Christmas Day!

Jen's (Highly Obvious and totally Cliche) Christmas Morning Playlist

x Let it Snow - Diana Krall
x Driving Under Stars - Marika Hackman
x God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies
x 12 Days of Christmas - Sloan
x Someone To Spend Christmas With - The Spook School
x Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith
x Last Christmas - Coeur de Pirate
x Santa Baby - Wolf Alice
x O Come All Ye Faithful - Blue Rodeo
x White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
x It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Great Lake Swimmers
x Winter Song - Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
x The First Noel - Crash Test Dummies
x Moonlight in Vermont - Seth McFarlane
x Frosty The Snowman - Fiona Apple
x Last Christmas - Jimmy Eat World
x Christmastime - Smashing Pumpkins
x Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time) - Pearl Jam
Click here for a handy Spotify version!

Jen's Favorite Christmas Memory (which she would share!)

I was super young. Really young. Still Santa-Believing age sort of you, you know? We have a big family in Louisville and we usually traded off hosting holiday dinners. We hosted Thanksgiving so for Christmas Eve dinner we went to my Aunt's house. But when I say dinner it was more like a Lunch-Dinmer hybrid where we ate at 3pm and I was starved against by 7pm.

Anyway, these cousins of mine are a bit older than I am, sort of caught between Blaine and Ben's ages. They always had their own things going on and I mostly kept to myself. It was before I started acting out for attention, so I remember just sitting around watching TV in the formal living room. During one of the commercial breaks I shimmied over to the Christmas tree and started to look through the piles of presents. I couldn't BELIEVE it when I saw presents from SANTA. ALREADY. it was only Christmas Eveternoon!

I felt really confused and overwhelmed and I started to cry a little bit. I was gonna go find my Dad but Ben found me instead. Within a whole, like, 30 seconds of me crying into him, he could hardly contain himself when he confirmed that it was true - not only did Santa not exist, but only the "good" kids got presents under the tree early. I was devestated. My whole christmasy world was shattered that afternoon.

That night my parents were trying to urge me to bed early. "Santa is coming," my parents said and I was almost too dejected to care that they were lying to me. I went to bed and cried. And cried. And cried more, especially when I realized that while all the other kids got great gifts from Santa, all I got was hand-me-downs and off-brand toys, last years goods that are discounted in January - it wasn't that Santa liked these kids better, it was that their parents did. Worst night ever.

Blaine came to check on me. Usually, he did around 10 or so to make sure I had fallen asleep. I told him what Ben did and he told me that Ben was lying, he wanted me to get on the Neughty List tonight so he can recoup my Nice List presents. Mother Fucker. I fell asleep not long after that, that night. I believed Blaine.

The next morning, the living room was covered in proof of Santa's existence. Big wet spots on the carpet from snowy boots, lots of stray reindeer hair near the fireplace, on the sofa, cookies eaten with crumbs everywhere, spilt milk, a note back from Santa apologizing for spilling the milk.

Santa even crossed Blaine's name off of a few of his presents and gave them to me. The letter also said I was on the Ultra Nice List. It was a nintendo. That morning Blaine wrote my name on it in pink nail polish. Of course as I grew up I knew it was all his doing, he made Christmas magical again for me. My whole relationship with Blaine is one of the reasons why I've always wanted a big family. I want our kids to have that kind of unconditional love that you only get from siblings.

Ben was also craaazy grounded. He wasn't allowed to go out for NYE.

Christmas Morning

Christmas was one of Jennifer's favorite holidays... Correction, Christmas was Jennifer's favorite Holiday. It was a Holiday filled with happiness and family and celebration, eggnog (which she hates) and tinsel (which she didn't hate) and Christmas Morning traiditons that she wouldn't be in Louisville for. It was sort of bittersweet to close out that chapter in her life as she prepared to forage new traditions with Michiel, but necessary all together. There was something special about firsts, and this was arguably one of the most special firsts. Their day was planned, spending it with Tara, Hazel and co, but Jennifer was damned if they couldn't start at least one tradition that morning. Something just theirs.

The clock hovered around five in the morning when Jennifer first cracked a sleepy eye. The sun still hung low in the sky, not bright enough yet to illuminate their bedroom, but enough to brighten a navy sky to a truer blue. Beside her was Michiel, still asleep, a soft rise and fall to his chest that Jen couldn't help but watch for a minute, or two, mesmerized by even the slightest movement of his body. She loved even the way his chest filled with air and slowly expelled it, sleepy sounds he made when he rolled from side to back and side again. Her morning could have been spent watching him, coaxing him out of his sleep with her eyes, with her lips on his body - But not today. A parting kiss was pressed to his shoulder and carefully, quietly, she slipped from bed to start the day.

Her pajamas were shed in her path, hopefully leaving him a trail to follow when he finally did wake up. In the kitchen is where she would be found. Bare body wrapped in a Christmas apron, feet nestled in his slippers because hers ("well, all the fuzzies from the inside come off between my toes and I haaaaate them") were unacceptable, and her hands busy at work. Though she came from a traditional sort of Southern family and was raised with an awareness of a woman's "role," she wasn't much of a natural cook. Jennifer would blame her wondering mind but lately she had been making more of an effort in learning to cook. Chilis and stews were lock, but there was a burnt roast chicken earlier in the week and an even more-burnt pot after she forgot about boiling water for pasta. This morning would be different.

