a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Dec, 2008

Christmas 2008

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Early in the month Mark wondered aloud whether or not we’d get through the holiday without a funeral. Turned out he was wrong. There have been three deaths in our circle, one for each of the past three years.

Advent calendar and all, the leadup to Christmas this year left me down in the dumps, no matter what I did. But on the 24th something happened. My heart lightened, and it righted itself.

Funerals aside, when I’m looking back on Christmases past it’s hard to say with any certainty if one Christmas was better than any other. This is due to the fact that they contain the same basic unchanging components: food, family, gifts, snow… but I think I can safely say that Christmas ’08 was easy and delightful and very very nice. Even though I never did get around to sending our Christmas cards. Oops!

I’m sure that part of the reason our Christmas was so good  is the fact that it was smaller than others. And by smaller I mean that less money was spent on seasonal frivolity. My grocery bill was half as low as it was other years. I bypassed the Christmas napkins and the $20.00 box of Christmas crackers (we just used up leftovers from last year) and spent less for gift-giving too. I did the bulk of my shopping locally and bought less, and the gifts were more meaningful. And because there were fewer of them our attention wasn’t nearly as diverted, you know what I mean?

Kids are funny. They appreciate 5 gifts almost more than they do 10. So do I for that matter.

Christmas Day didn’t begin as early as I had thought it would. I woke up at 6:40 a.m. and wondered why I was the only one not sleeping. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew it was 7:00 a.m. and one of the kids was nudging me. We found out later that Emma had been awake since 5:00 and was WAITING to wake us up. (!)

Our Christmas morning always unfolds this way:

  • We all check out the loot in our stockings.
  • The parents make coffee while the girls play with the little things that were in their stocking, eat their oranges and have a few chocolates.
  • Once coffee is in hand the gift-opening may commence.

I think the stocking is my favourite part of Christmas. I like little. I found a cute little notebook in my stocking, some coconutty bath stuff, mini-Toberlones, socks, and a neat little “salt and peeper” shaker.

I think Mark had a good stocking too. I can’t remember everything that was inside it now, but there was a robotic bug, carpet boules, a folding knife/flint (so manly!), some nougat, chocolate-covered espresso beans, tweezers with a magnifying glass (an inside joke because he’s the official Sliver Remover in our family), a vintage “Zelda” comic book, socks… and (I know I’m forgetting something) …

The girls each received some LittleMissMatched socks, (had I known they had legwarmers I would have bought those instead – so cute!) bath crayons, windup toys, gummy bears and jellybeans, chocolate coins, barrettes, markers, make-your-own yo-yos… and an orange stuffed in the toe. Sarah got a package of pipe cleaners and has taken particular joy in telling me that she KNEW Santa would bring pipe cleaners because I don’t EVER buy her pipe cleaners.  ;)

Santa was generous but didn’t go overboard like he has in the past.

Anyway, yes, stocking first, coffee second, gifts third.

It’s kind of a blur now.

Christmas Day at home

Christmas Day at home

Emma received a remote-controlled car, portable Scrabble, a DIY fleece quilt kitMySims Kingdomfor the Wii, and some Playmobil. Sarah received a strange jellyfish thing she really wanted (more on that later), a bow and (foam) arrow set, Boggle, a diary (with lock and key!), and some Playmobil.  Both the girls received a four-seater toboggan, and racing grannies.  

I received a very beautiful silver and concrete gingko leaf necklacefrom Mark via Etsy. I had to laugh when I unwrapped it. Earlier this season I emailed Turtleheadand asked her whether our husbands knew about our Etsy favourites and she cheerily offered to email the information to Mark.  Well, Mark figured it out and picked something truly beautiful. I love it so much.

The girls, as per tradition, received some gifts from us: pj’s (which they got the night before), books of all sorts, the mouse house, two prints and a set of shadowpuppets (also from Etsy) called Toothfairy Landscape. I have to say, the quality it is way above and beyond what I expected. It’s a toy! It’s art! And it looks very cool on our mantle!

The girls bought me a really cool hat, which looks totally rockin’ on me and a black merino wool sweater for Mark.

My gift to Mark was an alarm clock. Not too exciting, I know, but he needed one. After all, it’s the gift that he’ll use every day!

After the first phase of unwrapping was complete the living room looked something like this:

 Christmas Day at home: the aftermath

And we left it all in situ and head over to Mark’s parents place, where we re-energized with (more) coffee and a sticky breakfast:

The sticky buns

And then we proceeded to Operation Unwrapping Phase Two.

My in-laws gave me some chocolates, some bath smellies, and a baking stone which I am going to try out today. Mary knit me up very cool scarf, which is probably my favourite gift of all. All the other schoolyard mums will be green with envy.

Their family gift to us was a stunning heirloom-quality wooden crokinole board.

 playing crokinole

It is a very fun and low-tech kind of game. It has a checkerboard on the other side of it, and it also came with chess pieces. I wonder if my kids will be patient enough to learn how to play.

The girls got some neat stuff too: knitted goods, jewelry, clothes for their Build-a-Bears, a couple of quiz games, and a race car set:

The race car set

The race car set

… which some other people in the family really enjoyed too:

The race car set

We spent Christmas day playing and eating and then we ate some more at dinner, after which the girls retired to watch a movie while the adults played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit (the 25th anniversary edition). If you’re into trivia games I do recommend this version. They’ve introduced a couple new elements that makes it more fun (although it took just as long to play!). We sat there for over two hours. My brain was aching by the end of it.

We made Mark’s parents some chocolatey treats, a book of photosfrom this past year, and gave them a framed studio portrait of Emma and Sarah. I also bought Mary a fun spatula from Kitchenalia (one of my fave stores in Westboro), like this one but with a gingerbread man on it.

All in all it was a good Christmas. I can’t believe it’s over.

You spend a month (or more) thinking about it, and pouf, it’s gone. Thankfully, there is enough gingerbread and butter tarts to last us another week or so.

2 Responses to "Christmas 2008"

1 | porter

December 27th, 2008 at 11:39 pm


Sounds wonderful!

2 | Shan

December 28th, 2008 at 5:57 pm


Sounds like a lovely Christmas.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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