Ours was technically our first as a single parent family, although I realised part-way through the preparations, that nothing much had changed.
I still did the shopping of food and presents; the wrapping and hiding; the preparation; the tree; and the lights. And yet - despite being tired and having a zillion things to make before the big day - there was no real tension or stress.
So our first Single Family Christmas was pretty darn good.
I was lucky enough to have the kids, which helped.
On Christmas Eve, we made chocolate truffles (without the rum or sultanas), and a chocolate log for Christmas Day.
The kids help me prepare a kick-arse German potato salad, made from potatoes dug from my Dad's own vegie garden that very morning. We added mayo, finely chopped shallots, and some pineapple mint from my niece's herb garden, with a little paprika sprinkled on top. I also did a roasted vegie salad - capsicum, eggplant, Australian garlic, Dad's own tomatoes, and red onion. It was all I could do not to devour it on the spot!
(Tips: If you make it these salads the day before, the flavour goes through them, making them even more delicious.).
We also put together a chocolate log - hideously sinful, but I knew all the littlies in the family (plus a few of the oldies) would love it.
Later, we watched telly under the glare of our Christmas lights, while wrapping a few gifts, and chilling with the pets. We started a new tradition, of opening one present on Christmas Eve. I got a DVD about puppies, which we promptly watched whilst sipping hot chocolate. (For once, the wet weather meant we had a cool Christmas, instead of the stinking hot ones we are used to in Queensland.)
It was gorgeous.
The kids went to bed, without complaints, right on time, and were out like lights. (Unlike the Christmas lights, which twinkled merrily all night).
This gave me time to finish wrapping the pressies I hadn't quite finished doing in the previous weeks.
There wasn't a lot of money to splash around this Christmas, but I tried to purchase things the kids would love that I could afford. Some items were sourced from markets, garage sales, and charity shops, not that kids seemed to notice.
Even Santa was frugal, dropping off a (cheap) boogie board each rather than the usual bike, scooter, or fancy schmancy games console and/or games they may have received in the past. (They got those from their Dad and his girlfriend in spades).
I was too scared to look at the clock when the kids jumped on the bed and woke me in the wee hours. They told me it was about 4 am, but I think it was closer to three. Apparently, Mr 9 woke up first, discovered Santa had been, woke his sister, and they then bounced on me until I woke up.
With no one to grouch at us, we got up and exchanged gifts over milo and tea, before climbing back into bed with the pets for a sleep in.
I felt sad and a little guilty when the present-opening came to a rather rapid end, but the kids were surprisingly very happy with their gifts. As Mr 9 said: "We can tell that your presents were bought with love, and that makes them even more special."
Bless his little professor-like heart.
I woke before the others and set to work on the tomato salsa salad, coleslaw, and pavlova.
We had planned to attend church with my brother and his parents, but I'd had a bad night with TMJ pain (that's a whole other story), and disrupted sleep. Plus I was running out of time to prepare my part of the meal.
We eventually made it to my brother's home in time for the celebrations. (My oldest brother and his wife were hosting, but poor SIL had emergency gall bladder surgery during the weak, so we had all chipped together to do as much of the work as possible. Yes, I know, she's a trooper!)
My other brother and his family were visiting from WA, so that made the lunch even more fun.
It was one of the most laidback, relaxing festive lunches we've had.
What a pity Christmas only comes but once a year!
Readers, how was your Christmas?
Zsa Zsa dressed for Christmas
Russy the cat, finally lets me take his photo
Barbecued chicken (we don't like turkey) and baked barbecued ham. Wish I'd taken photos of my salads as well.
Hannah was rather taken with Mr 9's pokemon gadgets
My home-made pavlova with mango, cherries, lychees and grapes
The chocolate log looked gross having collapsed in the humidity, but tasted yummy
My big sister couldn't be there, but sent one of her home made plum puddings for the oldies.