Category Archives: Christmas

A Fond Farewell

Christmas break is over for MusicMan — he gets on a plane this afternoon to head back to college. Classes don’t actually start until Monday, but I felt obligated to build in a few extra days of travel time into the schedule “just in case” the weather became a factor in getting him back to school.

Here is our group of musical college students playing “We Three Kings” on handbells. One young woman is in her last year of college, 2 of the other young women are college sophomores, and the remaining 4 ringers  (including MM who forgot to wear white, so he’s the one in blue!) are first-year college students. This group practiced one evening (the Tuesday prior to Christmas) and once again Sunday morning before performing at 11am.  As the director says at the beginning of the video, the music being played was written for 11 ringers but is being played by a choir of seven.

Pretty good, aren’t they?  🙂

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The after Christmas party

Baby, it’s cold outside…

Susie is once again hosting the (6th annual!) blog Christmas Party. This year she changed things up a bit and is hosting it after Christmas, but I like to point out that there are 12 days of Christmas so really, it’s right on time! At least that is my excuse when the cards get sent out in early January…

I’ve been laying low for the past few days.  The house is not perfectly cleaned, but the cat has warmed a spot for you on the living room sofa.

The kids have eaten most of the cookies — and I’m afraid they’ve gobbled up the chocolate-covered pretzels, too —  but please help yourself to a slice of Stollen while I boil water for tea.  The coffee is right over there next to the fridge  if you’d like a cup of java instead; I just made a fresh pot a few minutes ago.

You are welcome to sit and rest and enjoy a cup of something warm, while we talk and listen to the wind chimes sing.

From my house to yours

Merry Christmas!

Black Friday? No No No!

...visions of sugarplums...

1. We have made it past Thanksgiving here in the USA, so I am declaring it officially acceptable to deck the halls and over-play the songs that will be blessedly absent from the airwaves one month from today. 

2. Please don’t think that I hate Christmas music. I actually like it very much, the classier the better! But too much of anything — be it candy canes, chocolate, egg nog, or dogs barking “Jingle Bells” — is bad for you. I speak with the voice of experience.

3. That goes for shopping, too.  Too many people, too much focus on spending money and finding the “right” gift  (which of course seems to cost way too much money)… it makes me stressed just thinking about it!  The crowds and the greed take away from the joy, the lights shining in the darkness, the focus on God and family — and aren’t those the things that we truly treasure about this time of year?

4.  I’m not all Bah Humbug! I’m still enjoying looking for the perfect t-shirts for family members. This one didn’t make the cut, but it did make me laugh:

5. SuperDad and I plan to trek into The City this afternoon for one of those 90 minute presentations that supposedly will earn us free airline tickets and 2 nights free at some hotel/resort.  We have no intention of purchasing a time-share, which I assume is the purpose of the presentation; we just hope to score free transportation and/or a weekend getaway. Now that I am writing this and sharing it with you, it all strikes me as very funny (funny-peculiar, not funny-haha). If I recognize the contradiction here, does that keep me from being a hypocrite? Because while I am not out participating in the madness referred to as “Black Friday” and busily pointing out the greed that runs rampant this time of year, I fully intend on wasting several hours of my afternoon and evening trying to wrangle a too-good-to-be-true deal.  

Meet me halfway

Today is November 16th. I’ve passed the halfway point for NaBloPoMo, so I ask for your indulgence while I break a vow of silence about — wait for it —

Christmas.

Shhhhh…..

It’s not that I want to start thinking about shopping for gifts. But I must, if I’m going to shop online, order items to be sent to my house, and then mail them out to their recipients. I’ve waited before, only to have things arrive too late to mail or, perhaps worse, the item is out of stock and I have no backup plan.

Catalogs have been arriving at my house by the mailbox-full, and already there are some dog-eared pages and items marked by wishful thinkers.

