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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas at Home

Today is the eleventh day of Christmas. Although our Christmas was quiet and relatively calm, which was a relief after the craziness of the snow and ice, it has been busy enough to keep me from writing this post.

Since Rich was so busy up to Christmas Eve with airport duties and we were relatively housebound, a lot of the things we normally do for Christmas didn't happen until later. For instance, even though Rich had picked out and marked our tree sometime in September, he wasn't able to cut it down and bring it home until 1:00 a.m. on Christmas day. We didn't put up my bell wreath until Christmas Eve, or get the cedar garland until then either. Rich clipped the holly for the mantle when he got the tree, and that along with the cedar and fir didn't go up until the wee hours of Christmas morning.

Waiting until the last minute has its perks, however, as the greenery we put around our Advent wreath, the cedar garland and five gingerbread chalet kits were given to us for free. Rich had to stop at Trader Joe's for me, and they told him to take a box and a wreath. He told them he had five children who would want to make the kits up, and asked if he could buy four more and they told him to take them, along with the cedar garland.

Usually, Rich puts up our tree about a week before Christmas, gets the lights on sometime during that week and I decorate it after Christmas Eve mass. Then, the children wake up to the decorated tree which is fun for them, we open presents before heading to church for Christmas day mass, drop off some gifts for the folks at the NICU and visit with them a little, then either come home for dinner or go to a party at someone else's house. This year didn't go that way.

With all that has gone on in our church over the past six months, we weren't able to have a Christmas day mass, which was very hard. We did have the Christmas Eve mass, at our house. We never made it to the NICU, so Elijah couldn't talk to the doctors and nurses there. We did get the tree up and decorated after Christmas Eve mass, which meant that the children woke up to the whole tree experience, and not just the decorations, which was kind of neat. Going to bed at 5:45 a.m. was not as neat.

We also discovered, at 2:00 a.m., that the children had used all of the scotch tape I bought. All eight rolls of it. Rich found some packing tape and I was doing creative paper folding, but we found one lone roll in with the Christmas decorations and used that.

We nearly missed being the absolute worst parents ever. Now, our children understand that Christmas is not about the presents and that the presents are just the bonus, but we had seriously neglected Elijah in the gift department this year. My list of gift ideas for him didn't pan out, and so while everyone else had a few presents of their own, plus the presents for all of them, a mix of fun and useful, he had a group present and socks. White socks. We realized this Christmas Eve day. So, I rattled off my list of things that I had wanted to get him, but hadn't found, and Rich found them for him. Whew! Disaster averted.

The children were absolutely sweet. We woke up around 8:30, they let us sleep in without pestering us to get up for presents, all of them were up, dressed, and sitting in front of the lit tree, they had even set up a chair for Jerome and kept him from messing with the tree and just waited for us. No presents were opened early, no whining, nothing. It was such a treat for us.

We are not extravagant with their presents. They each got about four or five things that were just for them and a few things that were for all of them from us, then there were the gifts from their godparents and grandparents and such. It was such a joy to watch them, throughout the month, making gifts, giving up toys that had been theirs to give as gifts to younger siblings, working on surprise performances for the family, all of that cozy, Christmas comfort. I hope they never outgrow it. Dominic especially went all out for everyone. He made gifts for all of his siblings - jewelry for Amira and for me. The first thing they did, though, was to look for the baby Jesus in the creche. They all told us how Elijah was the first to find Him.

As for the rest of the day, we had Fr. Michael over for dinner. Since his folks weren't able to make it, we had tons of food. Roast beef and turkey, and all the trimmings, plus chocolate cheesecake and candy cane ice cream. It was lovely. We watched It's a Wonderful Life, sang Christmas carols, prayed together. In the days afterward, we've put their gingerbread houses together, made and decorated cookies, watched more Christmas movies, lolled about and enjoyed our time as a family.

We are now preparing to finish off the final days of Christmas and move on to Epiphany. After that, we'll be back in the normal school schedule and all the doings about our home. I'll post some pictures soon and tell you a little about our anniversary as well. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, that you were able to ponder the incarnation, the first coming of the Lord, and look forward to His return.

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