Recipe for a Happy Christmas; for everyone?

Hi there.
By now Saint Nicholas will be putting his feet up having delivered his last parcel somewhere over the pacific.
The little hammies are settled if not asleep in their beds and I have time to reflect and regret how the day went.
After spending 360 days maintaining that we would do Christmas our way, to suit our kids, I went and weakened at the last minute and committed to meeting up with the in-laws on the day.
Not to Christmas dinner of course. We managed to eliminate that nightmare of being stuck behind a table groaning with food and panicking as the little hammies potentially messed with cigarette lighters, full on caffeine soft drinks, caramels and doors left unlocked. Feeling dreadful having to climb over everyone to confiscate caffeine and caramels; but never actually getting the message across that we needed to sit where we could get up from the table easily.
Following the feast there would be a similar conflict as by now someone would have lit the open the open fire meaning one of us would need to stand guard like a goalie at an Irish International, while the other attempted to clean up the small mountain of leftovers and help with the dishes.

By this time the entertainment possibilities of a house with only one t.v., and no computers would be exhausted and the kids would be looking to go home to their laptops and wireless broadband. Portable DVD players need to be supervised and only entertain for so long.
And all this without the softening affects of alcohol as one of us has to drive.

Asking our kids to take on that much strain while in an unfamiliar environment for one day every year was too much for all of us; so for the last 3 years we have stayed home.

Now before you ask;Yes, we could have offered to cook the Christmas lunch ourselves and invited the family to our house. And here it would be perfect as the junior hammies would have all their own electronic entertainment at their fingertips and their own bedrooms to retreat to when things get too much. But there isn't the remotest possibility of such an offer being accepted. The older generation are much too set in their ways to accept food that might be prepared differently, or served in the wrong order. And for my own sake I couldn't bear to match the amount of waste involved with the turkey/ham dinner. I also couldn't put up with any complaining that we eat organic chicken with green beans and new potatoes instead of turkey cooked for 8 hours, boiled brussel sprouts and four kinds of potato.

So we broke away. We do our own thing, open our family presents, go for a walk and when it gets dark cook our dinner together, over a glass of chilled champagne.

But, as I said; breaking away means getting pulled back. Both by our own guilt and a sense that Christmas should be about the family, the extended family getting together.
I get caught up in other peoples expectations "what are you doing for the Christmas?" I should be proud to say; "well, exactly what we want". Instead of giving in at the last minute and offering to call in on Christmas morning, before too many others arrive.
We wanted to do just that, maybe invite them along on our walk but of course when we get there the table is spread for lunch (who has lunch when they are going to have an 11lb bird for dinner at 5.30 in the evening???!!!) and of course we cannot stay as Bratty is flipping out.

In fairness it is a hard day for her. She did get her swim, but she didn't get her trip to Mcdonalds or the supermarket or the ride on the Bear in the Big Blue house Boat at the supermarket.
She does love a walk in the woods and it was a beautiful crisp and sunny day. So who could blame her for wanting to be on the way in her car with her Mammy, Daddy and big brother?

So we ended up staying a total of 4 1/2 minutes, exchanging our two hopelessly inadequate looking parcels for a mountain of presents which we piled into the car still wrapped, apologised and drove off. I felt terrible knowing that they had put on a spread, but couldn't have enjoyed it with Bratty screaming the place down and trying to force our coats on. And we had never said we were coming for lunch, just to say Happy Christmas and see if they wanted to join our walk.

Of course by now we were later, it was colder and darker by the time we reached the forest and nobody really enjoyed that part of the day, except Bratty who always loves to walk among the trees.

So by trying to do the "right thing" please everyone I ended up fecking it up for all of us.

Okay, when we did get home and got the heating and the oven switched on, and a glass of chilled champagne into my hand, I felt a little better. Particularly when Mr Hammie started talking to me again. (the duty visit was NOT his idea)

The kids were happy to be in their own space. Boo had his pizza and chips, Bratty had a tantrum, 5mg of Valium and then vegemite toast; in that order. (she really wanted Mcdonalds chicken nuggets)

We had our lovely dinner, enjoyed our lovely wine and watched silly T.V.

I even remembered to ring Granny and say thank you for the mountain of presents.

So here I am putting it in writing so I remember to stick with it for the next 365 days. And when anyone asks me "what are you doing for the Christmas?"
I WILL say "Exactly what we want".*

(*Either that or we will fly to Lanzarote on the 23rd like all sensible people)

Happy Holidays from Hammie!!


debbie said…
i live in wisconsin,usa, and absolutely love your blog!
Lisamaree said…
HI Debbie, thankyou for that.
How did you hear about it?
debbie said…
i adopted 2 children with FAS 6years ago and sometimes do a blog search for others with special needs children. yours came up! my parents are from england so i was amazed to see a blog from ireland? i believe that is where you from. i look forward to reading yours!
Anonymous said…
Parents of children with allergies have some similar problems. First we tried to educate all family members. 90% took notice and made an effort. We warned everyone (my in-laws) that our daughter has a nut allergy. On Christmas day, my husband as I were left guarding the platters of nuts, beetroot and cashew dip and apricot cheese with almonds from our daughter while also trying to ensure no other children shared the nuts/dip/cheese with her.
K.Line said…
Oh, in the way of an exhausted parent trying to manage the expectations of everyone, I can relate to you H! Of course, you have very specific challenges but I'm always intrigued to see how much your situation resonates. You write so well and you are such an Everywoman. You're going to get it right this year (2008). WHich translates into you and Mr. H enjoying yourselves. I'm giving you my Xmas love vibes!
juliaroberts said…
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