Monday, January 7, 2019

A Mac n' Cheese Christmas

In the words of my toddler, "Happy Merry Christmas!"

The liturgical season of Christmas doesn't end until the Baptism of the Lord, which is on January 13 this year-so we still have this full week to continue our festive celebrations! I have been thoroughly enjoying myself. It's been a peaceful, fun, relaxed, and joyous Christmas.

Advent was uncomfortable for me this year. Yes, there are cozy happy memories of reading and praying by the light of the Advent wreath, our house filling with people as we drank tea and ate sugary treats to kick off the liturgical new year, and getting together with friends to bake and/or eat cookies. But there are also grim memories. As Advent began, I wrote a piece on the Advent journey. That theme, of a journey into an uncomfortable desert, remained with me the entire season-it really did feel like a "little Lent" in some ways. So, as December 24 dawned, I was really excited to celebrate Christ's birth :)  

Plus, this year was the first time that we went to our parish here in Oklahoma for Christmas Mass-and it was the first time in several years that we spent Christmas Eve at home. We decided to attend the 5 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve, and naturally the church was standing-room-only when we got there half an hour early. The ushers kept trying to get me to squeeze into a pew, since I had the baby, but I stubbornly refused since I wanted to sit with my husband and toddler. Finally, right before Mass began, I relented when the usher found seats in two pews that were somewhat close to each other (as soon as I sat down, I was grateful that we had seats haha). 
My husband had the brilliant idea that we would make gift-giving simple by purchasing hundreds 
of Cow Tales to divide between our siblings and parents. It was really random, but everyone seemed to like them :) 

Towards the beginning of Mass, a movement from the side aisle caught my eye and I looked over to see our toddler confidently marching towards the nativity scene at the front of church by himself, saying something about "go see shepherd!!" Needless to say, I grabbed him as he walked past my pew, and he happily spent the rest of Mass travelling back and forth between my husband and I. Mass was wonderful, the music was amazing (we have a really talented organist, and the choir did chant and sang some gorgeous hymns), and on top of that, there was no weird stuff thrown in to make the Mass "kid-friendly." This beautiful liturgy was the perfect way to jump into Christmastime! 

After Mass, we feasted on a dinner that my husband made: the best macaroni & cheese I have eaten in my life, with bacon on the side (he tweaked the recipe by adding about 1/2 c. white wine and he used smoked gruyere instead of Romano cheese). For dessert, we ate strawberry cheesecake bars. Then, we decorated the Christmas tree, hung out, and watched "Home Alone as a Silent Film." I also washed all the dishes in the sink so I could have a clean kitchen for Christmas day, and I prepped waffle dough. The next day, we had a leisurely morning (our toddler didn't get up until about 9, since we had a late bedtime the night before) with liege waffles-topped with Nutella-and, of course, more bacon ;) We enjoyed our stockings, opened presents, and then threw some clothes in the car and hit the road for Kansas! 

What looks strange about this scene? 

As my husband said, "It's like a butcher shop.
Poor little elf. 

We stayed with my parents for a couple days, eating delicious food, playing loads of board games (we may have stayed up until 2 a.m. one night while playing Machi Koro...), and hanging out. My parents graciously babysat the toddler while the rest of us went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet (crude humor aside, I really enjoyed the movie-it was entertaining, funny, and had a great message about boundaries in friendship), and I caught up with a couple of friends from high school. 

Months ago, I planned to get a bamboo steamer and finally got around to buying one!
We came back home for some relaxation, a friend's baby got baptized, and we rang in the New Year by getting destroyed by the AI at Carcassonne. Then, on  New Year's Day, some of my siblings came down to spend some more time with us! So, we dove into more games, more macaroni & cheese, and my husband made Rootleaf Stew (it's from Star Wars). The next day, two of them went back to Kansas and one of them stayed with us for a couple more days before heading off to spend his last remaining days of vacation with a friend who lives in town. 
We celebrated the Epiphany by making daifuku--they didn't look pretty but they 
were fun to make and yummy to eat :) Then, we watched My Neighbor Totoro-our toddler
had never seen it, and laughed loudly as soon as the opening credits began ;) 
As I sit here, I am very sleep deprived, full of sugar, and very happy. It was so nice to spend time with family and friends and to also have time for our own little family to relax and celebrate by ourselves at home. It was also a lot of fun to play TONS of games, too (in addition to Machi Koro, we played Codenames, Incan Gold, Carcassonne, Innovation, Chicago Express, Tichu, Sushi Go, and the Civilization computer game). We ate loads of mac n' cheese (Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, and Epiphany) since we had the ingredients and it's delicious (basically like eating fondue with a little bit of macaroni). On top of all that, we happened to get some bad weather on the day that my husband was supposed to go back to work, so he got to stay at home for an extra day-and-a-half, which was awesome :) 

There were several snowmen in our neighborhood, so we went with a fort. 
It's been a delightful season, and as we start sliding back into more quiet "normal life," I'm excited to see what else will come along. I hope that you all have a peaceful continuation of the Christmas season!


  1. Happy rest of the Christmas season, AnneMarie! Sounds like the best kind of festivities full of family, friends, food, and lots of sugar :-)

  2. Happy New Year! Glad that you were able to spend time with your family and that it was a joyous end to the year that has past!