The Christmas We Ate McDonalds And Made The Best of It

mcdonalds for Christmas

Have you ever experienced a holiday that didn’t turn out so picture perfectly? 

Maybe you can look back on it now and laugh about it. Perhaps it made more of a memory than your plans would have allowed.

We found ourselves in quite a pickle this Christmas, but it left us with good memories and a few laughs at our own expense, because sometimes the best memories are the unplanned not so perfect ones.

We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family the weekend before Christmas and with Brad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. Which left Christmas Day to celebrate with our “little” family.

Just the six of us.  A “quiet” holiday at home.

We had brunch late in the morning – breakfast bowls and Pioneer Woman’s World Famous Cinnamon Rolls. The boys lounged in their pjs most of the day, played with their new treasures, and curled up and watched Polar Express together. It was going simply and perfectly. I planned an easy dinner, so that I could spend time with my family, rather than being stuck in the  kitchen. I put some chicken in the crock pot with a lime marinade, planned a no brainer side; It wouldn’t be a gourmet feast, but it would do.

Or not.

Around 4pm the boys were down for a nap, and I checked in on my slow-cooked dinner.  I stirred it a little and instead of smelling like a wonderful tender cooked chicken it smelled completely unappealing.  I had Brad sample it for me, and bless him for his honesty, he broke it to me that it was not so edible. 

No problem.  Plan B.

I’ve pulled lots of Plan B dinners together before – not to fear.  However, I looked in the fridge and pantry and discovered that the trifecta of all ingredients were completely depleted. No bread, no eggs, no milk. 

How in the world could a quad mom be out of the three essentials of all kitchens on Christmas Day? How could I be so unprepared and empty-handed? 

I started to rack my brain of someplace to get a decent dinner on Christmas.  I turned to Google of course, but came up empty handed except for one remaining idea.

I made a phone call and found that they would be serving food until 7pm.  It would have to do. “We’ll laugh about it later and make some memories”, I thought out loud.

And that’s just what we did.

We loaded the boys in the van, their new Christmas airplanes and helicopters in hand, and headed out in the cold.

The boys ran off some energy in the wide open spaces, gazed at the giant Christmas tree, greeted travelers with a cheery “Merry Christmas!”, and could have flown their planes on the luggage carousel “runway” for hours. And who could forget the Christmas dinner feast of McDonalds for the boys and Qdoba for the parents at the airport terminal?

luggage carousel   

Was it my finest hour as a mother?  Not really. 

Did the boys know any differently or judge me for depriving them all the holiday fixin’s? Sure didn’t!

Did we make the most of it and make some great memories while we were at it? Absolutely.

airport on Christmas Day

It was a not so picture perfect Christmas and it was wonderful. McDonalds and all.


43 thoughts on "The Christmas We Ate McDonalds And Made The Best of It"

  1. Sara Siefert says:

    We had a memorable -not quite planned Christmas too. We spent it in the hospital and Charis had an appendectomy.

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Oh NOES! Hope she’s recovering well. So sorry to hear about your unplanned time in the hospital.

  2. Heather L. says:

    I love it!!! It’s amazing how happy kids can be. We were eating chicken soup as it was day13 of 14 days of stomach flu!!!! A very different Christmas for us….

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Oh Sweet Friend! I hope the end has arrived. We’ve been through it this year 2x and it was not a memory I care to recall. Hope you are all germ free and happy!

  3. Suz says:

    Love it! The boys will remember “that time we got to go to the airport & played with our planes and had McDonald’s! That was the BEST!”

    1. QuatroMama says:

      I hope they are old enough to remember the fun memories we shared!

  4. megryansmom says:

    Maybe you could make it your new Christmas tradition. I see a McDonald’s ad endorsement here!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Too funny! I don’t think that would be good on the quad “leftovers”. =)

  5. Kara says:

    Thats so funny!! But quite a fun adventure!! I bet the boys LOVED the airport so they couldn’t care less! 🙂

    1. QuatroMama says:

      You know them – they just needed some place to RUN! =) They loved every minute of it! Hope you had a great trip to MI!

  6. Tracey says:

    You are so creative, I would never have thought of the airport. Great job making memories while making do, Mama!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Thanks, Tracey! It certainly wasn’t as I had “planned” but it turned out being an unforgettable Christmas memory!

  7. kd says:

    Your chicken/lime sounds delicious to me! Very curious why it seemed inedible? (Is that even a word?)

    Some of the best times of my childhood were when our g’pa would take us to watch planes at the airport, so I’m SURE you made wonderful memories for your boys!

    Happy 2011 to you & yours…love your blog and honesty of your blogging!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      I have no idea what went so wrong. It seemed like a good idea, but there was something definitely “off” with the marinade.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement today! I love being able to share our journey – the good, bad, ugly, and the bloopers. Thank you for reading and being a part of our story!

  8. Heather B says:

    What a wonderfully fun place for your boys to spend Christmas!!! I bet they had a BLAST!!!! Love when plans get changed into great memories!!!!!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      It all worked out – and I think it was better than I could have “planned”. Going to check out your Christmas Cookies post now… =) YUM.

