So then the question becomes, how do we keep the fun without mommy becoming exhausted and teary? And it's weird, because I think the answer is a mix of short-cuts and unnecessary labor.
For example -- my own meals have pretty much devolved to what I ate in grad school -- big pots of curry. Thai or Sri Lankan, throw in a protein, some vegetables. Make a pot on Sunday with rice, eat for three days (often breakfast, lunch and dinner). Make another pot on Wednesday, eat for three days. I like it (mixed with some occasional fruit and cheese for snacking), and it is super-easy. It's not the way I would make Kevin eat if he were here, but he's not here, so. And for the kids, it's similar. Make a big pot of mac-and-cheese, and serve some of it for every dinner for a few days, accompanied by some cut-up bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, maybe some salami. That means dinner preparation is 5-10 minutes most days, for all of us. Short-cuts, which leave room for adding in some unnecessary labor.
I'm trying to do something festive with them every day, just so we can enjoy the season. It can be, and usually is, really small. Yesterday it was letting Anand pulse the candy canes for the truffles in the food processor, and taste the resulting powder, while Kavya colored in wooden Christmas ornaments.
This is not an extravagant amount of time I'm putting in here! Usually 15-30 minutes on any given day. But doing a little bit each day somehow is the difference between just enduring until we see Kevin again, and actually having it feel like a fun Christmastime. The little chocolates in the Advent calendar at night don't hurt either!