Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Monday mornings, Lance doesn't need to get into work until late. This week, Isaac was up at his normal 6 am, but I'd managed to keep him quiet in front of Sesame Street, and Vivian was still snoring away at 6:45. Lance and I lounged around in bed, waking up slowly. At one point I asked him what he'd like for dinner and then we decided we'd trim the tree that night. Eventually we decided to start a new tradition: we'd break out the fondue pot we received for Christmas last year and make "trimming the tree night" "fondue night" as well in the P.O.W. household.

Because I am a sucker for Christmas, I immediately began imagining what this new tradition would mean to our family. The children would be enthralled by the beauty of the tree, quietly sitting in wonder as Lance and I carefully placed ornaments on just the right spot, pausing occasionally to toast each other with champagne. I'd buy hot cider for the kids, so they could join in the toasting. Then we'd eat fondue by the light of the tree, the kids loving the whole dipping phenomenon, while Lance and I stared adoringly into each other's eyes. Once we'd read a nice Christmas story and put the wee ones to bed, Lance and I would enjoy the rest of the champagne and perhaps christen the tree in another way.

So, with this plan in mind, I set off for the grocery store yesterday morning. My children are allergic to dairy, which makes most (cheese) fondue out of the question, and I wasn't thrilled with the thought of a fondue pot filled with hot oil should we try a meat fondue. I bought champagne, the fruit and pound cake and chocolate for the dessert fondue and then racked my brain for a main course that the whole family could enjoy. What did I come up with? Well--red sauce, of course. It's one of the few things Vivian will eat, after all. I purchased marinara sauce, rigatoni, a bagette, broccoli, new potatoes, mini mozzarella balls (for Lance and I) and basil.

Once home, there were the groceries to put away, the laundry to do, lunch to fix, administer and clean up. Once I finally got the kids down for naps, I set about getting ready for our Christmas tree trimming tradition. I cut up the fruit. I made garlic bread. I cooked pasta. I wrapped basil around the mozzarella balls. I blanched the broccoli and roasted the potatoes. By the time I finished the laundry the kids were up.

Now I began pumping up the evening for the kids, explaining how Daddy was going to come home and we would put pretty lights on the tree and have chocolate and oh, what fun it would be!

(You can see where this is going, I know that.)

So. Lance came home. It took almost an hour to get the lights on the tree, and neither child could have cared less. They both wanted to play with Daddy, now! And why can't I play with the lights? Why can't I unplug them? What is this ladder, can I climb on it? For an hour I ran interference with them while Lance cursed at the tree, but finally! We got it lit! And it looked lovely, really.

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Now was the time for ornaments, so I handed each child a small unbreakable one. Isaac wanted the one Vivian had. Vivian didn't want to give it up. Before I could intervene, the ornament (some sort of Elmo with a cowboy hat) had, in fact, broken in half, which caused both children to cry and Lance to yell sharply. Time for a beverage break! I brought out the warm cider for the kids and wine for Lance and I. (We had an open bottle in the fridge, so it seemed silly to open the champagne.) The cider was too hot. Vivian didn't like it. Isaac wanted to drink his out of a regular cup, not a sippy cup. Before we had a chance to sip our wine, much less toast each other, Vivian was into the ornament box, stepping on the gold balls.

"Well", I said. Let's just skip trimming the tree and go straight to fondue. (Here is where you say, I told you so! Because surely when I mentioned fondue up there you thought: her kids are too little for fondue, that's going to be a disaster.) But I was determined. We were starting a new tradition, see.

So. The fondue pot is hot, the fondue sticks are sharp and difficult for an almost 3 year old to handle. Of course Vivian is much too small to even attempt it--I just made her a plate of pasta with red sauce (you know, her favorite meal) but, because her brother got to dip his pasta into the pot, she of course insisted loudly and constantly that she should get to do that, too! Lance and I did not have time to eat more than a few toothpicks worth of dipped mozzarella/basil balls, so busy were we trying to placate Vivian and ensure Isaac didn't burn down the whole house.
Once the red sauce had covered all surfaces, we decided to retire to the "kids table" for the chocolate fondue. This worked slightly better, as I just put the melted chocolate in a bowl and dipped the kids' fruit for them. They were quite pleased with their chocolate-y strawberries, and had Lance and I not been so frazzled at that point, we might have enjoyed the moment as well.

It is actually quite a shame that we did not enjoy that moment, since immediately following the consumption of chocolate, both children morphed into raging lunatics. They spent the next twenty minutes running through the house, screaming "GREASY GREASY GREASY" at each other and cackling wildly. I have no idea why, but they both thought it was hilarious. We finally got them calmed down enough to stay in the playroom, threatening them with immediate bedtime if either one came out.

Then Lance and I set about decorating the tree. Here we actually did have a few minutes to sip our wine--although it never occurred to either one of us to toast each other. We got the ornaments up without incident and even managed a quick kiss, and then it was time to wrastle the monkeys into bed. Which took FOREVER.

Finally, finally, the kids were asleep, the tree was trimmed, the fondue was congealing nicely in the pot. The playroom, the kitchen, the dining table were all disaster areas. The floor was littered with ornament boxes and remnants from last year's tinsel. I had red sauce on my shirt and chocolate in my hair. Lance and I bickered as we cleaned it all up.

But, before we retired to bed (no christening of the tree, not yet), we managed to commiserate a minute. We held each other as we looked at the pretty lights in the tree, we giggled a little at the occasional muffled "GREASY" still emanating from Isaac's bedroom, we sighed and declared the night a success.

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