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This is Christmas

Two of my mom friends and their kids came over tonight to decorate Christmas cookies and make crafts. Between the three of us, we have eight kids and a baby. Boys and girls ran up and down the hallway, a toddler crawled on the dining table, and a baby slept in the master bedroom throughout it all.

The moms sampled a beverage called “hot chocolate wine.” Someone saw it on Pinterest and gave it a shot, even though she was doubtful when the recipe called for mixing wine with half-and-half over the stove. She thought the heat would make the wine curdle, and she was right. The end result was chunky. And purple. We all tried a sip, but the drink was chewy. And we didn’t want to chew our wine. Wine is good, but not to eat.

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We called it a Pinterest fail, laughed, and poured it all down the sink. We talked about Christmas plans, diaper changes, lack of sleep, and all the other things that moms talk about when they get together. Christmas music played on Pandora in the background, and the pizza was extra cheesy and delicious

I made pizza and planned one simple holiday cookie for the kids to decorate. Our kids range in age from 10 years to 3 months, with most of them aged 4 to 7. I just can’t bring myself to embrace the chaos of rolling out sugar cookie dough, cutting out 143 Santas, and handing jars of sprinkles to that many kids that young, so we decorated hot chocolate cookies.

I made chocolate cookies, then each kid frosted and added mini marshmallows to the tops. Simple, easy, and chocolate everywhere. They took it one step farther and grabbed pretzels from the bowl on the table to add to their cookies. They held up their creations for the moms to admire, and the toddler ate marshmallows off the top of his brother’s cookie when he wasn’t looking. No two children cried at the same time, but at any given time at least one was crying or at least pouting.

“Now, this is Christmas,” said one of the other moms. She snapped a few pictures with her phone and smiled. The kitchen was a mess of candy, creativity, and kids.

The kids also made s’mores ornaments out of felt and cotton balls. Each kid glued theirs together and chose the color of the ribbon for a hanger. The toddler ate his cotton ball.

Christmas parties can be stressful to plan. Decorations, menus, outfits can all start to feel insufficient yet overwhelming. I invited moms who are low-key and just like to get together, so I kept it simple and we all had fun. Christmas isn’t about every guest wearing all-white outfits (I saw that the other day on social media and am still confused) or hosting elaborate holiday parties Hallmark movie-style.

It’s about celebrating Jesus’ birth (duh), but it’s also a season for getting together with friends and family. For sharing our lives with each other, giving our time to one another, and opening our homes to gatherings large and small.

You know, things that make you say “Now this is Christmas.”

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About Ann Henry

Ann Henry lives in rural America with her husband and three small kids. She manages their household and is the children's primary caretaker. She freelance writes for various publications as a part-time vocation.

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