Ah, Christmas morning. That wondrous time, where your home is beautiful, your gifts are perfect and gratefully received, your kids are well behaved and everything goes as it should. Right?
Not at my house. I actually think Christmas morning as a mom can be kinda stressful. Maybe it’s the pressure we put on ourselves to have that glossy, holiday magazine perfection.
Your best tool to ensure that you’re not a stress ball on Christmas morning is a “go with the flow attitude.” I know. Stop laughing.
Ok, two things you can do that really may help:
1) Think ahead about how things will go from the minute the kids wake up (early!):
- Who is sitting where to open gifts? Does everyone have a comfortable place with plenty of space to move? Make sure this is decided beforehand, as kids love to argue over this kind of thing.
- Where are the bags to collect the gift wrapping as it’s ripped off the presents? Get them out and have them ready.
- Where’s your camera? Is it charged up?
- Are you and your significant other on the same page about whether or not you’ll allow the kids to get into the gifts they receive? As in, can Little Jill open the new beading set she just received or does she need to wait until a later time? If so, when? Talk this through beforehand, I can’t tell you how many fights I’ve seen start over this very thing.
- If the kids get candy in their stockings, are they allowed to eat it right then? Again, get on the same page here.
- What are you going to wear? Have you dug out your cutest Christmas PJs? I know you have. You know you want lots of photos, which brings us to:
- Are you going to put make up on before you let the kids go see what Santa brought them? You laugh, but I remember several Christmas mornings waiting anxiously for my mom to get her “face” on. I don’t care about this personally, but some people do. It bears planning in advance. Again, another place where fights can ensue. And nothing ruins Christmas morn like fighting between Mom and Dad.
2) Make breakfast ahead of time so you can just pop it into the oven while you’re opening gifts. I love to make gooey cinnamon rolls. My good friend Jennifer makes a delicious apple cake and has graciously shared her recipe:
Apple Cake2 cups of sugar (try a mix of white and brown sugar)1 cup of vegetable oil2 eggs*3 cups of flour (either white or whole wheat or a mixture of the two works well)1 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt2 tsp cinnamon3 cups diced, peeled apples (more or less…and don’t worry about the kind of apple–this recipe is forgiving)1 cup chopped walnuts or pecansPut all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with your hands.(OK, if you can’t stand the thought of gunking up your hands, you can use a spoon. You know who you are. But really, here’s your chance to live a little on the wild side.)Leave it all lumpy on top in the pan.Bake at 350 to 375 in an ungreased 9×13 inch pan for about an hour. I give a temperature range because I like to cook more than one thing in my oven at a time, even if the second item is just some potatoes. (If you have pre-baked potatoes on hand, you’ve got an easy basis for a quick lunch.)
Cuts better when it’s cool, but if you serve hot it’s great with vanilla ice cream.
* To make it eggless (and vegan), use 2 tbsp of ground flax + 4 tbsp water as an egg substitute.
Let’s all vow to one another that we’ll try as hard as we can to let the morning unfold as it wants to, rather than the way we think it needs to go. This is hard stuff for us, but necessary. The best family memories happen spontaneously, so let’s take a deep breath, put down our mental lists and let Christmas happen.
Have a great holiday, Penelopes. I’ll see you after the New Year.
Posted originally on Dec 23, 2009. Updated for Christmas 2013, photo above includes my darling 2 yo, Jackson.
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