Well, the kids have started back to school which officially marks the end of the Christmas season. For me, today signals the start of 2017, so in the quiet of an empty house it’s fitting that I should take some time to reflect. Perhaps not to make resolutions per se, but to assess the past in order to learn from our mistakes. And oh boy, did we make some mistakes. Luckily, I’m a blogger dedicated to having a little fun with failure, so maybe we didn’t screw up as much as gained writing material. Either way, listen up lovelies, as I share with you the three lessons I learned this Christmas season.
1) Spoil yourself, so you can spoil others
Looking out for Number 1 isn’t always a selfish endeavour. Sometimes it’s investing in yourself so you have the resources to invest in others. There should be zero guilt in occasionally splurging on those shoes, stealing time just for yourself, or sneaking that extra cookie, because Cractpots, we’re worth it! While I am very good at giving advice, I struggle remembering to take it, but happily, life decided to be a little more obvious this year.
One of our Christmas traditions is to take a day to bake cookies to have on hand to distribute as needed during the rest of the holiday hoopla.
Forgotten teacher gift? Bam, Christmas Cookies.
Surprise guests? Don’t worry, Christmas Cookies!
Our dog escaped again and you almost ran him over but managed to swerve last minute and plow into a snowbank instead? Er…I’m so sorry/thank you/please don’t hate us/Christmas Cookies?
You get the idea.
We make the same three recipes every year and have it down to an art. When everything was said and done, the house smelled of vanilla, chocolate and freshly baked cookies and the kids all drooled and begged for a taste. I swatted away hands and distributed wooden spoons and bowls to lick instead and saved the cookies for gifts. I had forgotten the first rule of Christmas, but for the rest of the week, we happily handed out cookies like rock stars bestowing autographs. Reality came crashing down on Christmas Eve when I finally brought out our plate of cookies only to find that one of the recipes had somehow taken a wrong turn and tasted like soap. I still don’t know if we measured out the baking powder in tablespoons instead of teaspoons, or if possibly baking powder could go bad? I do know that it was a bitter pill (cookie)to swallow to have to spend our Christmas morning making phone calls; “Merry Christmas! Please don’t eat the cookies” Embarrassment aside, I can tell you I have learned my lesson. From here on in, I will eat the cookie.
2) Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Family
Christmas time, is family time. We decorate the house as a family. We make gifts as a family. We give board games as presents and play as a family. Still, although technology can distract from what’s important, an unplugged Christmas would affect more than just the lights on the tree in the Cractpot household.
We sing along to Christmas carols that play on our phones. We watch Christmas movies as a family that we find on Netflix. We take a Christmas picture and then use our computers to photo shop Christmas greetings into the frame to spread cheer across our social media platforms.
Technology isn’t just a part of our traditions, it’s almost a theme when it comes to gift giving. We have tried to teach our kids to earn their rewards but when your preteen wants an IPod with nothing but a paper route to raise funds, it takes approximately a year and a half of saving. Thankfully, Santa stepped in with each child and on their 11th Christmas, donated an IPod to the cause. This year, the youngest finally joined the ranks of electronics owners, so family members spoiled the entire family with Amazon Echo’s Alexa. Alexa is the voice service that allows you, among other things, to stream music, control your smart home devices, and get the weather wirelessly with the power of your voice. We were all excited to get synced but Mr Cractpot, the most tech savvy of all of us, started, while the kids distracted themselves with their other gifts, and I worked on Christmas dinner. Eventually, he got her up and running and we allowed ourselves to be distracted for almost an hour while we asked Alexa the meaning of life, “the traditional answer is 42“. Groaned as our 11 year old got her to tell us jokes, “Alexa has recently decided to sell her vacuum cleaner. All it does is gather dust” and played a few rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. Eventually I broke up the fun and herded everyone over to the kitchen table for dinner. My parents, my brother, my sister in law, and all, crowded around the table and in true Cractpot fashion everyone was talking at once as we ate, drank and made merry while debating everything from politics to Kurt Cobain conspiracy theories. In the midst of it all, we heard a sound that at first, I thought might have been coming from my daughter’s phone. As I started to admonish her for having tech at the table, it became obvious that what we were listening to was not appropriate viewing material for a teenager. As the volume got louder, and the content more graphic the realization dawned across the table that Alexa was streaming the soundtrack of a sexual encounter and I struggled to shout, “Alexa stop” loud enough that she could hear me over my brother’s howls of laughter. As I stumbled to unplug her, and the youngest Cractpot asked the red faced teenage Cractpot, “What was wrong with her?” Mr. Cractpot wandered back into the kitchen from the bathroom where he had disappeared with his phone only moments before. Regardless of his claim that an old friend sent him a link that he opened with no idea of it’s content, we have decided it’s probably best to keep phones out of the bathroom from here on in. As well, for the rest of the holidays, whenever Mr. Cractpot had to use the facilities he was asked if he was going to watch porn which made for an interesting week.
3) Keep Reading (even if it’s just instructions)
As a self admitted book-o-holic you would think this would be an easy one for me to remember, but even the best of us skip a few steps in the midst of a long and stressful season. As a lover of fashion accessories, and a craver of comfort and cozy-ness, I was thrilled to be given a muff that promised to heat up and stay warm for up to 6 hours. Previously I had been given hand warmers that I microwaved and tucked into my mittens but this was taking it to the next level and adding a little vintage style to my winter look. When my brother invited us to skate on his outdoor rink I was super excited to test out my gift and in the midst of finding the skates, making sure they all still fit, finding everyone matching mittens and packing extra socks, I chucked my handy little fashion statement into the microwave and nuked it for 2 minutes (the same amount of time I usually heat our other rice filled heat packs). Within 30 seconds of pressing start and walking away, middle Cractpot starts screeching, “FIRE, FIRE!” and true enough as I crashed back into the kitchen, the inside of the microwave was engulfed in flames and as I pressed stop, I tried to figure out what the heck had happened. Better late than never, I perused the instructions and discovered the hand warmer was battery operated. Interesting fact, batteries do not fair well with radiation. When we finally made it to my brother’s house, youngest explained that we were late because Mum’s muff was on fire. It’s a sign of a rough holiday season when he just looks at you and says, “I know you’re trying to compete with porn these days, but you need to be careful, you’re not a young as you use to be”
And that my lovelies pretty much sums up my New Years resolutions for the year. I’m sure as we move forward we will continue to find ourselves in predicaments that require adding new ones to the list, so stay tuned and I promise to keep you posted on all that we learn. Happy 2017 to you all. May the year be filled with successes and failures you can learn from, but most of all, fun.
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves ~Bill Vaughan (1915–1977), in The Kansas City Star