Since I have committed to posting every single day this month –no easy task for me, you can be sure– I hope you will meet me halfway by doing a little virtual early shopping. Maybe you will even find something you like! Today’s treats come from the Wireless Catalog:


This T-shirt is perfect for those Scandinavian relatives.


Humorous-Juniorous likes these two (above and below)

Procrastination. It’s what I’ll do…. tomorrow.

Perhaps I’ll even present you with more gift ideas… tomorrow.
But I think for today — because it is TUESDAY —  I’ve done enough.

You’re welcome. 😉

Stressed for Success

My husband worked on December 24th. I questioned him, as I handed him his morning coffee, if the commuter trains were actually going to be running that day. I suggested he drive into The City instead. He pulled out the train schedule and assured me that there was indeed a train to catch. I reminded him that 3 of his 4 children (and his wife!) were participating musically in the 6pm “family” worship service and it would be nice if he caught an early train home; otherwise, the 2 oldest boys would be a part of the 8:30pm service and he could join us then.

So at 4:55pm, when I am already running late… in sweats, trying to get 4 boys changed into dress clothes and what was I going to wear myself?… the phone rings with SuperDad’s special ring: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

He thinks he’s on the wrong train, but he’s not sure.

I tell him I can’t talk, we have to leave (like, 10 minutes ago) but to text me when he knows for sure.  I haven’t even pulled out of the driveway when I get a text message. He’s on the wrong train. I hand the phone to a boy and tell him to text for me: I’ll pick you up after the first service is over.

I get 3 more texts (sheesh!) while I’m at church. We ring, I sing, we ring some more. We hand in our bells, put away our gloves, and squeeze past everyone chatting and shaking the pastor’s hand. So much for wishing folks a Merry Christmas! I leave it to the oldest boy to explain our rapid departure.

I note that I have about 1/8 tank of gas, because I wasn’t planning on driving anywhere this weekend. I get stuck behind pokey drivers who don’t know where they are going (I’m talking about you, out-of-town relatives!) or are afraid of well-sanded roads… or maybe they just want to look at the lights? Anyhow, no one is speeding and that is what I want to do! Meanwhile, H-J is programing our destination into the GPS that was thankfully left in the minivan.

Glory be! After 20 minutes of doing the hokey-pokey, we hit 4-lane divided highway with a 80mph 65mph speed limit. Sadly, it doesn’t change our arrival time, but at least I feel like I’m getting somewhere!

7:56pm. There is the restaurant that SuperDad wisely took himself to (he texted me during church that he was having a steak and a beer!!) because no one else has time for supper tonight. Truly, I don’t mind — I’d rather he was happy & fed and not at an empty train station.

Buckle up and hang on, honey! No comments allowed on my speeding driving, because I just want to get back and actually sit down at church (unlike the first service). I know the roads well, that 80 mph 65mph road and the rest of the way back. Oops, that would be the “feed me” light for the gas tank. Will we make it? Maybe if we slow down… but only for the 2-lane highway.

We make it back to town, wondering if we should stop and gas up. It’s 8:35pm and the BP station is closed. The 7-11 is open, but it is on the wrong side of the street and has a line-up of cars. Besides, church started 5 minutes ago!

We make it to church 15 minutes late. The 2nd Advent candle has been lit and the pastor is calling for the Passing of the Peace… Christmas Peace.  I need some of that!  We shake hands on our way to the seats that SnakeMaster & Humorous-Juniorous have already found. SuperDad stands out in his work uniform, but I am just glad to be there and to have him next to me. To sit and listen once again to the Christmas story. To see and hear MusicMan ringing with the adult handbell choir. To see and hear EncyclopediaBlue singing with the adult choir. To hold my candle, tilt it and light it — and pass on that light. To sing Silent Night by candlelight.

After the service is over, we drive to 7-11 and buy 19 gallons of gasoline.

