Below is my new Christmas carol to be sung to the tune of “Holly Jolly Christmas”
Have a Covid-ridden Christmas!
It’s the Worst time of the year.
Get that swap of cotton-tip,
Then have moments of fear!
Have a Covid-ridden Christmas
And when you walk down the street,
Keep that mask upon your face,
Just wink at those you meet.
Oh by golly have a Covid-ridden Christmas—this year!
From my home to yours. Hope you had a great holiday season!
Yeah. This was the little ditty I sang during Christmas week. And I’ll write my own version of A Christmas Story 2021…….
We arrived home from Paris and I immediately began the preparations. After all, it was to be a full house. Jake was flying in from L.A. Oona, Sam and Owen were flying in from Cincinnati. Roman was coming in via Amtrak from New York. And my ex-husband was driving in from New York as well. My step-daughter, her husband and daughter were driving their fifteen-minute drive to the house for dinner. I was eagerly anticipating the joy, laughter and merriment that all would be experiencing. And the extra was celebrating my grandson, Owen’s, first Christmas.
I even had an Owen cookie made. I’m shocked that I haven’t stress-eaten this yet. But I may glaze it and use it as an ornament for future Christmases.
I counted the days until my next week off—the week before Christmas and a couple of days after. Since I started decorating before our Paris trip, I felt that I was in a good place and it would be a relatively stress-free Holiday Season.
The Friday after returning home from our trip, the Frenchman picked me up at work and suggested we get the Christmas tree—the real tree. We would have two Christmas trees this year. The fake one that was purchased last year because Covid was at it’s prime and we really had no big Christmas, would be placed in the sunroom with the real tree in the living room.
This Christmas tree lot is on Swedesford Road in Wayne..just down the block from my office.
So off we drove approximately one block over from my office to a Christmas tree lot and picked out the perfect tree for our needs. Because Owen is at that curious age, we opted for a smaller tree that wouldn’t overwhelm my little ishkabibble.
This tree guy had to model a number of trees for me. I need to get a good look..
Thoughts of hot cocoa, Christmas songs and my little grandson danced around in my empty head while I decided on the tree to get.
This year it would finally be back to a merry, jolly Holiday Season.
We let the tree settle overnight then added lights…
…and the remainder of the decorations. For a smaller tree, this one was fantastic. Hardly any needles fell–even after three weeks. It was amazing! And at $65, a good value!
With the days off from work in anticipation of the wonderful Covid-Free Christmas to be, I started baking up a storm.
Basically, this was the state of my kitchen for a week. I’m a messy baker.
I put my knowledge from the croissant class I took at “Cook’n With Class in Paris and hit the kitchen with gusto. The first batch turned out great but I almost burned the house down because butter leaked. In my haste I didn’t bake the first batch on a rimmed cookie sheet. No problem, I opened the windows, turned on the fans and all was well. In fact, the croissants turned out to be spectacular.
Yum. Yum. Such a nice rise!
Buttery and flaky. The Frenchman was delighted that..
..he could finally get a decent croissant in the States! He now eats breakfast.
Not stopping there, I decided to bake a batch of Pain aux Chocolat. And a second batch of the flaky pastry with a chocolate surprise. And more croissants. Both froze beautifully and reheated perfectly.
Oh la la! Pain aux Chocolat!
Everyone would enjoy French pastries for breakfast.
More croissants. I couldn’t stop..
I couldn’t stop with the Pain aux chocolat either. I also made Kougin-Amann but Roman and The Frenchman ate them all.
Cookies were baked.
My Brown-butter, Oatmeal Raisin cookies. A very popular item I must say.
Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies were baked.
Best brownie recipe of all time. I’ve been baking these since my kids were in school!
Bread Pudding was baked.
Because you just never know who will want bread pudding!
Bread was baked.
The Good Loaf. For Sandwiches. For toasting. For anything. Three loaves were baked.
I made candied nuts. I made Salmon Rillettes. I made pistachio brittle for the Nougatine. I made Focaccia.
