do sound like wonderful people!! What a bummer about your poor MIL being sick on Christmas though. I totally get how you’d feel sad looking at all the desserts! I’m honestly not a huge dessert person, but I do like the splattering of different Christmas cookies. The only downside is all the leftovers.. with me working from home, I do have to be pretty regimented about allowing myself, say, 1-2 cookies per day, MAX, as a treat with my tea or something. We ended up with a good amount of leftover cookies for some reason this year (we still have some left, today, 1/10/23!). I’m always worried about not having enough, and then end up probably having too many…


  3. I loved reading this recap, Kae. All of it. From the food to the gifts to the pictures.

    I try to streamline Christmas activities and I do my best to plan in advance AND I ONLY WORK PART-TIME, and I still feel absolutely exhausted by the time Christmas arrives. There is just…so much to do. I think I need to stop expecting it to turn out differently if I plan more/better/differently. I like our special food and traditions and those take a lot of time to execute. I think if I went into it with that mindset (I’ll be tired on Christmas Day…but I have some time between Christmas and New Year’s to recuperate), I’d be less hard on myself for being tired of all the work that Christmas brings with it.

    That said, we had a really nice Christmas this year. There are always a few ups and downs, but mostly positive memories from the season.

    I’m so happy for Ivan to get to be with this family and the same for your sister, though I can 100% relate to you having mixed feelings. But it will make for some extra unique/special memories for your family unit which I bet people will treasure their whole lives!


    1. Elisabeth, this sums it up exactly! I love our Christmas traditions but they take time and effort. No amount of pre-planning will change that and maybe it is my expectation that needs to change.

      Great post Kaelyn! I love hearing the details about how other families celebrate!


      1. Thanks Kaethe! Yup, I am really starting to believe that no matter how much pre-planning we do, it’s still going to be kind of chaotic. Unless we severely cut back on what we do, there is no way around it. I try to remind myself that many of the things we are doing that make me feel a little too busy ARE the actual holiday traditions that we love to do! So instead of complaining about the cookie mess or how long it took, I’m trying to remember that, well, baking Christmas cookies is something I actually do want to do. And the mess is just part of it! No sense in trying to rush through it or “get it done sooner”…. it’s just part of the process.


    2. I love that mindset shift. I really should work on adopting that. I think I always sort of build the holidays up in my head, because in the long term, I think I am pretty good at looking back on mostly just the positives. So I kind of forget about the negatives/ the chaos/ whatever. And then when the day comes, there are, of course, both good and bad things that occur. The bad things will fade away again, as they always seem to…. haha. But in those first days after the holiday I think I kind of mull over why it didn’t feel “perfect”!! I also love what you said about not expecting it to turn out perfect, or feeling like we can somehow really control that.


      1. Yes, yes, yes! To all of this. I sometimes miss the forest for the trees.
        I like all these traditions/flavours/experiences and yes they take a lot of work, but I think my issue is feeling like it should be different (as in – I should be able to provide all these experiences/do all these things and not feel at all tired by the level of responsibility it entails).
        Do I put a lot of thought into how to streamline things most efficiently? Absolutely and I enjoy that process. It’s not a bad thing to conduct a post-mortem after a major event and see what worked and what didn’t. But also accepting that the chaos is part of the…charm?…of the holidays.

        Again – loved this post!


  4. Your Christmas looks and sounds so cosy.

    I especially love to think about you in your cosy den space with the snow falling outside ๐Ÿ™‚

    I completely share your feelings of the built up still feeling busy and a little frantic, no matter how far in advance I start to plan it seems unavoidable!


  5. What a wonderful family Christmas, Kae. It all looks wonderful – and I think you remember, I first started commenting on your blog when I saw that picture of Ethan at the piano (and I told you that I own the exact same one – Yamaha – which is sitting at my parents’ house!).

    I also love that you have two readers on your hands! ๐Ÿ™‚


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