The 12 Days of Christmas!

Now that all my “scheduled” posts have been released, let me write my first post in real-time in 2022. 

Christmas is still very much a part of our home life as my husband and I, along with many others worldwide, countdown the 12 days of Christmas. I’m kind of ashamed to say that, until several years ago, I thought the 12 days of Christmas were pre-December 25th. While attending a private Catholic university, I learned that I’d been wrong my whole adult life. The 12 days of Christmas begin on December 25th and end on January 5th (the 12th day), with the Epiphany on January 6th. There is more information about this here and here. Once I learned this, I then explained to my husband, who also had never known this, why our Christmas celebrations would now end after January 5th. 

Growing up, we did not count down the days or celebrate the epiphany, and if it was mentioned in church, I wasn’t paying attention. Yes, we sang the song associated with this celebration, but I never understood its real meaning. Even before this revelation, we always left Christmas up until January 5th. Our traditions were established long before social media began to decide for the masses when Christmas “happened,” and then was “over.” Traditions are very important to me. They really provide a sense of stability and are a central and fundamental part of my life and an important part of my sobriety. Much of what I saw on social media this year and throughout the holidays was commercialism and consumerism. Christmas as I knew it as a kid has left the building. 

Year after year, I grasp hold of memories of Christmases gone by or my idea of Christmas crafted from childhood Christmases, and I create two special weeks for my husband, myself, and friends. On the internet, and in the lives of many influenced by social media, Christmas starts three weeks before Halloween (pumpkins came and went early) and ends on Christmas Day. From December 21st on, all I heard was a lot of wishing for the holidays to be over. That’s sad. Social media has really changed how people look at holidays, vacations, and well, everything. 

By December 27th, social media was already gearing up for spring stuff. So, in case you missed it, we are to be cleaning, organizing, painting our walls white, throwing everything out and buying everything new, and loading up on faux plants and flowers until the real ones are for sale. Sigh.

I saw this Natural Life chirp on Facebook this morning and love it!

In my little world, our tree is still lit, our Christmas lights are still glowing, there are two Christmas movies I still want to watch, and at least a half dozen cookies have yet to be eaten. I’m probably the most organized person I know, and in no way does my tree, its ornaments, or Christmas cookies make my home dirty, full of clutter, or disorganized. If you purchased my guide, you know that my new year starts in the early fall of the previous year, so I’ve been planning and organizing 2022 since September 2021. I’m already all set up for tax time, and again, all things Christmas in our home aren’t getting in my way at all. On January 7th or 8th, we’ll begin the ritual of taking down the tree and storing all of our things until Christmas comes again.

This Christmas we had a Christmas Eve dinner, just the two of us, and I made ham, scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts, corn, homemade dinner rolls, and two salads for dessert. The days leading up to Christmas Eve were a bit hectic. I’ll explain. First, end of year work for a CPA is never-ending, so there was that. I also sell items online, and from just shortly after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve, I sold 373 items. I was quite literally fulfilling orders in the afternoon of Christmas Day to be shipped on 12/26. And just in case you think I let consumerism take me over, I didn’t. I purposely left my items up for sale vs. pausing them because many, many people who are alone on Christmas buy themselves something special on the day. I know this because they told me this. I’m not selling high end items, but rather sentimental collectibles we own. I’ve been selling on eBay for twenty years and, to this day, December 25th is still my busiest day. All proceeds go toward paying down my student loans, which gets us one step closer to moving to our forever home. Besides all the selling, I also took care of a friend for 11 days right before Christmas who was recovering from surgery. Along with caring for a friend, I single-handedly baked 60 dozen assorted cookies and gave away all but 3 dozen of them. Hubby and I also put in 18 hours of volunteering and re-organized my home office, taking 6 bags to Goodwill, so that our Christmas guests (2) had a room to sleep in. Whew, writing this out makes me wonder, as I often do, how on earth I managed to get this all done? 

On Christmas Day, we had four guests, and I served leftover ham, turkey, glazed carrots, roasted cauliflower and beets, homemade rolls, salad, stuffing, and Key lime pie for dessert. On New Year’s Eve, we had two friends over for BBQ ribs, chicken wings, roasted potatoes, pecan pie, and we played board games. Here’s something that is rarely talked about anymore: gifts. Besides world peace and more kindness everywhere, I asked for books and movies. It’s what I always ask for–here’s what I got:

My husband wanted clothing and a couple of movies. For our household between my birthday and Christmas, we bought several kitchen appliances from Drew Barrymore’s Beautiful line. I’ve been using makeup from her makeup line forever and LOVE all of it. We spent $100.00 on each other and $175.00 on a Dutch oven, an air fryer, and an 8-qt. slow-cooker. We got the money for all of our gifts from a garage sale we had in the summer of 2021. We also purchased Christmas ornaments, antiques for friends, and kitchen gadgets for the hubby’s stocking at local stores and bought crafts from local churches.

Here is a great recipe for the Galette des Rois (in my blog post photo). Happy 12th Day of Christmas, the eve of Epiphany.

Just to add it in—we felt pretty fortunate that we were able to entertain this year. We definitely planned it all out —those we had over are remote workers who have been vaccinated. We all tested negative before getting together, and we all tested negative days and weeks after being together. I’ve made a point of not sharing too much of my feelings on COVID, but will say that staying healthy and COVID-free has really taken an enormous amount of work, money, sacrifice, social distancing, and masking on our part. No matter your feelings on what I’ve said about what we’ve done–it has worked thus far for us.