..and more pain aux chocolat
And seriously, who doesn’t pass up the chance to enjoy a couple of nuts?
The only baked goods purchased was a ring of cookies, beautifully decorated by one of my neighbors. She’s incredibly talented. I suck at cookie decorating.
The Christmas meal was well-planned. Roast Tenderloin of Beef, Haricot Verts, Macaroni and Cheese and Mashed Potatoes were the main course. Prior to that, with our aperitif’s, Deviled eggs were made.
Table linens were washed and ironed. Yes. Ironed!
Owen’s Christmas gifts were wrapped.
I couldn’t wait to see him open his gifts from Santa!
During my few moments of relaxation, I would sit and listen to my Spotify playlists of Christmas songs. It was blissful.
Ahhh. Relaxing with my favorite Christmas music.
And slowly, things started to fall apart.
Jake called from LA. His girlfriend had tested positive. Now—both Jake and his girlfriend are double-vaccinated. Both have booster shots. However, this new variant broke through those boundaries. And although being vaxxed made the variant less…. serious. It was still a force to be dealt with. Jake was in quarantine.
I was upset. Very upset but I had to put my big-girl panties on (actually in my case, oversized granny panties) and be happy that I would see my grandson.
This was just the beginning.
The next day I got another phone call. From Oona. Owen had contacted yet another ear infection (he’s since been scheduled for surgery to have tubes placed in his ears). Both Oona and Sam felt it wasn’t in Owen’s best interest to travel. I couldn’t blame them but this news was really upsetting.
I started to break..
The oversized granny pants started slipping down.
Umm. No you don’t. Yes you do. No. Yes….
Then I received yet another phone call. This time it was Roman. One of the TV shows he works on had an outbreak of the Covid Omicron variant. Basically, 90 percent of the cast either tested positive or decided not to take the chance of coming into the studio. The news was if he tested negative for the next day’s test, he would come home. If negative, he wouldn’t.
Picture, if you will, me receiving this call from Roman. Jake was out of the picture. Oona, Sam and my precious, beloved Grandson that I rarely see were out of the picture. After discovering that my ex-husband’s girlfriend had only received her first vaccination that day, they were out of the picture. Now, with the possibility and very strong possibility that Roman wouldn’t be coming, I lost my shit.
I sat on the sofa in the sunroom, crying—not like a baby, but rather wailing like a crazed Banshee. My body shook. The dog ran under the coffee table in fear. My husband ran down the stairs in fear that something demonic occurred. It did. It was me reacting—or overreacting to the realization that f**king Covid had ruined yet, a second Christmas.
Staying true to my Celtic roots, I channeled my inner Banshee. It was not a pretty sight.
I have to be honest here. I was so distraught that The Frenchman wanted to drive me to the ER. I gathered up a molecule of sanity to tell him that if he did take me to the ER, the hospital would admit me and not allow me to go home. It was that bad.
At this point, I was so emotionally exhausted that I went to bed.
I honestly wanted to rip every wreath off the doors. But I just went to bed.
The next day Roman called to tell me he tested negative. However, he wanted to spend as little time as possible on public transportation from NYC so I picked him up in New Jersey at the Hamilton Train Station. About an hour away from where we live, we decided to take a memory tour around Pennington then headed home.
Actually, it’s a pleasure to pick the kids up at the Hamilton Station because of the sculptures outside!
You would be surprised at how just one of my children visiting made such a difference. Although it wasn’t the Christmas that I anticipated or wished for, it turned out to be fun.
It’s great to have even one of my babies home.
We drove around the area looking at Christmas decorations and just had a good time. Christmas dinner was a success because my step-daughter, her husband and their daughter were over so it really was a good Holiday dinner.
It’s an annual thing. To drive around and look at the decorated homes. This house which I’ve deemed “The Chimmey House” is my absolute favorite.
I love the simplicity too. It’s festive yet elegant!
