“Well, we’re in the midst of it.” You hear yourself say to yourself with a sigh. Winter Break. Christmas Vacation. The “Holidays”. And, you want to be that Mom. Really you do. You know, the one who is fun all the time. But you see, you have a “noise aversion”. And with each day that draws Christmas nearer your children become that much more excitable. Louder. And you become that much more irritable. Cranky. But, you can’t really be angry with them. No. Because they are truly just giddy with glee. And you want to feel their glee but all you feel is the pounding.
The pounding brought on by your sweet 13-year old daughter, who for no real apparent reason other than sheer joy, starts running through the house. And, at almost 5 feet 8 inches tall….bless her heart….well, those are loud footsteps. And of course, her brothers who adore her every move (especially the 11-year old) start following her, swinging over the furniture like chimpanzees. And then the 5-year old, who isn’t quite as adept at the “swinging” as his older brother, gets stuck atop a chair and almost knocks over a snow globe as he tries to swing his leg around…a gigantic snow globe. (Never mind the fact that they are not even supposed to be “climbing on the furniture”.) It’s at that instant that you feel the stress level in your body move up a notch.
But somehow you keep moving forward. Stress and all. Checking things off your list. And you manage to get everyone into bed after which you collapse into yours and fall sound asleep. Only to wake up at 5:30am thinking about what you need to get done that day.
So, you quietly slip out from under the covers and head downstairs. You flick on the lights of the Christmas tree which sparkle against the windows and a still dark sky. You sit down at your worn kitchen table…the one that has stoically held up after years and years of “art” projects….with your cup of tea. In the background, your current favorite rendition of Silent Night is playing. Silent Night. Your favorite Christmas carol. The one you sing to your 5-year old every time you tuck him in. The one you used to sing to your older children until it was too awkward to tuck them in with a lullaby. And you enjoy the stillness of the moment.
It’s not long before you hear a door open and then, the sound of lego pieces “clicking” against each other. The 5-year old is up. You rise from your seat and head into the kitchen. As you stand at the counter slicing apples and pears, you notice that the sky is starting to brighten. Your slices quietly saute in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and your oatmeal gently gurgles next to them. Your two eldest slip down the stairs…awoken by the warm smells. They both have those sleepy eyes. You know the ones. Those eyes, no matter how old they get, are the same ones that looked at you when they were sleepy babies.
You call them over to the table and set down bowls of oatmeal topped with the cinnamon apples in front of them. Your husband kisses you on the cheek as he heads off to work and for just a moment, everyone is awake and everyone is calm.
And then, the sugar from the apples hits their systems and its back to swinging over the furniture but you tell yourself you can persevere through the chaos because you know tomorrow morning, a little slice of calm will be waiting for you.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays…Season’s Greetings! Wherever you are and whatever you may celebrate, I hope a little bit of silence finds you amidst the bustle of the holiday season.
I’ll “see” you after we ring in 2011. Happy New Year!
Fragrant Oatmeal Topped with Spiced Apples
I love oatmeal. It’s probably my favorite breakfast dish. I’m always trying to find ways to entice the kids to eat the homemade version as opposed to the kind that comes in a little packet. They LOVED this. If you don’t like your oatmeal too “milky”, you can always substitute water for the milk. I prefer that my oatmeal isn’t too sugary but you can add more honey if you like yours fairly sweet. Also, you can substitute the apples with a good baking pear such as Bosc if you’d like.
1 c milk
1/2 to 1 c water (less water equals a thicker oatmeal)
1 c rolled oats
A pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, etc.)
2 tbsp light brown sugar (I didn’t pack mine down too tightly.)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Optional: toasted walnut pieces
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring your milk, water and salt to a boil. Stir in your oats and vanilla. Reduce heat and let simmer on very low heat 5-15 minutes depending on the consistency that you like your cereal. Stirring occasionally. Once it’s done cooking, stir in your honey, remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick pan, melt your butter. Add your apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Saute, stirring occasionally, until your apples are tender, about 5 minutes.
Spoon your oatmeal evenly into four bowls. Top with your cinnamon apples and sprinkle with walnuts, if desired. Enjoy….
Yield: 4 small bowls of oatmeal or two large ones
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010