posts tagged with 'christmas'

Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years

a present for Leah under the tree

sample present

We're still not back to our regular schedule—snow delayed Nelly and Nisia's flight out for a couple days, so we abandoned school work to go sledding with them. But the holidays are undeniably over, so it's past time to say a few words about how they went. For future reference.

We were a little distracted and scattered around the present preparation this year—most of us, anyways. After we got home from church at 10:00—from cleaning up and locking up, at a service where we also opened the doors and set up—I got to work on presents, as seems to be my tradition. New this year, Harvey joined me! The ship he was making for Zion wasn't done, so he wanted to put in some time to show he really does care.

a present with a big card Harvey made for Zion

present explanation

Never mind how many things were unfinished, Christmas morning saw delight all around.

Zion smiling over a big present

Christmas excitement

Of course, no one could be as delighted as Lijah after he got a gun and a giant candy cane in his stocking.

Lijah smiling with his gun and candy cane

yet more Christmas excitement!

There were also lots of legos, the first batch of which had to be put together before breakfast.

the three boys working on legos at the kitchen table

getting right to work

After we ran out of presents for Lijah to open we packed up what we had left and headed over to Lexington. They had a few more there.

the tree at grandma and grandpa's house

presents for all ten of us

We spent a lovely relaxing day leisurely opening presents—the kids needed to pause and play with each new one extensively—and eating constantly. (We did take a little walk in the middle to keep from dying.) It was nice to get to spend Christmas with the Africa Archibalds for the first time in a few years.

The day after Christmas we celebrated Hanukah with the Bernsteins. It was also charmingly relaxed, as pictured previously. There were more legos, and more weapons for Lijah, so it was a success. Harvey handled the dreidel work with aplomb.

We hadn't planned anything for New Years Eve, but when friends asked us about it we told them they should just come over. Then we said the same thing to more friends, and some relatives. So we ended up with quite a few people and had a very festive evening—one which ended before 10:00, which was great. And some of the guests even helped to clean up, which meant we started the new year well-rested in a clean house. Expect great things from us in 2017!

Clean as it was on 1/1, we (which is to say Leah) put in some more serious cleaning time in advance of 1/2, when we threw a brunch party for relatives who had never visited us before—and one of whom cleans other people's houses as a hobby. There was some tension leading up to the event, but in the event it was fun and easy, and seeing nine Archibald cousins (well, second cousins... and some of them are DiBellas) running around was a great way to spend the bonus federal holiday day.

Then we just had a week of hanging out with Nisia and Nelly, which was super fun. And now it's now!

more

extended vacation

the boys and Nisia getting ready to share a gingerbread house

cousins getting ready to share in the destruction

We had thoughts at the beginning of this week of getting back to routine, but it didn't entirely happen. See, Nisia—the boys' only first cousin—was still in town. Her Christmas visit this year marked the first time we saw her in a year and a half, and there's no way we could go about our regular school schedule with her around. And around she was! When someone comes to visit all the way from Africa you need to spend all the time with them you can. She capped off the visit with a sleepover here last night. Tomorrow she's headed back home to Dakar, but we have assurances it won't be quite so long before we see her—and her parents, naturally!—again.

To mark her departure we took down our Christmas tree this afternoon. A day ahead of liturgical schedule, sure, but it seemed appropriate. We also wanted to get it out of the way before we had folks over this evening. Harvey and Zion were ok with it going away, but Lijah found that he missed it when he came downstairs and saw the empty space (and all the needles swept up). Sure, he knew the cleanup was happening—even took down a couple ornaments himself—but the sight of the empty corner still made him a little upset.

To be honest, that wasn't the only thing that made him upset this evening. Maybe he's missing his cousin already. He's certainly missing the sleep and quiet time that he didn't get when he and his brothers were playing with her every day! Good thing it's the weekend—quiet day tomorrow, with no vacation to worry about. Maybe we can even do some school on Monday.

more

moments from the week

the kids lookin silly in front of Grandpa's tree

Christmas cousins

A few moments and images from the past week.

