posts tagged with 'christmas'

our twelfth night

Usually the highlight of the twelfth day of Christmas in our house is getting to eat the gingerbread houses. But today I needed something to occupy my mind so while the boys were with their grandparents I made us a King Cake. Behold!

a yeast cake with glaze and sprinkle sugar on a plate

one more treat to finish off Christmas!

I don't claim to know much, or anything, about celebrating Three Kings Day. But in looking up the date of Twelfth Night (because I can't count, apparently) I saw a picture of the type of King Cake they make in New Orleans and it certainly got my attention! There's supposed to be a little plastic baby inside, but since we don't have any of those I used a Pichu figurine instead (Pichu is a baby Pokemon, for those of you not in the know). But sadly, nobody got it in their piece this evening! Does it still count when you find the baby in the leftovers?

Besides the cake, we also celebrated the end of the Christmas season by taking down our tree. We didn't quite get it out the door by sundown, but it was pretty close, and any witches would have had a hard time getting settled as we bustled around putting away ornaments. Over the last couple weeks the rate of needle dropping really settled down, though moving the tree out of the house knocked off about half of the remaining needles. Luckily Elijah was doing strong work on sweeping patrol.

What's next, now that Christmas is over? Who knows. Besides a lot of leftover cake!


haystacks of needles

We're mostly happy with our tree from the new supplier: we've really been enjoying its less-trimmed, more natural look, and it's gotten lots of compliments. But there's one thing that's bothering us, and that's the rate at which it's dropping needles! They fall off whenever you touch it, and let me tell you the dogs touch it a lot. With their tails, mostly. Two weeks ago I was sure it would be just bare sticks by Christmas, but happily it's not that bad. In fact it's still mostly green except on the outermost twigs. But especially with the presents now gone the drifts of needles beneath it are really noticeable. And of course they get tracked all over the house, too. My mom tells me their tree is shedding too; it's just been a dry growing season. Maybe, but ours is above and beyond! I think it'll make it ten more days, but it's going to be leaving a serious trail behind it when we take it out on Twelfth Night!

Christmas report

We had a delightful Christmas yesterday: according to Harvey, the best Christmas ever. That's down to his delight at getting the awesome Lego Galaxy explorer set, but also in giving a watercolor painting of our house to Leah and, with some help from Grandma, a Nintendo Switch for Zion. But even beyond the presents it was a good day, fun and relaxing in just the right measures.

Elijah opening a big present, Harvey looking on

what is it?!

We got started early: the kids were up before five, and I think I joined them downstairs not long after 5:30. But Leah had some things to do so it wasn't until 7:00 that we got to open the stocking presents. Then we ate the Christmas grapefruits and some cereal to tide us over until brunch and walked the dogs, and only then were we ready to open all of the beautiful presents under our tree.

When that was done and cleaned up we headed to my parents' house for a brunch spread with all the usual delicacies. Then we opened the presents, which lasted just the right amount of time. Grandma and Grandpa probably got the most presents, actually, which is totally appropriate given the lovely hospitality they were showing us. There was never a moment when we needed to stop eating! Of course, that's not really Leah's thing, so she left after we a little bit of post-lunch caroling.

We did get outside for an hour or so, to take in a little fresh air and exercise to balance out all the eating and sitting, then it was back to sitting around the fire and talking and building Legos. And supper, of course! Then home to bed. All in all, a pretty good day!

boys and grandparents walking in a field

kids running on sugar energy



We finally got to make gingerbread houses today! It was the usual chaos; more than usual, even, since I did something wrong with the dough and the pieces puffed up and spread out much more than usual. We ended up having to cut the edges straight after they came out of the oven, but that was fine. The kids—our boys and their friends—did more of the work than ever before, which made some parts of the experience easier and others harder. Since there's a fair amount of waiting when making gingerbread houses from scratch, we also watched the Phineas and Ferb Christmas special and took a long walk in the woods (long in time if not in distance; two-year-olds aren't so quick on their feet). It was a delightful day, and the houses came out pretty good too!

close-up of two gingerbread houses

the almost-final products

concluding the season

We said farewell to Christmas this evening, helped along by a beautiful Godly Play at Home Epiphany story that Elijah got to participate in over Zoom. We took down the tree; it was just as quick putting away all the decorations as it was getting them up a month ago. We'll miss it tomorrow morning—those lights really are the best—but it's also nice to have our school room table back (putting up a tree in our little house requires some compromises with the furniture). Of course, since we don't do king cakes or anything like that the real end-of-Christmas excitement for the boys comes from the ritual dismemberment of the gingerbread houses!

