posts tagged with 'christmas'

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

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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

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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?

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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...)

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our Christmas performance

While I've seen a bunch of Christmas trees out on the curb already (trash pickup was today in Bedford) it really still is Christmas, so it's not too late to show off a Christmas delight we participated in. Way back in late October I volunteered to be part of our Church's prerecorded Christmas choir—I was excited for the opportunity, because I'm usually too busy with Kids Church to participate. But when it has to all be recorded well before Thanksgiving? That I can do! In theory, at least: I did wait until the day it was due, as usual. But I got it done! If it was just me, I wouldn't bother to tell the world, but for one of the two songs the whole family got in there—and they liked us so much we're the last people to disappear at the final fade out. Check us out!

(I have to say, though, the sound of the choir is so good that it makes me think Matt, our music director, used ringers for the audio. Like maybe a prerecorded track by another choir? But never mind, we look good and that's definitely for real.)

Christmas report

We had a delightful relaxing Christmas on Friday. Excitement was high beforehand, as one would hope, two out of three boys were up well before the sun. The other, smallest boy was angry when he finally emerged (at a little after six) that no one had woken him up; but of course we'd all waited for him! The stocking presents were first, then we had breakfast and walked the dogs before we moved on to the ones under the tree. Which were mostly for the boys. They each got some legos, some Pokemon card products that included codes for online play (essential of course these days), and new pocket knives and water bottles. Harvey's knife is the real thing, as befits a child of the advanced age of 11; Lijah's is much smaller, appropriate for someone inclined to wave it around going "shing shing!". It does have scissors, which is useful.

As wonderful as that all was, what the boys were really looking forward to was going to Grandma and Grandpa's! I think they would have gone without presents before giving up their Christmas day with my parents—and especially the traditional Christmas brunch of bagels, smoked salmon, and doughnuts. Also lots of chocolate. The only tradition we missed out on was the carols: even though we sort of quarantined for two weeks before Christmas (we still had to go to stores, boo) singing together still seemed a bit too risky. We did wear masks too when we weren't eating, which, while admittedly a small proportion of the total time, felt like better than nothing.

In her longest stretch out of bed since her surgery Leah came along in the morning and stayed until all the presents were open. Then I drove her home and gave the dogs another walk in the rain through the flooded woods before heading back to vegetate for another several hours. There were lego sets to build and Pokemon decks to try out, and we all tried our hardest to work up some kind of an appetite for dinner. And pie! It was so relaxing I even had energy to help clean up the 10,000 little lego bits on the floor when it was time to go. Certainly, there were lots of things this year that didn't live up to their promise... but Christmas, at least, did all right.

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Christmas is coming

our christmas tree on christmas eve

presents accounted for

Well, we made it! I had some doubts—including as late as six this evening—but it looks like Christmas 2020 will happen after all. It's been a tough end to a tough year: I'm kind of falling apart trying to take care of the dogs and the boys and keep Leah from doing all the work she usually does. Plus I'm generally exhausted anyways. So the Christmas push was a little low-energy.

But there are presents under the tree and stockings on the couch and the boys are all tucked snug in their beds, asleep despite their quivering excitement before bedtime and ready to wake up as early as ever tomorrow morning. The most exciting thing is going to Grandma's house. Never mind presents, that's what they've been looking forward to for a couple months at least. It'll be a great day tomorrow. And now we rest. Merry Christmas!

tree time

We usually get our Christmas trees later than most folks, more towards the middle of December. That's officially because, following the traditions of our British fore-bearers, we keep it up through twelfth night in January; my general lack of focus and organization probably contributes too. But this year I had Leah's upcoming surgery to concentrate my mind, so I was sure to schedule a tree-shopping trip for a day when all five of us were able to be up and about to pick it out. That day was yesterday!

Zion, masked, looking through the face hole in the plywood

even the trees are masked in 2020

As you can see, it was pretty dark by the time we got to Chip In. That's not because of lack of focus, though: 4:30 was the only time we were all free at the same time! Fortunately, the dark didn't inhibit our ability to pick the best tree much, because there were only a handful to choose from. Some people might object to the small selection, but not us—as I've said before (somewhere in this blog, which I'm not going to track down to link), having only a couple of possible choices really saves us some time and mental work. And we always end up with a perfect tree anyways.

We decorated the tree this afternoon, while listening to selection from our extensive collection of Christmas music (14 hours and 51 minutes in the "Christmas" playlist!). I did the lights, fake cranberries, and ribbons; the boys handled the ornaments—and without breaking a single one! Harvey is tall enough now to reach all but the highest branches, though I was still required to put on the star. I wonder if I still will be next year?

It came out beautiful, as always, and we spent some time basking in its glow after supper. And it's a good thing we like it: it'll be here for the next month!

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