Zion working on legos

getting started

Lijah walking in a field

Christmas day walk

Harvey lighting the Hanukah candles

Hanukah simulcast to LA

me on the couch lookin at a book

I get to relax

the four kids working on gingerbread houses

the gingerbread factory

kids eating dinner at the playroom table in front of the Christmas tree

New Years party dinner

more

Christmas vacation doings

We're deep in vacation mode here at the squibix household. Not that everyone could really tell the difference: this afternoon I asked Harvey how he'd liked the vacation week and he asked, "what vacation?". You know, how we didn't do any school work? How Mama and Dada didn't go to work, except that one day when we wanted to give you an excuse to spend the day at Grandma's house with your cousin? Clearly we're not very driven, achievement-oriented people in our workaday lives. Still, to the extent that we have a regular schedule—and we've been working on it lately!—we've abandoned in the past week. Which is both lovely and exhausting.

As is often the case, the flood of new possessions into our house after Christmas and Hanukah has spurred Leah and I to desperate cleaning efforts. The basement is the main target, and we're making some progress. The boys' cousin Nisia is in town and we've been spending a lot of time with her. They hadn't seen her in a year and a half, but they picked up right where they left off in their play. We're looking forward to celebrating the end of this tumultuous year here tomorrow evening, then we have more relatives coming for brunch on Monday—relatives with very high standards when it comes to cleaning and decorating. And we still haven't made gingerbread houses yet! All of which is to say: vacation is tiring!

more

Christmas moment

Mama, Zion, and Lijah cuddling by candlelight at church

all is calm, all is bright

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I guess we can do this tree thing

We get our Christmas trees at Chip-In Farm, where we also get our supplementary eggs and other assorted grocery items. It's on the way back from Concord, so after our outing on Thursday we stopped by to look at Christmas trees. It's still early, if you ask me, but I was under some pressure from other members of the family; don't say I never listen to their needs!

Harvey face in the be-a-tree cutout, Zion smiling just in front

the best at Chip-In Farm

Trees at Chip-In might be a little more expensive than, say, Home Depot, but I'm happy to support the neighborhood farmers. And they do get good trees. Look at these delightful specimens:

three boys pretending to be Christmas trees

the cutest trees there

That was Tuesday; Leah and I got the tree up Wednesday night, and I told the boys Thursday morning that we could decorate it that evening if they were good. They were, or good enough, but then we couldn't find the lights. I think I used them all decorating the porch—all the ones that still work, that is. So this morning we went out and got some more, and before and after lunch we finally got the job done.

the boys decorating the tree

happy elfing

Harvey and Zion are both real helpers this year; aside from the lights, I barely did any of the decorating. Even Lijah wasn't any more destructive than constructive: he only broke one ornament, and was about even in how many he put on the tree versus the number he removed. I think it looks fine!

the decorated tree

here it is

more

Christmas day report

We had a low-energy Christmas prep season this year, but we were still all of us delighted to make it to Christmas day. And there were some presents.

the stockings filled up and lying on the couch

hung on the couch with care

The boys and I were out until 9:30 at church Christmas Eve, so it was a slow morning for Zion (the only one of us capable of staying asleep as long as he needs to in the morning). Rascal knocked over his stocking to get at the bone within at around 6, but the rest of us managed to wait for Zion before we opened up our stockings. Then, with breakfast awaiting us and Grandma and Grandpa's, it was straight on to the presents under the tree.

Harvey opening a present, Zion watching

opening in situ: it's too heavy to move

I made a sword for Lijah and a new, bigger and better musket for Zion; that present Harvey is opening above is a wooden treasure chest that I fixed and filled with Legos from the attic (Harvey's dream is to bring them all down one day). Leah got a box to hold spices in the cabinet, and a promise of more; she sewed me a CD holder for the car. But the best presents were the ones Harvey and Zion gave Mama.

baby Harvey and Zion smiling from the frames the big boys decorated

baby boys

We got $1 frames at the craft store which they decorated with paint and mod-podge, but the real value of the gift came from the care the boys took in picking out the photos. Harvey had the idea of doing a baby picture, but seeing himself as a baby thought he looked too nondescript, so he upgraded to the one-year-old version. Zion wanted one of himself as a one-year-old camping in Maine. We looked through a lot of pictures together.