Harvey starting to take apart his gingerbread house

get that roof off

Like with the tree it's a little sad to see them go—such lovely decorations, and mine was my best in years—but now we have some shelf space back. Plus people sitting in that spot are no longer tormented by the smell of delicious candy and gingerbread, which is fine. And now we get to enjoy it in a more direct fashion. Our dessert plans for the next week or so are set!

Zion and Elijah eating their gingerbread houses

munch munch


700 words about this Christmas

We had a bit of a "less" Christmas this year. Fewer presents, fewer cousins, less food for Christmas brunch, less stress. Less photography. But it wasn't any less delightful! We started the celebration with an outdoor church service at 4:00 on Christmas Eve, which was lovely and cheerful despite the cold; the boys were warmed up by the presence of hot chocolate, giant doughnuts, and friends. And it was so wonderful to sing together! The only challenges were that it was just about impossible to keep candles lit in the breeze, and that driving home in the dark it was pretty confusing the boys that we hadn't had dinner yet. Not that there was much need after 1000 calories of doughnut! We did have a little salad, then after the final chapter of A Christmas Carol the boys headed off to bed.

our tree late on Christmas Eve

when not even mice were stirring

It's good they got an early night, because they woke up just a little past three in the morning raring to go. They didn't exactly get up at that hour, but there was definitely some excited whispering then, and again a little after four; then after five when Elijah woke up too it was a full-blown party in their room. After a bit of a later night wrapping the last few things and cleaning up I was a little grumpy at the morning's disrupted sleep and stayed in bed until close to six, but the crew downstairs was very patient and gracious as they waited out my mood. We did stocking presents before sunrise—lots of Rubiks Cubes and citrus fruits—and then had breakfast, giving the sun time to rise before we turned to the pile of presents under the tree.

Which while less numerous were no less well-received! We've been working on quilting in our school time so there were some quilted ornaments and accessories, and Harvey made an amazing sock-monkey octopus—socktopus!—for Elijah. Everybody who lost their water-bottle in 2021—Harvey, Elijah, and me—got a new one. The boys got new mittens and Zion got a snowsuit. I felt mature enough to buy Leah a piece of Art, but still cheap enough to frame it myself. And of course there were some lego sets, the making of which commenced immediately.

But only the little ones, because there wasn't time for anything big before we headed off to Grandma and Grandpa's. The drive was slightly treacherous in the freezing rain, but no more than our front steps; once we'd made it down them the hardest part of the journey was over. Legos came with us for later building, and they were joined by more once we started to open Grandma's presents. But before that we had to have our favorite meal of the year, Christmas brunch! I was sad for there to be no smoked salmon—not enough salmon eaters without cousins, now that Harvey is a vegetarian—but with eggs, bagels, donuts, ham, potatoes, and fruit, I barely missed it.

The second round of presents—third?—passed by pleasantly and calmly, then the rest of the day relaxed into a haze of enjoying the fire, the food, and new toys. The boys built some lego sets and played the new game Harvey got for the Switch, then I roused myself enough to play a couple rounds of the new board game I got him. At some point we did some singing together and, in a big moment, all three boys took a solo verse on "We Three Kings". I'm glad, because it means I don't need to ever do it again. They always make fun of my falsetto anyways. Somewhere around mid-afternoon we had dinner and there were thoughts of making it all the way to another meal at suppertime, but we didn't really get there. The early wake-up started to tell and by 7:00 we were ready for our beds.

Of course, first we needed to navigate the icy streets and our icy stairs again, and then read a chapter of the book we set aside for Dickens. And brush our teeth well after a day of uncountable desserts! Yes, I think that, even toned down, Christmas can count itself celebrated.

Elijah and Grandpa opening presents, Zion building in the background

this present delight


practicing for tomorrow

Zion has been telling me the past couple days that he's in training to get up early on Christmas morning. You might expect that it wouldn't be easy for him: most days he's much the latest riser in our house, on account of he stays up til all hours reading in his bed or else just wandering around the house wondering why he can't fall asleep. But I know that the same amazing willpower that keeps him awake evenings will let him pop right out of bed if he's motivated to do so, and indeed his training has been going pretty well so far. His appearances downstairs have been creeping earlier, and he even joined us for breakfast once or twice this week! This morning he and Harvey were up and talking not long after 4:00, which was maybe a little much; thankfully he made the wise choice to put himself back to bed and was able to sleep past six (Harvey and I were less successful at getting back to sleep). What'll happen on the morning itself tomorrow? I predict boys downstairs by five at the latest. Practice pays off, and who can wait to get to Christmas?!

bedtime Caroling

This week we set aside our current evening read-aloud chapter book—The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate at the moment—for a read through of that beloved classic tale, A Christmas Carol. Which I actually don't believe I've ever read! Or at least I don't remember it. Not the details, anyway; I'm of course very familiar with the storyline and the characters. But I've been surprised by how much I'm enjoying the writing. Probably some of my pleasant surprise is due to the fact that I last read Dickens in high school when he was being forced upon me, and I don't think I was ready. Or not prepared to be appreciative at least. Now in the 21st century A Christmas Carol is definitely holding our interest (even if I do have to stop and explain some of the scenes, for language and context; it helps that the period was solidly my area of study as an undergrad!). There's even been pressure to get some extra reading time in, but I'm holding firm: we've got to time it right to finish tomorrow night just before bedtime!

starting to look a little like...

Christmas prep has been a little lacking around here this year. We can barely cope with regular life! But we've been listening to Christmas music, and I guess today it finally kicked in because not only did we finally get the tree up, we also made gingerbread houses. The tree was easy: the boys are practiced professionals at putting on the ornaments, and they're also strong enough to help me move the furniture and manhandle the tree into the stand. Leah didn't have to life a finger! We installed it this morning, then decorated it after supper... leaving plenty of time to bask in its glow before bedtime.

Lijah and Harvey putting ornaments on the tree

one of them can even reach the top!

The gingerbread houses were a little more challenging. I had a work meeting this morning, so I made the dough and started cutting and baking pieces; but then I took off until lunchtime, leaving Leah and the boys to finish up the baking part. Leah lifted many fingers cleaning up and getting ready for our friends to join us for the construction. Then there was also the trouble of eating too much candy during the decorating phase: Harvey, Zion, and I felt distinctly woozy with sugar overload. Self-control is hard, man!

But now we don't need self-control, because for the next month the houses are decoration rather than food, and nobody would even think of nibbling (except the dogs; we have to pick display locations with them in mind). They came out pretty good! Yes, it's starting to look distinctly seasonal around here. Now all we need to do is start thinking about some presents!

Elijah's gingerbread house

it has a certain unique style, does it not?


best looking trees

We usually wait to get our Christmas tree until mid December, since we want to leave it up through Twelfth Night and those trees only have so much life in em. But this year the talk of grave shortages was unavoidable, so I started to wonder if we should move ahead of schedule. And when my mom pointed out that having the tree outside at our house was no different that letting it sit at the farm, that convinced me. So we went to get one yesterday.

Harvey posing as Chip-In's best looking tree

tree shopping tradition

It was a delightful outing with our friends at the end of our school day together, and once again I have to say how much I appreciate living right around the corner from Chip-In Farm. So much so that I didn't even mind (too much) paying an inflated Covid shortage price for this year's tree, 30% over last year's. Where else does the owner call you by name and offer to get the tree on your car? I felt bad that it took him longer to tie it on that it was going to take us to drive home, but he said he didn't mind.

Harvey and Elijah being silly holding up a tree for inspection

not the final choice

Besides the tree, we looked in at the animals, admired the new pony (who the littlest member of our group got to ride for a moment!), and enjoyed the general farminess. The kids got treats (the candy-cane fudge is only available in December!). We sat at the picnic table and loved life. And now we have a tree, and the news about shortages need bother us no more! (Although, now that I look back in the archives December 6 is only a couple days later than our average tree purchase date...)