Only a week or so after we first set up Christmas around our house, and hanging our stockings above the fireplace in our family room, I was sitting at the kitchen table grading papers and listening to T. playing a pretend Christmas game in the adjacent family room. She was chattering to herself in whispers and stuffing the stockings with toys from the room: stuffed animals, a DVD, a wooden recorder. I smiled to myself as I listened to her play, because I remembered--what seemed like eons ago--L. playing similar pretend Christmas games. One time he stuffed some of his toys in a pillowcase and hid them around the Christmas tree for us to find.
I also smiled because a week ago I had given T. my customary lecture on not pulling on the stockings. They were held up by heavy-ish stocking holders and last year she had pulled on one and the holder had fallen onto her poor toe; yet there she was this year, chattering away.
And pulling. And chattering. Then there was a small crashing sound, followed by silence. Just as I jumped out of my chair I heard T. burst into tears. Not the I'm hurt type of tears (you learn quickly as a parent how to tell the difference, don't you?) but the oh-what-did-I do type of tears.
I found her sitting on the hearth, clutching a broken stocking holder. Her broken stocking holder, the one with the angel on it.
"I feel so bad," T. wailed to me, as we sat together.
Then, between hiccuping sobs, the story came out. She wanted our stockings at home to get the chance to be filled. She felt badly that they never ended up stuffed with goodies, or that we never had presents under our own Christmas tree at home.
"I want to have Christmas at Grandma and Dadad's AND here," she told me.
I knew exactly what she meant--that feeling of wanting to split yourself in two, and yet knowing you can't.
So was hatched our first annual Christmas-at-home. Scott and I decided we'd pick a weekend day and have a little Christmas celebration right here. We didn't go out and buy more substantial gifts for the kids, but I did find one gift each for them at my favorite thrift store. For $2 I scored a Care Bear pillow for T., and for a mere $1 I found a hardcover copy of the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records. We wrapped these, and put them under the tree on Saturday night for the kids to find on Sunday morning. I even bought silly stocking stuffers for them: toothbrushes, holiday pocket tissue packs, a deck of cards for L., chapstick, and new crayons for T.
And I even made fresh cinnamon buns, hot and gooey, because what kind of Christmas morning would it be without those?
Bread Machine Cinnamon Buns
*Although this is a bread machine recipe, I don't see why you can't mix the dough by hand. Just make sure you let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour before you proceed to rolling it out.
1 cup water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter (I broke tradition here and used real butter instead of butter-fake-me-out)
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp skim milk powder
2 tsp quick rise yeast
Select the dough cycle on your bread machine.
When the dough is done, knead and roll it out on a floured surface. My dough was really sticky and needed what seemed like tons more flour. But it all came out fine in the end, despite this. Just add flour until you feel it could roll out with sticking to everything.
In a separate bowl, mix together approximately 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Add about 1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or raisins. I fudged the actual proportions on this and just eyeballed. The first batch of filling I mixed wasn't enough to spread over all the dough, so I made up some extra. Then, roll the dough jelly-roll style and cut into slices. Place slices face-side up in a muffin tin, and let rise for about 30-40 minutes. You can then either refrigerate the entire tin as I did, until you're ready to bake in the morning, or you can bake immediately.