Sunday morning we had the upstairs neighbours over for our now-annual Yule waffle brunch and small gift exchange. Blade and I were still in fine form from the party the night before and snarked all morning, amusing ourselves terribly. The boy got a Lego tow truck kit from them and decided that I should be the one to assemble it. I don’t work with Lego very often because I simply don’t think in three-dimensional block form very well, but give me a kit with instructions and I’m fine. They gave me a lovely Celtic knot print in my favourite autumnal earthy colours, and a sampling of Saxon chocolates, including my favourite sea salt caramels!
The local grandparents arrived just past ten-thirty for our early Christmas celebration. The boy was very patient for all of ten minutes, so we settled down and started opening presents. He’s at the age where he can actually appreciate each gift he opens again, instead of just enthusiastically opening things left, right, and centre. There weren’t as many gifts as there usually are, for which was very thankful. Part of this is due to the fact that we didn’t have both sets of our parents here, so the floor around the tree wasn’t as crowded as usual, but part of it was that we were all pretty restrained this year. We gave HRH’s dad a movie, and his mom a hand-knitted scarf, and Liam got a camera of his very own, which he began using right away, taking some very respectable pictures of his favourite ornaments on the tree.
The big hit, though, and the present we saved for last, was the early gift that Santa brought him: the racetrack he’d asked for when he saw Santa at the mall. (I knew HRH’s parents had bought him something from the Cars line of toys, so I pinged his mom to see if that’s what they’d gotten, and it was, so we were all covered. Bless them.) A very close second was Anakin’s Clone Wars starfighter, which went to bed with him for both nap and overnight.
HRH and I both got wallets (with money inside, hurrah!) and socks (it amuses me that when you get socks as a kid you’re let down, but as an adult you’re thrilled because it’s one less necessity you have to buy). I got a lovely plum-coloured knitted wrap that’s just gorgeous and so very soft.
My best gift, hands-down, though, was this:
It’s HRH’s newest painting in his Celtic Totems series. My office smells like oil paint, as it was still a wee bit tacky when HRH brought it up for me. (Kudos to Blade, who improvised a nice cover the other day when I was downstairs in the basement office and said, “Hey, it smells like varnish or something down here.” “Oh, I accidentally hit the button on one of my spray paints,” he said. Apparently when I’d left HRH looked at him and said, “Smooth. Thanks.”)
While everyone else played with the toys and nibbled on the various seafood and other hors d’ouevres that HRH’s parents had brought, I started getting food going. I’d brined the turkey the night before, and had realised while falling asleep that I didn’t have enough bread with which to make stuffing. I made a batch in the breadmaker as soon as I got up, a whole wheat/herb quick bread that I shredded and toasted in the oven when it was ready. In retrospect I shouldn’t have toasted it into croutons, because the whole wheat bread was already drier than white. I mixed up the stuffing and put half in the bird, and half in a baking dish, then put the turkey in the oven. Then I mixed up pie dough, because I was short a pie shell thanks to the previous day’s disaster, and had the worst time trying to get it to stick together. I kept adding ice water and it just wouldn’t cling. Eventually I squeezed it together and put it in the freezer to cool off a bit before rolling it out and mixing up the pecan pie filling. And then I discovered that unlike the little aluminium plates that prepared pie shells come in, my metal pie tin doesn’t fit in the oven next to the roasting tray, so I had to take the turkey out to blind-bake the shell for twenty minutes. I couldn’t afford the next half-hour it would take to bake the pie entirely, though, so a quick phone call confirmed that the neighbours were fine with us borrowing their oven, and HRH went upstairs with it. I set our timer to remind us to go get it when it was ready. The bird went back in the oven, was ready around quarter past four, and HRH carved it for me while I made the gravy. I heated up my mother in law’s excellent special mashed potatoes in the oven as well as baking the other half of the stuffing (which turned out to be unneeded on the table), and parboiled carrots before frying them in butter and doing a quick maple syrup glaze. And then we all feasted, feasted, feasted! The pecan pie was lovely, even though some of the filling managed to work its way through the shell and caramelize on the bottom. A soft dollop of whipped cream balanced it nicely.
Somehow, I completely forgot to make rolls to go with dinner. Didn’t even think about them in the overall meal plan.
After his grandparents left, there was a bath for the boy, the second chapter of Prince Caspian, and then bed. He woke up for no particular reason around ten while I was in the bath, although I didn’t find out till I checked on him between bath and bed. I cuddled him back to sleep, and fell asleep myself. A very full day, and forgetting to eat properly in the middle of it was not a good thing. Apart from that, though, it was wonderful. We are so blessed to have close friends and family with whom to celebrate the season. And the celebrating has only just begun!