  9. Jen says:

    LOVE IT! I love how go with the flow you guys are and how you can make any experience the most fun ever! What a Christmas to remember! Merry Christmas!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      You gotta roll with it sometimes, right? =) Hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well, Jen!

      1. Jen says:

        Thank you, we did! :o)

  10. i love that you guys ended up there. 🙂 this makes me want to have kids even more .. just getting to make memories like that. so fun! 🙂 i’m glad you guys had a good christmas!!

  11. Sonya says:

    I’m sure they loved it! We have done McDonald’s on Christmas Eve before and my mom made us eat it on the good china! We also had Denny’s for Christmas one year when we were in FL! I think there was also a time when Thanksgiving dinner was Burger King on the beach! It’s a great memory!

  12. Suzy says:

    HA! Makes me think of “A Christmas Story,” eating Peking duck at the Chinese restaurant (fa ra ra ra ra!). We had a similar experience here this year in that I’d asked my mom to make Peruvian duck for Christmas dinner, only we didn’t have time to run to the grocery until Christmas Eve … and by then, the stores were closed until Sunday! Oops!

    Keep up with me, Ted, and our Fab Four at

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Awww Yes, the Chinese restaurant – how could I forget! Hope you had an awesome time with family celebrating Christmas and birthdays!

  13. It really is like your own personal A Christmas Story scene! I didn’t have anything like that this year, however, nothing I planned went as planned. And for Christmas dinner I ended up eating Nutella with French bread instead of the pork loin on our menu. 😉

  14. Jill Miller says:

    Jen…I just completely laughed my head off! I absolutely love that you guys ate at the airport…you make even that sound like fun and the boys looked like they loved it…it was like their own special Christmas surprise! I love, love, love reading your blog…my mom got me hooked on it and it’s always something I enjoy! Hope you guys had a Merry Christmas!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Oh Jill! I miss you, Friend! Glad I gave you a laugh! It was too funny not to share! So glad you like hanging out here with us! Love to you and your family!

  15. Sweet Memories for sure. I am sure they will talk about the McDonalds Christmas for years to come. Heck you may have just started a new tradition. At least you were able to enjoy family the days prior and then just chill and relax with those handsome boys of yours. I cannot imagine the pitter patter of little feats and the squeals of delight from them Christmas Morning. Hope you had a blessed Christmas and creating new memories. 🙂 Sherri (HoundDogMom)

    1. QuatroMama says:

      It was truly a joy. Thanks, Sherri!

  16. Cat Davis says:

    You know what, I think it was brilliant. Sometimes **** happens and you gotta do what you gotta do.

  17. Ellen says:

    Just de-lurking to say that your Christmas sounds awesome for the boys. I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old and I am sure they would love Christmas at the airport! How fun!

  18. This is fantastic. You were all together and made a great memory. And what boys don’t love airplanes?

  19. Carol Kossman says:

    What a great idea for them! Just shows that all of our supermama cooking ideas aren’t necessary for happy and full little tummies. And, if I ever ran into these four cuties in an airport, it would be a present for me just to get to watch them!

  20. Jen this is so awesome! It will be a positive memory for years to come! Did you have to park in short term parking and take the trolley in?

  21. kelly says:

    Love love love your story… I bet the boys loved their McDonalds adventure way better than the crockpot chix!! 🙂 It was the last gift of christmas!

  22. That is hilarious and awesome all at the same time!

  23. That is hilarious!! I’m glad you can laugh at it now! at least it was just the 6 of you and you weren’t cooking a failed meal for a slew of guests!!! I’m sure the boys LOVED hanging out at the airport! I know my kiddos would!!

    We had an awful Christmas last year – I was just getting over the flu, my hubby and son had the flu, I had pink eye and my daughter had Hand, Foot and Mouth. We were stuck at home with only the cheesy potatoes we’d planned to take to my Mom’s. I can’t even remember what else we made to go with it (I think it was just hot dogs b/c no one really felt like eating since we were all sick). I remember my daughter threw a tantrum and fell asleep while we ate, my son refused to eat and my DH got a phone call right before we sat down, so our meal was pretty much just my son and I, picking at our food. 🙁 Not the best Christmas ever, but we thankfully were able to celebrate the following week with my family.

    Happy New Year!

  24. FishMama says:

    That is priceless! LOVE IT!

  25. Just got around to reading and Stumbling this post. Great post and great memories! Sounds like it made Christmas 2010 MORE fun and memorable than staying home! And an airport McD’s more exciting than a regular one 😉

  26. Seriously- you will be telling this story forever. How fun.


  27. Sioby says:

    AH! I LOVE this post!! What a FUN Mommy you are, Jen!!! Your boys will always remember Christmas at Mcdonalds!!! Seriously, that is CREATIVE! Who would have ever thought the airport when nowhere else is open!!! WAY TO GO Jen!!

  28. Wendy says:

    Never would have thought of that! If you ever happen to find yourself in this pickle again, Four Seasons on Shadeland Ave. is always open for Christmas dinner. We happened upon them in need of dinner a few years ago – the boys in their pajamas and all!

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Good call! I’ll have to keep that in mind if we ever get in a bind again! PJs would have made it even better!

  29. Absolutely loved this! You will probably find it to be the most memorable Christmas after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *