Dec. 23: The family Fraulein makes its annual Christmas trip to the wilds of north Jersey, where we rendezvous with my high school crowd and assorted kids, relatives and friends at my friend Meaghan's Festivus party. Here, we each consume our own weight in hors d'oeuvres and homemade Christmas cookies. The Peanut spends much of the evening giving another toddler the stink-eye until said toddler relinquishes a certain toy shopping cart. Then the Peanut spends the rest of the party pushing the shopping cart around. Fun is had by all!
Dec. 24: My mother makes three of the seven fishes, as she has done on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. I eat my own weight in stuffed squid. The Peanut asks if we can look outside for Santa, so we go out to the porch and spy a plane moving overhead. "Look, there's the reindeer!" I announce. The Peanut is very excited. We leave out milk and cookies for the big guy before putting the Peanut to bed.
Dec. 25: Nearly all of the Peanut's presents appear under the tree wrapped in purple wrapping paper. She is nearly as thrilled by the bows--all of which she insists on keeping--as she is by the presents, especially her new double doll stroller. We exchange lots of Etsy presents. We attend Mass at the Catholic church where I went as a kid, and agree that Episcopal church is more lively. Later we go to dinner at the awesome Berta's and eat our own weight in everything. Then we come back and the Peanut enlists my dad to help her play with all her new toys.
Dec. 26: We return to Massachusetts and say bye-bye to the horrific fire hazard otherwise known as the live Christmas tree we bought the first weekend in December. I begin the several-months-long process of vacuuming up needles.
Dec. 29: At long last, we head to Best Buy to pick out a replacement for our (literally) 20-year-old TV. We buy a flat screen--the big gift Mr. Fraulein and I decide to give to each other this year--and the contrast between it and the old clunker television makes me feel as though we have spent the last several years sitting in our living room watching a cave man etch rough drawings on stone. We proceed to spend the next few days watching old DVDs to see what we've been missing. Turns out, it's a lot. Did you know that you can see little shimmering force fields emerging from the aurors' wands in the Department of Mysteries fight scene in "Order of the Phoenix"? Presumably you did if you have a relatively new TV.
Dec. 31: We don't have a babysitter and neither do any of our neighbors, so we invite people to come to us. Thanks to Trader Joe's and its awesome frozen party treats, we are able to make it look like we put some effort into the whole thing, which of course we didn't. The Peanut spends the evening bossing around a two-year-old boy and making crayon drawings with a 9-year-old boy. The grown-ups debate whether anyone's family is truly "functional." "My entire family is cripplingly dysfunctional!" announces one friend, waving a lemongrass chicken roll in the air for emphasis. "That's just how it is." I ask: "So are you saying that in 30 years, the Peanut is going to stand around saying what a pain in the ass I am?" "Sure she will," he responds. "Everyone at some point thinks their mother is a pain in the ass."
The children eat their own weight in cupcakes from Party Favors. (Before serving the two-year-old, I had asked his parents whether it was OK for him to have one. They said sure, as long as he asked politely. Like I was going to say no to a toddler with curly ringlets, pointing at the cupcakes and saying "Pweese?")
Jan. 1: I turn 39 and we head out into the freezing rain ("Daddy, turn off the weather!" the Peanut said) to check out the ice sculptures on the Boston Common, and to have lunch at Skipjack's. Then it was back to normal life after that.