And it was different. Coffee, the one vice Jen was having trouble kicking, was a'brewing, the oven baked a pan of cinnamon rolls, a recipe given to them by her Dad and stove top where Jen was busy fussing with eggs. Eggs, her gratest kitchen challenger to date. They burnt so easily, the smelled so badly. She struggled to find the line between soft and hard boiled. Oh eggs, fuck you. But first, she did her damndest to tame the wild shelled beast. Pan. Butter. Crack. Wait. WAit. wait......Wait too long and it burns, don't wait enough and the yolk breaks on the flip. The sweat she broke was probably due to proximity to the stove and oven, but she knew, she knew the eggs were getting the best of her.

Then she youtubed it. How To Fry An Egg. Through her Youtube coaching team and a recipe she printed days prior, Jennifer successfully (with only 5 wasted slash otherwise burnt eggs) made uitsmijter - It was dutch with eggs and ham and cheese and it sounded like heaven. Plus, she could practically pronounce it: "outs-may-..s...ter...?" cue: Look of horror and worry that it was likely butchered (at least in pronounciation, not so much in taste.)

When Michiel woke up she would present her offerings: Coffee, cinnamon rolls, outs-may-..s...ter...?, but only after she mostly literally hugged and climbed up onto him. Her legs around his waist, arms loosely circled around his neck. "Good Morning," she would tell him, her lips fumbling over his, then his cheek and chin, over his jaw, nose, bridge of his brows. "I cooked for you."

Spongebob Three Hours Later.

Jen was nervous about this day with Tara. It was an extraordinary sort of situations but Jen had some experience with ex-wives. Though, no amount of experience really could prepare her for what it would be like to be face-to-face with her boyfriend's ex-wife. And not just her "boyfriend," no, he was very much her One and with knowing the pain he suffered at the careless hands of this was difficult for her on numerous levels. Still, she was adamant on being charming, polite and friendly. This was important, it was bigger than her feelings, she had to do well by him.

Michiel had a big life before her, a family before her, and even in her most bratty and selfish, she wouldn't punish him for his past, instead it was important to her to always support and help cultivate a healthy relationship with Tara - for Hazel's sake. That was really why Jennifer put her pride and heart aside on this day. And though when they originally made their Christmas Day arrangements Jennifer planned on being conservatively drunk all day, their path to parenthood prevented it. Fear not, there was an Oscar stashed in their linen closet that clained she was the Best Actress, she could get through this day.

Greetings were shared, and Jennifer was pleasant as an apple pie, as pure as corn flakes and a snack pack. An absolute delight, the girl even hugged Tara in the door way. Peace for Hazel, she reminded herself when she hugged the other woman in greeting. Hazel would soon snatch her attention, however, because hung off of Jennifer's arm were a few gift bags address to her, and her mother. As awkward as it was, Jen focused on pulling out excited smiles and laughs from Hazel.

Gifts for Hazel, from Jennifer: Butterfly Rearing Kit | VIP Membership to the Children's Museum of Manhattan (this part was especially touching to Jennifer: your contribution provides FREE family memberships for three (3) Head Start families in need) | Family Exporer Membership to the NY Hall of Science | Snap Circuits | and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Gifts for Tara, from Jennifer: A bottle of 2008 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red | Birthstone Necklace with Hazel's birthstone in it.

Overall, the day was alright. Jen remained light and comical, she was helpful and polite. Offered to assist in serving dinner, even smiled and ate the Portebello Steak and Kale Cauliflower rice that was given to her. She nursed a glass of wine as to not arouse any suspicions, and only had one minor breakdown during a bathroom break while everyone else socialized.

Doors were locked, tears were streaming, it was beyond weird. There were no parts of her that feared that Michiel would go back to Tara, she wasn't jealous, there was just a feeling of not belonging that she couldn't quite shake. The mature adult part of her recognized it would be something that would come in time, more gatherings, more dinners, school activities for Hazel, or any occassion that required a meeting of their complex family. It was a relationship that needed to grow and Big Picture Jennifer was fine with that. Overwhelmed On Christmas Jennifer was a little soft to it all. Regardless, she peed, she washed up and a pulled herself together and rejoined the festivities in the living room.

A long day saw an end eventually, parting salutations mirrored the greetings. Hugs and Wishes for a Merry Christmas, goodnights and safe drives. The tension that had built in Jennifer's shoulders melted the moment she climbed into the car - and didn't let him shift into drive. Night was around them and the stillness of the street provided enough privacy, Jennifer climbed into his lap - one leg on either of him, her body curled in and head resting on his shoulder. "I love you, I love you, I love you."

They had once joked about celebrating that night with All The Drugs, but instead, as she sat up and looked at him, a smile tugged over her lips, all she manged to say was a hushed: "Take me home"