Let's face it, by this date on the calendar, 'tis the season for collapse. Those of us crazy enough to undertake a homemade Christmas (on any scale) are wishing for...surrender. From the flour that clogs the drain. From the piles of fabric that topple. From the unsent Christmas cards that taunt us when we close our red eyes past midnight. Who wouldn't wish the constant struggle to be over?
But how sad to wish it over. These precious hours are never coming again. Never.
I always resolve going into this season that I will enjoy it more. And I have learned to do that by being more realistic about what I can and can't accomplish and by demanding of myself that I see what is before my eyes, which is to say...two darling children who embrace it all. When the needle pops out of the sewing machine, it is an adventure to Blossom and Fern. "Now we get to learn how to put it back together!" When the two beep-beep-beeping timers are dueling, I forget which one goes with which oven. My girls don't. They delight in keeping me straight. Late nights when I topple into the lap of my big chair and grow still for the first time since I left my bed, they appear. Still awake! Still in full vigor in their footy jammies! They snuggle up with me and ask (again), "When are we going to read Scrooge?"
We haven't re-read our Dickens yet this year. We shall, my dears. We shall. But we do have the gingerbread pieces baked for another family tradition that always signals the beginning of the fun part of Christmas, the relaxing part, the joyous part...the part where we four are together and staying that way.
The girls will pipe together their houses and decorate them. And those sweet little houses will be the centerpiece of the holiday table...and our holiday home.
We've taken to giving homemade gingerbread kits to friends we know will love the experience as much as we do. Inspired by Martha Stewart's version, we use our own cast-iron mold (one of our treasures). We put all the gingerbread in a gift tin or basket with some royal icing mix and some candy for decorating.
It's a gift that fills our home with the cinnamon-nutmeg-gingery scent of Christmas itself and fills us with anticipation for the hour that is coming...it is coming...the hour when we will put aside our work and take up our play. Then, Christmas arrives.