Besides the home-made presents and old legos there were also some new lego sets. The boys put them together while snacking on gingerbread and pickles.

Harvey and zion building legos at the kitchen table

right to work

Then it was on to Lexington, where the ceilings are higher and the tree bigger. I asked Harvey and Zion to sit in front of the tree for a picture; Lijah heard me and joined in.

the three boys sitting in front of grandma and grandpa's tree

Christmas central

He's totally old enough to know what's going on this year, and he was enthusiastic about opening presents (and then about opening packaging and so on, until he had everything reduced to its component parts).

Lijah delightedly opening a present, Mama and Zion helping

delight

The bigger boys enjoyed getting gifts too, but Harvey especially was also excited about the giving side of things. He had an instant vision for Grandpa's present when I first asked him about it a couple weeks ago: he wanted to illustrate a summer day. So he did, and he was justifiably proud of the result.

Harvey and Zion watching Grandpa examining the drawing Harvey made him

eager giver

Besides the beautiful tree and abundant delicious food (which it would have been crass to photograph, and besides I was busy eating) my parents' house is also wonderfully suited to Christmas observances because they have a fireplace. Lijah helped tend the fire.

Lijah prodding the fire with a poker

fire boy

I must also note that Grandma and Grandpa entertained the boys wonderfully: Leah and I took a long walk together, just the two of us (well, with Rascal) which was a pretty nice present on its own!

After a long day of celebrating everybody was pretty tired, but when Grandpa started playing the Nutcracker on the piano Lijah still had enough energy to dance.

Grandpa playing the piano, Lijah dancing along

my sugar plum

A great end to a delightful Christmas day!

more

this moment

Lijah silhouetted against the Christmas tree lights and dawn breaking through the window.

early Christmas morning

A moment from the week.

oh, Christmas tree...

Our Christmas tree has it rough. The bigger boys did a great job decorating it, but even they—to say nothing of Lijah—can hardly resist playing with the more interesting ornaments. So those move around; and then there's all the ones they knock down sword fighting, hiding under the tree, or just walking past on the way out the side door. So our display of ornaments is far from static.

the Christmas tree lit up before sunrise

what it looked like yesterday morning (it changes)

And while we can just put the ornaments back up—again and again—the same can't be said for the needles. At just a week out of the store, the tree is starting to look distinctly mangy around its bottom portions; there are twigs with not a single needle the last inch or two of their length. It gets plenty of water, and it's still soaking it up nicely, it just can't stand the abuse—the loving, adoring, abuse.

Of course, it was a very nice tree to start out with, and from a distance it's still perfectly beautiful. And even up close, the damage just gives it personality. It's like a well-loved stuffed animal with fur missing in a few spots. Its appeal may have been starting to wear off after a week, but today we restored it completely by starting to put presents out under it. Zion could hardly bear to stay at the table to finish his snack this afternoon. "I'm gonna go shake my presents some more!" he called over his shoulder as he ran off.

So the tree, it suffers, but it suffers for love. It only needs to hold on 15 more days... I think we're going to make it.

more

bed humbugs

I find myself, this year, not so into doing Christmas. Most years I am the epitome of a Christmas elf. I stay up late every night knitting sweaters for my children and boiling moisturizing concoctions for all the ladies I know. I patiently roll out cookie dough with my children, and don't scream at them when the put a sigle cookie cutter RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the space, then pull the rest of the dough away in clumps to extract that one, tiny, lumpy star. I go to church and stand up front and scream with all my might, "OH COME OH COME EMANUEL!!!"

This year, whatevs.

I am depressed from sleep deprivation that has long ago passed the "stage" mark and gone into constant chronic immune system suppression. I started a new job and have not yet figured out how to schedule both motherhood and "work." Every time I look at my phone I am reminded that the world is a terrible place, where these concerns of mine are not so much a drop in the bucket, where the net volume of human woe is so so deep, and to many people this year Christmas will arrive and pass and it will not seem at all like Emanuel has come.

I have lost my Christmas hopefulness. Christmases have come and past and Jesus keeps being born and life does not get much easier.

What do you do when you feel this way? When all you want for Christmas is a nap? All advice welcome, practical, spiritual, or jokes.

more