When I was a kid, this was the week my mom took a deep breath before starting to sprint through the holiday season.
In addition to working in retail, my mom did extensive decoration of our home. She spent weeks thinking, planning and shopping before we finally put the decor up. Everything coordinated and matched right down to the wrapping paper on the gifts, which all had to be acquired.
When I got older, there were holiday parties to attend and the shopping for the dresses I would need for said events. I'm not going to go into the, um, let's say conversations, my mom and I had in fitting rooms during my teen years, I'll just say I don't think either of us have fond memories of those exchanges.
There was the family holiday portrait to schedule, plan what we were going to wear pose for, look at proofs, decide if we needed to re-take it and do all this according to a schedule to be sure the prints would arrive in time to be given to the grandparents.
And that's just Christmas, if we were hosting Thanksgiving there was the inviting, menu planning, assigning of dishes to be brought by family members and all the rest that goes with it.
If we were hosting the family Christmas Eve party, take all of the above stress and cube it. The cleaning alone was enough to knock anyone down, but my mom had to worry that if she told Cousin Stanley to bring wine for forty people he'd show up with one bottle of red and one bottle of white. Trust me when I say this was simply not enough vino for my German aunties and uncles.
After all of this was over there was the long term project of getting the smell of cigarettes out of the living room.
My mom used to smoke from just after Halloween until New Year's and I don't blame her.
However, at my house, things slow down after Halloween. We live equidistant from both sets of grandparents, we've mapped and the distance from our house to each grandparent's home is almost exactly the same. This year, none of us are traveling. We're staying home with the kids and the grandparents are all staying in their own states for various reasons. This leaves us on our own to have a low-key holiday season.
On Thanksgiving, I'll cook up a turkey breast, probably in my slow-cooker. My favorite part of Thanksgiving food tradition is the sandwiches, when family isn't coming in I make sandwiches for the turkey day meal. I'll pack them up with a pie and hot chocolate in a thermos, take everything down to the park and picnic. The first time we did this I was surprised at how many other families were taking their fall feast outside, I don't know why, it's outrageously pleasant why wouldn't more people do it?
Christmas Eve, we usually spend the evening with some friends who are also not having family in town and enjoy the lack of dashing through the streets. Scott and I will have port and stilton while we watch A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart after the kids have put out cookies, milk and carrots. Our hope is that will have gone to sleep by midnight so we can all get six hours of shut-eye.
Christmas Day it's the present orgy followed by brunch with other friends and their children. We have something of a tradition going with some excellent friends who live close by. They come over with their children for french toast, bacon and mimosas. The kids play with their new toys, the grown-ups have coffee and discuss what happened that morning, it's all very lovely and we enjoy ourselves very much.
The down-side to all this, is that I have no excuse to not have all the laundry done. I should go start on that.
Amanda's beauty tip of the day: If you usually use a cleanser for break-out prone skin but find it too drying during the winter, switch to Cetaphil for the colder months.