There’s really not much more I want to say about it, but I will speak of the money, work, and sacrifices we’ve made to keep us safe. Money: we have had to purchase all of my husband’s PPE. We have also purchased our own masks for private use. We paid for our booster shots because when we went to get them, the county nurse said we were six days early, and when we said we’d come back in a week, we were told she wasn’t going to open this particular booster for two shots. So we had to fill out forms and include all of our insurance information so Walgreen’s could charge a fee to our insurance company for our booster. Our sacrifices are mainly personal—travel, going out to dinner, movie theaters, though I will say we’ve done without a lot because we haven’t qualified for any of the relief money, thankfully we both still have our jobs, and none of my student loans are federal so–no pause on any of my loans. We’ve also spent money protecting ourselves that should have gone on debt or in savings. We’ve always been socially distant as we are those people that don’t like to get sick. Neither of us likes to have colds or the flu, so we stay away from people in general during sick season. Masks have been a big thing. Regardless of the debate, as a former healthcare professional, I know they work. Simply put, if they didn’t work at all, why would health professionals wear gloves and masks during procedures/doctor visits/surgery? Many of the things I’ve done in healthcare required me to wear a mask. I am probably one of the biggest proponents of freedom I know, having spent time in jail many years ago. I have never, nor would I ever, give someone the side-eye or talk badly about them choosing not to mask up or get a vaccine. I may not agree with them, but they would never know that about me. Since we started wearing masks, I’ve been spit on, coughed on numerous times, had people cut in line blatantly and then act up, been called names, laughed at and mocked, and gotten dirty looks—dozens of them each time we go out. I live in a state that just recently had the designation of having the most COVID cases. In that state, I live in the county with the most COVID cases out of 72 counties. We have a small hospital with about a dozen beds that have been nearly full or full for almost 16 months. Other local hospitals are full, and bigger city hospitals are not accepting transfers between hospitals anymore. The demographic for this area with the most deaths right now is females aged 55-75. I am 57. Besides a handful of friends, we know no one who hasn’t been sick with COVID. I know at least 30 people who have died from COVID and have lost two close friends to it. My husband and I are all each other has and I’m the only person our cat will eat for–neither one of us wants to die alone in a hospital. It could happen to either one of us. Yes, I think of these morbid possibilities often.

I’ll take the loss of my personal freedoms, even if it means being laughed at and coughed on, if it means we live another day. I say this as a vaccinated person because, even vaccinated, I am 57. I smoked for 25 years, drank heavily for a decade, and I’ve also had health issues over the years. My husband has bad allergies and scar tissue on his lungs. It would be really scary if he got sick. So, we do what we do, and that’s where we are right now.

And oh ya, I’m still enjoying Christmas over here.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

Christmas Morning Breakfast & A Scrumptious Savory Galette!

We usually do grapefruit, toast, and cereal. If I’m being honest. Because by December 20th, I’m worn out from work, shopping, wrapping, baking, hauling food, volunteer work, ordering things online and tracking them down, and oh yes–did I happen to say cooking. I won’t even have enough energy to prep something to just throw in the oven. Besides, is it just me or do breakfast casseroles just look gross? Dried bread crumbs mixed with eggs and leftovers. No thanks.

I digress.

I do like a good omelet or this broccoli and cheese galette that I’ve been dreaming about since September..

https://www.seriouseats.com/savory-broccoli-and-cheese-galette

I’m definitely making this for New Year’s Day.

I also love having breakfast for dinner. Tonight we had a real favorite of mine :

French toast made with maple and brown sugar bread- Yum!

So back to Christmas morning and traditions–it’s always fruit (orange and grapefruit, cereal, toast and jam, and hot coffee). I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, but rather at the respectable hour of 9:00 am sharp lol. Our stockings have oranges and chocolate in them. At midnight of Christmas Eve, which is now officially Christmas morning, we unwrap one gift, and then we go to bed to whisper stories to each other about our childhood Christmases past. Christmas morning is all about being together, having a good breakfast, letting our cat play with his new toys, and then eventually opening our gifts to one another. Soon after we get up, shower, get dressed, and start to get things ready for guests. Some years we’ve volunteered on Christmas day, but not for the last three years have we done this.

Christmas dinner is almost always ham and turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, glazed carrots, stuffing, homemade rolls, a pickle tray, fruit and cheese board, and mincemeat and pecan pie. Christmas day is time spent with my husband, sometimes a friend or two, a dear family member and usually his partner. This year we will have two friends who would otherwise be alone on Christmas and a family member and his friend. We will eat, play board games, listen to classical music, and have too much pie and candy.

New Year’s eve will find us watching as many James Bond movies as we can–hopefully the newest one this year, me fixing the best darn charcuterie board I can muster up, and bed shortly after our midnight kiss. New Year’s Day I will be fixing that yummy broccoli and cheese galette, and a banket (homemade almond roll pastry), and maybe layered pistachio dessert this year?

All our Christmas movies watched ✅

Gingerbread made ✅

Sugar Cookies made ✅

Chocolate Mint bars made ✅

Shortbread made ✅

Cranberry made ✅

Guest room ready ✅

Stockings hung ✅

Gifts wrapped ✅

House clean ✅

We’re almost ready. All that is left to do is drop our gifts off for the 3 families we adopted this year, one last grocery shop, and flowers for my tables. Our Christmas guests will be here before we know it and the day..well that’s just around the corner.

To all my friends and followers out there–be safe, be well, and enjoy the day if you celebrate it, and I’ll see you right away January 2022!