1.  First things first. I think it’s clear to everybody that we don’t have young kids seeing as I’m writing a 40 things post on Christmas Eve.

2.  For the record, I believe strongly in the resilience of children.

3.  Some kids will remember 2020 as the year Dr. Fauci vaccinated Santa so he could safely deliver toys.

4.  Some might have very little, even nothing at all, under the tree but hopefully Christmas joy shows up anyway.

5.  Even with the weirdness of a covid Christmas the kids will be okay.

6.  Also for the record, it should bother everyone that some kids won’t see any difference in their Christmas at all.

7.  I get it. There’s a pandemic. Millions of people around the world have been affected.

8.  But we live in a country where billionaires got richer, the well off are still fine, and everybody else ranges from barely hanging on to completely wiped out.

9.  It’s disgraceful. It really is.

10.  My prayer tonight is that regardless of circumstance every little one wakes up tomorrow surrounded by love.

11.  The rest goes something like this: and please, God, get the government off their collective ass so they send people drowning in debt and danger real help. Amen.

12.  It’s not my typical Christmas prayer, that’s for sure.

13.  Anyway, our Christmas Eve looks way different than it used to.

14.  No more tracking Santa, sprinkling reindeer oats in the yard, putting out milk and cookies, or convincing the kids that bedtime would make Christmas come faster.

15.  These days it’s more like hanging out, watching movies, snacking, then placing bets on how late the kids sleep the next morning.

16.  Spoiler alert: it’s never as late as I think it’ll be.

17.  I’ve really grown to understand why my dad insisted gift opening couldn’t start until he had his coffee. Bless.

18.  Christmas morning traditions including eating ridiculous amounts of candy followed by cinnamon buns.

19.  Not any of those fancy homemade cinnamon buns, either. These are pop the can and bake the dough buns. The kids don’t seem to mind.

20.  Then again, I’ve never fed them the homemade kind. Probably smarter that way.

21.  You know what was a smart thing to try? This creamy garlic parmesan pasta. Were there snags? Sure, but overall it was a win.

22.  First of all, the sauce is divine. I told the kids it was fettuccine because that was simpler to say but this sauce is much more flavorful with a bit of zip.

23.  I liked the idea of making it in the Instant Pot. Get everything prepped and in the pot and voila! Dinner’s ready eight minutes later. That’s the concept anyway. I hit a few glitches. Some notes about my cooking:

24.  I doubled the recipe because we’re pasta people.

25.  I accidentally bought fettuccine instead of linguine so I used a different size/shape noodle than the recipe called for.

26.  I also got gluten free because I didn’t want to miss out.

27.  Again, the pasta was delicious so you might wonder what my glitch was. I’d say the biggest obstacle was how much of the pasta stuck together.

28.  In the end I had to pull chunks out, separate the strands, then return it to the pot. Time consuming and frustrating but ultimately worth it.

29.  With that many variables there’s really no way of knowing if the clumping was due to overcrowding, noodle type, or that they were gluten free but we loved it so much I’m going to try the stovetop version.

30.  I just noticed that the stovetop recipe calls for fettuccine noodles so maybe that does make a difference in the Instant Pot. Hmm.

31.  The kids are finishing up their first week of holiday break and I cannot tell you how badly we all needed this.

32.  No early alarms and rush to get to class on time.

33.  No debates over whether to eat something and if there’s time to finish it before logging on.

34.  No timing chores based on who’s in a live class. No worrying about Phoebe barking like a maniac while someone’s in Spanish or mad dashes to the printer with Gracie sprawled across the floor.

35.  No homework, no balancing act, no making sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.

36.  Things have gotten better since Bear moved her work station to the basement. Working on separate floors means less distractions and that’s always a good thing.

37.  Their school extended winter break by a week. Hopefully those extra days will give holiday exposure symptoms time to surface before students reenter the building.

38.  Nothing is normal. Or rather nothing is what used to be considered normal. Learning, hanging out, sports, clubs – they’re adjusting to new in every single area of life.

39.  I just keep telling the kids to hang in there, that it won’t last forever. I don’t know what comes next but I know it will be better than now.

40.  Seven more days until we can kiss this year goodbye. I’d love to see 168 uneventful hours usher us out the door and into 2021. I know, unlikely, but a girl can dream.