The next plan was for Oona, Sam, and Owen to visit during Martin Luther King’s Birthday weekend. We would be celebrating Owen’s birthday early. Jake was going to fly in from LA and Roman was going to head over the next day after an SNL taping for the Sunday dinner. Again, The Frenchman’s daughter’s family would be coming.
At this juncture, I wasn’t expecting anything. I had eaten all the Outrageous Brownies during a pity-party-stress-eating binge anyway.
Back in the kitchen I went. Baking more croissants and pain aux chocolat. Back we went to get another tenderloin of beef. No macaroni and cheese—this time it was shrimp scampi. And more haricot verts.
More flaky Pain Aux Chocolat and Croissants…
I baked a birthday cake. The Momofuku Milk Bar recipe. The Christmas tree in the sunroom? It was re-decorated with a banner celebrating every month of Owen. Once again, I couldn’t wait.
And while preparing to make the batter, my stainless Kitchen Aid Mixer died. D.I.E.D. In mid mix. Just–Stopped. My husband saw the look on my face and immediately, grabbed me by the arm, put my coat on and off we drove to get a new one. I got red!
There was no time to admire my new toy. As soon as it was taken out of the box, it was put to work.
This cake ring I found on Amazon is the greatest for assembling cakes!
I turned the Christmas tree in the sunroom into a Birthday tree for Owen..
Oona sent decorations..
All for Owen’s pre-Birthday celebration.
I was blissful. And happy.
There was more of Gam-gam to love due to my stress and pity-eating all those brownies and cookies.
Then it happened. Oona and Sam had to cancel the flight because Owen, once again, came down with another ear infection, this was the infection to send them to the ENT specialist and a wait for the surgery.
It breaks my heart more that my little ishkabibble, who is a most happy fellow, was in so much pain from those ear infections. Thankfully it’s going to be taken care of.
Luckily, Jake did fly in from LA so it was absolutely wonderful to spend time with him last weekend. Roman stayed in NYC because it was a late night.
The repeat dinner last Sunday was just as great as the Christmas dinner. I was upset about Owen not coming but his health is far more important than coming to visit me and taking chances flying during this time.
Can we add 2021 to the mix?
What was the final outcome?
Roman and my husband both told me that I had a great run with hosting Christmases of the past. And it’s true. I had over 30 years of hosting Christmas. It’s always been my “thing”. Those years living in NYC, I owned Christmas. All the years with The Frenchman—Christmas has been a pleasure and a success.
All those years of decorating the interior of the house..
Bannisters festooned with garland, ribbon and lights. Wreaths hanging from doors..
…the cookie plate for Santa’s cookies..
It’s time to pass it on.
Even when I was a child, my mother had that same rule. Nobody leaves the house on Christmas except to attend Mass.
Christmas 1958. Ozone Park, Queens, NY. Never left the house on Christmas..and as three more siblings arrived we still stayed home on this day!
And now, it’s time to pass the proverbial baton onto Oona. She has a child. One of my hard and fast rules when my own children were young was, we did not leave the house on Christmas. Santa came. That meant it was a day for the kids to enjoy their gifts. As they started school, it was Christmas pageants at Church. As they got older and were still at home, we continued staying home. As they left home, they always came back for Christmas. Until Covid hit. This was our second Covid Christmas.
As everything is packed and ready to be stored away, most of the items won’t be needed for the future. That is..unless I can host another Christmas!!!
Hopefully, next Christmas things will be different. Maybe Covid will either be gone or will be reduced, thanks to vaccinations and booster shots, to a mere flu or bad cold. Perhaps The Frenchman and I will get on a plane and head to a fun-filled Christmas at my daughter’s and her family. She’s a great hostess and she’ll carry on the Christmas tradition of not leaving the house.
Honestly, Oona and Sam are such wonderful parents to Owen. Look how happy this little family is. I missed them but seeing this photo makes me realized how blessed I am!
I’m curious to know if Covid affected your Holiday plans this year. Did things remain the same—or was it different?
