21 December 2010

The perfect gift

For weeks, we've known the combination of a new baby in our house and a sour economy would keep Christmas gift giving to a minimum for us this year. We had no idea how much we ultimately would want just one thing, though: the health and happiness of our family.

A couple of weeks ago I called my sister to let her know that we wanted to make sure everyone was on board with not having a major giftapalooza for the kids. It was then she told me that their Christmas was going to be about experiences this year. You know, looking at lights, building a gingerbread house and hanging out as a family. I agreed that sounded fantastic. Her family dealt with job loss, and ours keeps seeing our income shrink with furloughs, rising health care costs and our choice for me to stay at home with our boys.

In the past few days my family's collective blood pressure has risen dramatically as we got word that my 3-year-old niece was being checked for lymphoma. And this came just about a week after my sister was called back for a follow-up after something was spotted during a routine mammogram. Thankfully, doctors have assured the family that everyone is well.

While we waited for answers I worried, mostly for my sister who had to put on a brave face to not alarm her daughters. I am just beginning to see that the really tough parts of parenthood don't come when your kid wakes up for the umpteenth time with pee-soaked sheets. The grueling part comes when you have to face our imperfect world and lead your child through it.

I am trying to take this moment to let go of a few minor stresses and remember what I am really grateful for this Christmas. For me, that's knowing what is truly worth worrying about and what is not. Merry Christmas, and I hope your Christmas wish is granted, too.

Here are my low-stress, low-cost and, I hope, fun Christmas gifts:

Homemade Cocoa Mix
(adapted from an Alton Brown recipe)
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
*Vary by adding a pinch of cayenne, crushed peppermints or mini chocolate chips.


Marshmallow Snowman Kit

If you want an afternoon project that may not be as involved as an entire gingerbread house, this is a fun one. Just melt white chocolate and use it like glue to stack different sizes of marshmallows. Or just give them a dunk in the melted white chocolate and then a pile of your favorite sprinkles, dark chocolate chips or candies.


d.e. hovde said...

I remember you sent these cute packages and I remember this post ... love it. Memory lane morning, d

The cook in her kitchen said...

Dina, love it that you remembered these! Now, do you remember when I tried to make marshmallows at your house while babysitting your boys? What was I thinking?