Turned out that the reason Amelia was fussy Christmas eve was that she had stomach flu, which we discovered in the wee hours Christmas morning.
She's at that stage where she thinks pushing away the bucket might make her stop throwing up. Not my favourite.
All thoughts of possibly attending Christmas Day service went out the window. Amelia was miserable and we didn't wish to gift anyone else with stomach flu. The older two kids very excitedly dug through stockings and insisted on helping Amelia. She half-heartedly investigated her loot but she was really too ill to be terribly interested and we soon fled upstairs to quarantine.
I of course checked with our soon-to-be arriving family as to whether they wished to avoid our house. But, you know... Christmas dinner... Plus we figured everyone had been exposed already.
Elizabeth and Matthew were playing happily outside with our neighbours, Amelia was throwing up and miserable and the rest of us were preparing dinner and hoping desperately no one else succumbed.
We called the kids in to take off their snowsuits. Uncle Dave and Auntie Karen and kids arrived. Things were looking up... Then we discovered Elizabeth, sitting by the front door in a puddle of her own vomit. Apparently she had suddenly felt extremely unwell. She was terribly upset to be told she couldn't sit down for Christmas dinner or play with her cousins. "But it's Christmas" she wailed. Even Curious George was not really consolation.
Turns out I needn't have bothered with the isolation protocols because before long Xander holed himself up in the bathroom feeling ill. I think we might have set a record for the number of kids puking in our house at the same time. I hope it is never ever broken. Eventually Dave and Karen made a run for it, but they prudently borrowed a bucket. It was needed.
I settled in for the night with my two puking girls, banishing Daddy down to Matthew's room for a sleepover.
Since the priority had shifted to looking after the sickies, we decided to postpone Christmas pudding. Presents were hastily exchanged. And that's the moment the base of our tree decided to fail and the whole thing fell over, antique ornaments and all.
Christmas eve the kids participated in our church's annual spontaneous pageant. I felt the kids were suitably adorable, though Amelia was abnormally fussy. I chalked this up to being tired.
I'd been told we weren't going to get the Candle song this year, so I was thrilled when Rachel sang it at communion. Best Christmas Gift Ever!!!
After church we walked over to the parliament buildings to admire the lights set to music. It was very nice, especially the interesting prism lights which we discovered could spin around and around and around. The children were delighted.
We came home for Chinese fondue with Grandma J, opened our matching pjs, sprinkled the two sets of "raindeer food" that somehow showed up this year all over our yard and hurried the kids into bed.
I was pretty impressed that Yukiko and Chris managed breakfast cheese in Japan. We were thrilled to be able to eat "together" despite being so far apart physically.
This was probably the most difficult holiday meal for Auntie Janice as she can't have pickles, cold cuts, cheese, salad, potatoes or cookies - in short all the main components of our traditional raclette meal. Next time we'll have to try having a more formal dining space for the kids; they were pretty excited and had a hard time remembering that they couldn't attack Janice with their cheesy, pickly hands.
The cheese this year was from Quebec and was extremely nice. The number of options we have to contemplate for cheeses has really increased in the last five years or so. Not that we are complaining!
There were many cards and homemade boxes of fudge to make this year. We tried a new gumdrop fudge recipe that I got off one of those "Tasty" videos that play endlessly on Facebook and quite liked it. Matthew thought maybe we should give less away!
Elizabeth still has many teachers but agreed that it was acceptable to just give a card to her main teacher. I was extremely relieved.
Matthew had a few more people but worked hard on his drawings and especially writing his name (and hey - it's coming along!).
Andre didn't quite finish his gingerbread in the time he had to work on it, so he and Heather came back the following day. Heather showed us how to make special sugar icing using only sugar, which is amazing because it is Janice-safe! Basically you pour sugar into a pan, heat it until it melts and dip the edges of your structure into the sugar glue. When it cools it holds extremely well, but it is decidedly NOT kid friendly as an activity.
Janice had started making her own structure at the beginning of the day but as more people arrived we got nervous about the potential for cross-contamination so she opted to put it away for later.
I didn't even try assembling my own structure (a basic house) and while the kids put together theirs they didn't have time to decorate because they were too busy "helping" other people. So after church we had a decidedly calmer gingerbread part II in which we used up as much of the leftover candy as possible!
Janice made an ambulance, which was very fitting. Elizabeth made a Pikachu (with a tree and dance floor). Matthew made R2D2. He's currently very into Stars Wars, not that any of my kids have any actual idea what that is, but I guess they hear about it from friends.