It's a Wonderful Life

Normally, It IS a Wonderful Life

We were set to have a quiet Christmas – just the four of us.  Our local family was out of town and, being our last Christmas in this house, our kids really wanted to stay home instead of going to Bend, Oregon to be with cousins.  To respect their wishes we decided to stay home.

We would have a simple Christmas – get outside for some fresh, seasonal air followed by a nice turkey dinner (Tiffany would cook a whole turkey for only the second time ever).  We’d listen to Christmas carols while spending some family time together. Our expectations were picturesque; so sweet they would give you a toothache.  Then…

We got sick. That exhausting, no motivation, on edge and frustrated, kind of sick.  Blech.

Not the flu (thank goodness), but head colds, etc.

At Christmas.

With kids who had their own image of how Christmas would be.

Expectations, meet Reality.

Christmas Eve Expectation:  A yummy Christmas Eve dinner and board games with the boys.

Christmas Eve Reality: Christmas Eve of terrible crock pot potato soup – it tasted somewhat of feet, we think (we couldn’t taste a thing…so maybe it smelled of feet.  Either way…feet it was).  Pinterest fail! No board games, either.  In fact, in our weakened state, we thought it a good idea to sit on the couch and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – with 9 & 10 year old boys.  A classic, but not as funny as we remember, and a couple of scenes that made us want to create a distraction.  Yeah…our judgment was a bit off. Hopefully no permanent damage done.


Christmas Breakfast Expectation: Delicious (and premade) Christmas morning breakfast.  Tiffany made the spinach frittata on Christmas Eve, and prepared the overnight pull-apart cinnamon-sugar sticky buns. All we had to do was wake-up, warm-up, and enjoy!

Christmas Breakfast Reality:  The potatoes in the frittata were undercooked.  The spinach was picked around.  Also, the sticky bun recipe failed to warn us that the gooey, sugary syrup would not fully absorb into the dough and, when you invert the pan before serving as directed, would pour out all over your counter, legs and floor.  Some of the dough balls were still raw, too.  We’re thinking we might have an oven problem.  At least the coffee was good.   Pinterest 2, Tiffany 0.


Christmas Day Expectation: Enjoying the boys’ gifts with them.  For example, they received Swiss Army knives and the Wii Just Dance 4.  We pictured some outdoor “survival” play and a family dance party (without the knives).

Christmas Day Reality:  The boys loved their gifts (thankfully). They went outside to whittle with their new knives, unsupervised, and “E” promptly cut his finger.  Good thing some neighbor friends provided a Band-Aid.  We were napping/recuperating…and not to be bothered.   The dance party didn’t happen.  Instead our boys vigorously danced the afternoon away while we draped ourselves on the sofa watching and becoming nauseous at the graphics.


We Kind of Felt Like This Tree


Christmas Dinner Expectation:  Cook a wonderful turkey dinner, including creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing and veggies.  Recipes were poised and the turkey thawed.

Christmas Dinner Reality:  Brining a turkey in a 5-gallon bucket? We didn’t have the energy.  We were going to break-out the Top Ramen we got as stocking stuffers when the Band-Aid friend from above came through again…sending us ham, yummy mashed potatoes, corn, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  These weren’t even their leftovers – they hadn’t eaten yet!   Good thing our boys had some surrogate parents on Christmas as we were worthless (and that ham was seriously delicious!).


There’s one part of Christmas that went as planned.  Sick or healthy, we were keeping Christmas simple this year.

Our gift giving/receiving mantra was…”If we can’t take it around the world, we don’t want it.”  The Wii game was an exception and our boys were so.flipping.happy.  Their reaction made that exception totally worthwhile.  Tiffany gave herself (on behalf of Ben) a scarf and book about traveling with kids (Family on the Loose).  In fact, one benefit of being sick at Christmas was laying down reading (and sleeping) for a few days.  She finished the book in no time – and thoroughly recommends it!  So our kids could see their parents exchange gifts, Ben received a bottle of wine (from our existing stash); a last minute, medicine-head kind of decision.  So now our boys just think we are wine crazy.

Much as we love the generosity of friends and family (and they remained generous), it was so nice not acquiring more stuff this Christmas.  Clean-up was easier, and not needing to find a place to put it all is refreshing.  One less thing to think about while we recovered from the throes of our colds.

Feeling much better now, we did engage in a dance-off a few nights ago.  Kids won 3/5 rounds. We think we did pretty well though, considering it was our first time.  We were weak, and the boys had five full days of practice on us.  We’ll get ’em next time.

Despite the illness, our Christmas was truly blessed.

We spent the days together – used tissues and all. While we’re looking forward to catching up on some of those lofty expectations, the purpose of this blog is to record our efforts to “Embrace uncertainty. Gain perspective.”   We did both this Christmas!

FYI…the turkey has still not been cooked. Although we are feeling better, Tiff preheated the oven only to find smoke billowing out, apparently caused by boiled over sticky bun syrup on the bottom of the oven.  Pinterest 3, Tiffany 0.  Like our dance off, we’ll get ’em next time.

We hope you had a healthier and wonderful holiday!


  1. Becky Sassy Pants Martin

    Tiffany – you ROCK!! I really enjoyed reading this!

  2. Thanks for stopping by Becky! Glad you enjoyed our pain – lol! :)

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