Covid did its best to kill Christmas –
1) My daughter across the country got it and was unable to travel, and my son-in-law (thank goodness) had no notion of traveling without her; he was needed there to take care of her.
2) The rest of my awkward family either a) refused to get vaxxed (both of whom got it bad as a result), b) refused to come if anybody besides me and my husband would attend (because she said she “can’t” get vaxxed – not so – and her doctor forbade her from seeing “groups” of people, that is, three, although she had originally intended to attend if there were five), c) somehow hadn’t “been able” to get vaxxed because it they couldn’t just walk in to the local store for a shot without an appointment, which they couldn’t seem to make, and d) others who had family obligations elsewhere and who usually come later anyway (they wound up with very mild breakthrough cases anyway).
But the days (Christmas Eve and Day/night – both!) were saved by my former stepdaughter, whom I hadn’t seen in ages and who was somewhat mournful because her kids were with my stepson this year, but was still a ray of sunshine in a bleak holiday. So all was not lost!
Oh that’s lousy – but I am so glad you got to enjoy special Christmas’s with your boy and the step daughter and her family. Maybe you can celebrate a mid summer Christmas some time (normal for me growing up in NZ), or just a Christmas mini series.. We just have a small family as my family are still back in NZ – so I miss the cousins and the outings to a swimming spot and picnics or any of that and gravel-guys family are downright obnoxious/toxic, we just have husband and son and daughter with our own little rituals. For instance, we get a tree, Madam (daughter) decorates it as she has this idea that only she has any taste (maybe true….) we normally have baked salmon but this yeah we had roast brisket. We generally just potter about and have an easy/quiet time of it. No stress no hassle just chill 🙂
Bless your hear! What a tale of woe. Still, you are positive at the end and hopeful for next year as are we all. Our sibling dinner has been cancelled for the second year because of fear of flying with COVID, but we were able to gather with our daughters albeit at their individual homes in different cities due to in-laws, etc. At least a step above last year! We, too, honor the youngest families staying home for Christmas because of Santa and church performances, as you cited. We actually enjoy it, and I still assist with cooking. I am not the baker you are, however, but make a mean oyster bisque that all love! Thanks for sharing your very interesting life. Bonjour to the Frenchman!
I’m so sorry your Christmas didn’t go as planned. Ours went fairly well. Our oldest didn’t come as his in-laws were in from Florida. We had planned to do a Second Christmas with everyone, but our granddaughter got Covid. Out of the 10 of us, 30% have now had it. Everyone is vaccinated and boosted (at least, those who can be boosted). I hate this damn virus. I hate the way it makes me look at people. I hate the way it’s made this country even more divided.
Your home is so very lovely. You have a definite touch. I hope you continue to decorate even if no one comes. Last year, when no one came and the husband was out of commission due to breaking his ankle, I still decorated. It definitely brightened my spirits. At some point, I need to seriously downsize my decorating. I do too much, but I love the way the house looks.
I wish I could bake like you do. I suppose I could if I just took the time to learn. But, my piggy bits have expanded by 30 pounds since this time last year. I am so upset with myself. And, if I baked like that, I’d be another 30 pounds! At least, your Frenchman eats them. My husband just nibbles!
When my late husband and I moved from Queens to Florida, we went back up to NY every year for Christmas. When my oldest was born, my husband said, Christmas morning we are waking up at home. And that was what we always did, even now. If and when I ever become a grandma (Oma), I will be waking up at their house. It is a good tradition to have. Just another thing we have in common Catherine!!!!! Praying Owen feels better soon and his surgery is a success!
Hi Susan. OWEN”S SURGERY WAS A SUCCESS!!! I’m so happy. Yeah. Moving foward..our annual Thanksgiving trip to Paris will be delayed by a week or so because Oona and her husband have a wedding to attend in the Philly area. So they’ll be here and we’ll be babysitting for Owen. I guess I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving-LOL. And we can spend next Christmas in Ohio! XOXOXOXO
Christmas…smaller in size (as was yours) due to fear of travel during covid.
