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  • Writer's picture Jana

Winter Holiday Break. Day 8 and Counting. Christmas Day at the Lieblich House!

After getting to bed around 12:30 last night, as I valiantly tried to compose yesterday's blog post, while falling asleep with my hands on the keyboard, I was a bit beleaguered this morning. We had a late night last night as Mommy underestimated how long the roast would take in the oven (did that happen to any of you?). Unlike you, I have no excuse after graduating from arguably, one of the top culinary schools in the world and cooking my entire life. If it makes you feel any better, poor kitchen timing happens to the best of us. However, since we didn't have anywhere to be this morning, except in front of the fire and Christmas tree, I tried not to stress about it.

Unlike yesterday, I decided to get in the shower first thing this morning before anyone or anything could stand in my way. My Christmas present to myself was going to be putting my oxygen mask on first before assisting those around me. Guess what? It worked! Those airlines know what they're talking about. My day went entirely differently, having had my morning shower (I even blew dry my hair and put on makeup!). That would be the equivalent of having my life vest/flotation device out and ready too, before impact. I was ready for the day!

As I was dressing after my shower, I had some pint-sized visitors in my closet. For some unexplained reason, the conversation quickly turned to private parts and gross toilet talk. I was particularly relieved that I had had my shower and was therefore feeling uncharacteristically patient. Nonetheless, I dressed as quickly as I could so we could exit my closet and close out this distasteful conversation, which felt especially outlandish first thing Christmas morning.

It worked. Once we got downstairs and in front of the Christmas tree, things improved. We sorted presents and began opening them. The kids already knew what to expect in at least some of their packages, since I let them choose their gifts. I have done this for a few years now and it seems to work out well. It sort of kills the Santa concept, but Garin took care of that for me years ago, so no worries there. I am the ultimate practical person, so I figure if I am going to spend money on gifts, pay to have them shipped to my home, and take lots of time to elaborately wrap them, I may as well make darn sure they're going to be well-received. So as unromantic as the concept may seem of giving the kids the toy catalogs in November with a brand new sharpie to circle what their hearts desire, it works out best. Besides, they still get the element of surprise with the gifts sent by friends. so it's the best of all worlds.

While they opened gifts, I slaved in the kitchen (again), making yet another holiday meal. Cook, clean-up, repeat...does that sound familiar to anyone during the holiday season? And that doesn't count the hours of clean-up after the mayhem of the present opening in the family room.

However, I draw the line at two meals a day, period. I only do brunch and dinner. If the kids can't make it in between, it is cheese and crackers; popcorn; fruit; or whatever else they can forage for in the refrigerator. Today I made an exception and made us big cups of hot cocoa with whipped cream in the late afternoon. Perfect!

It was a lovely day. We had leftovers from Christmas Eve for dinner, so I didn't have to cook again tonight. Admittedly, it wasn't the same as Christmases past, getting dressed up in our Christmas best and spending the evening with our dear friends, The Jacobs, but as Covid Christmases go, I would say we hit it out of the park.

The gang was ready to open their gifts!

Fitzy joined in the festivities.

The kids enjoying some of their new gifts. Tether ball sets, Harry Potter robes, archery sets, board games, books, pillows for their beds, etc. So much fun to be had!

After some of the presents were opened, we sat down for breakfast: Cinnamon rolls, oven-baked eggs (not pictured here because the kids ate them before I could get a shot), and a wonderful fruit salad.

Fitzy is always kind enough to help me with the dishes. What a thoughtful pug!

Look, it was nearly the same temperature in New York today as it was here. I can't recall the last time we had a Christmas that was cooler than 80 degrees. Rain and cold weather, what a cause for celebration!

Both Miles and Catherine gave me gifts. Catherine bought this sunflower ornament on a recent trip we took to Descanso Gardens, in their gift shop. She was thoughtful enough to pick it out in honor of my mom, since those were my mom's favorite flowers. Miles made me a homemade snowman and card at school. I was so overjoyed to receive their thoughtful gifts. Catherine was even thoughtful enough to pick out, order (pay for) and wrap individual gifts for all her brothers. I don't know anyone sweeter.

We had hot cocoa this afternoon. These were called Lil'Carl Mini Hot Chocolate Drinking Showmen. They were not only tasty, but so much fun for the kids. Thank you, once again, to the Mantooth family, for this delicious gift. We received other fun hot chocolate gifts as well that we're looking forward to sipping over the next several cold and rainy days.

When I was out in the garden today, I spotted this spectacular Flawless rose on a bush. It was one of the last (and prettiest, ironically) of the season, before I cut all the bushes back in the next few weeks, for the winter.

We never have anyone to take a family photo, so Garin was kind enough to set up the tripod so we could get all of us together. We had some "serious" photos as well, but who wants to see those?

The troops are ready for their next meal! Dinner at last.

We always set a place for my mom at the table on special occasions and holidays. It makes us happy to know she is there, in spirit, at least. But what is so painful for me is removing her place setting when I clean the table. Seeing that everything remains untouched is always a painful reminder of the hole her departure has left in our lives.

The gang is back in their pajamas and Santa hats after a long day of celebrating and only a few hours in regular clothing. After dinner and dessert we even had time for a little TV before heading upstairs to bed. Aside from a rather unpleasant midday skirmish between the kids over an indoor tetherball game, a good time was had by all!

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