So sorry your Christmas plans were so disrupted. All that wonderful planning, anticipating and cooking, but so pleased that you had a celebration with one son, and then another. It seems to be the way now – celebrating in stages! Our son and daughter in law came for dinner on Christmas Eve, then they and we had Christmas Day in our own homes. My husband and I had a lovely relaxed day. Went for a walk, had brunch, exchanged gifts, watched Christmas tv, had some wine, had a lovely dinner. All quiet and peaceful. We went over for dinner at son and daughter in laws on 27th which again was a lovely day. So Christmas in stages. I think even when Covid has gone that we are unlikely to be having big family gatherings again. Unless we get grandchildren of course! I live in hopes. Happy new year. By the way, I read your blog earlier this week and just wanted to say – I’m one of your loyal readers – I read all your posts, however frequently or not you can manage them. And I appreciate your writing. Every best wish, xx
I’m not a huge Christmas person, but my husband and I enjoyed the holiday season, as usual. For me it’s all about LIGHTS! Our backyard has a lot of white lights on timers, so it’s pretty and easy to deal with. I didn’t bother with a tree or my ornament collection, just kept things rather simple and focused instead on some cooking which was fun. (My MIL actually ruined Christmas for us years ago because of her over-the-top expectations, so I guess our motis operandi is in response to that.)
Anyway, all your baking is IMPRESSIVE! Wow!!! Glad you were able to enjoy yourself even though it didn’t go as planned. Hopefully next year will be healthy and happy!!
Quite the disruptions for Christmas. I know you were so looking forward to seeing all the family. You made me tired when you recounted all the baking you did. The Frenchman got his money’s worth when he gave you that baking class in Paris. I bet there are more morning smiles from him now as he munches on a croissant.
Wishing you a great year of family visits
Thank you for sharing your Christmas adventures. I love your candid honesty, its what makes me a faithful reader.
Our Christmas was sacked too. We were supposed to go to my son’s home, but they fell ill on the 23rd. So Christmas eve found me at the grocery store scrounging up some food for the eve and Christmas. Luckily i found crab kegs and scallops and lamb chops. It was a very quiet couple if days. But restful.
You did a great thing allowing yourself that meltdown. So understandable, too many disappointments at once. Always better and healthier to let it all out.
You had me at the baking, you are an incredible cook! So sad it fell apart because so much went into it, almost, for naught! I’m amazed you didn’t just check yourself into the funny farm, after all that work, I would have. Thank you thank you for your wonderful posts, your wit and wisdom come in handy for me all the time.
Even though your Christmas wasn’t perfect I’m so glad you were able to spend time with your son. My Christmas didn’t turn out the way I planned either, but at least I was able to have dinner with my mom. I spent Christmas Eve and morning alone crying because no one could make it for a variety of reasons. But thank god mom came for dinner! You really made me realize how lucky I was to have her with me. ❤️
So very sorry about your Christmas. You were allowed to fall apart. We had a very quite Christmas. Our daughter who goes to college in Boston came home for the first time in a year (she works when not going to school). She actually said it was her best Christmas since she went away to Boarding school in Quebec.
I’m so sorry about your Christmas and all your plans going awry. This virus is a total pain and we are so ready to be done with it. Is there any chance you would be willing to share your recipe for pain au chocolat?
So sorry after all your hard work things didn’t go to plan, but at least you each had family with you and I’m sure you’ll make up for it later in the year.
The past Christmas was a difficult one, to say the least. I planned and cooked for the Christmas of years gone by. I decorated every corner of the house and cooked way too much and waited for family that never came. One had Covid and the other had unexpected company. My decorations are all stored in bins for another Christmas (maybe). I did organize them so I could downsize as much as I choose next year. When I read your blog I realized that I needed to let Christmas go and I was not the only one in this position. I really thank you for this post! I love them all but this one really hit home. Time to feel my feelings and move on. Best wishes for a happy new year!