________________________________________________

Steve Martin & John Candy in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”  from Google images

It happens every year

I’d show you pictures, but that would take time I don’t have right now, so I’ll just make a short list:
1. fudge supplies still on counter – unused
2. first batches of cookies eaten, so…
3. need to make more cookies
4. most Christmas cards still in larval stages
5. higher numbers on the bathroom scale (see #2)

SOMEDAY I’ll actually have my act together.

Susie’s 5th Annual Blog Christmas Cookie Party

Merry Christmas! Please come in out of the cold and help yourself to a cookie…

Spritz and Gingersnaps

Chocolate - Peanut Butter Tartletts

I taught MusicMan how to make White Chocolate Pretzels. Don’t they look yummy?

There’s even some homemade Stollen that I made fresh for you. (I never even liked Stollen until I moved to Germany and my neighbor Birgitt shared this one with me.  I loved it so much I asked for the recipe. It’s DELICIOUS!)

I can offer you egg nog, coffee, tea, and wine.  Which would you prefer?

We can nibble on treats while we chat and enjoy some Christmas music. Please let me know if you want any of the recipes. I’m happy to share. 🙂

Did you happen to notice our tree?  The boys decorated it. 😀

Please pardon my attire… I like to be comfortable!  I promise I can’t be blamed for the weekend blizzard — I wasn’t wearing this when it happened!

I was up late last Thursday night making earrings to give to my 11yo niece for Christmas.  I liked these so much that I made several extra sets. I might even make a few more.

Humorous-Juniorous takes a turn with the shovel

We’ve been busy around here, what with baking treats and shoveling snow…

But we have done more than that!  H-J, MusicMan, SnakeMaster, and I have been rehearsing with the handbell choirs, and EncyclopediaBlue has been singing his heart out with the adult choir (the Christmas Cantata is now postponed until January 3rd, thanks to our snowfall the day before the scheduled event).  We will all be sharing our musical talents on Christmas Eve at church.  (I’m a little worried about a scratchy throat of my own. Granted, it doesn’t have any effect on my bell ringing but it might mess with my singing voice.)

In an attempt to be creative and not write a boring Christmas letter (we didn’t have much to say this year), I carefully cut cardstock mattings in green and then blue or red cards to send this picture.  I don’t think I will make that mistake ever again! It has been much MUCH more work than a simple letter. However, the message inside the card is one that I like (as I said, I was feeling creative at the time):

Same work, same house

Same husband, same wife

Same boys, same town

Same busy, busy life

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

*Jesus makes all the difference!*

Attitude Adjustment

Was it just a few days ago that I was panicking about how quickly Christmas is coming?

I’ve calmed down. I’ve prioritized.

It’s amazing the difference made by just a few snowflakes days!

13 hours: 10am on 19 December

The picture above was taken right about the time I realized that I wasn’t going to be driving to the Post Office to mail packages.  It’s hard to drive a minivan in 10-1/2 inches of unplowed snow.  By noon we had over a foot of snow.
Below, the second (homemade) snow gauge shows us nearly reaching 20 inches at 3:30pm

3:30 p.m.

23 inches in 23 hours

And it’s still coming down!

I won’t be driving anywhere until our road is plowed.

Speaking of holiday parties…

Susie is hosting her 5th Annual Blog Cookie Exchange, which will be held next Wednesday, December 23.  I’m hoping** to sneak in a bit of party blog hopping and I hope you can join in the fun!  It’s calorie-free and I promise to not notice any dirty dishes hiding in your oven. (What? You’ve never done that?)

So here’s the basics…
Susie says to start with some variation of:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel
:)

and/or anything else you’d like to tell us about your holiday celebration. Whatever you’d like to share is fine — carols, stories, decorations, a favorite holiday tradition or memory, something new that you’re trying this year, whatever. Here it’s Christmas, but all holidays are welcome.  You don’t HAVE to include cookies, if cookies aren’t your thing. It’s just that “Cookie Exchange” has a nice, Christmas ring to it. Better than, say, “shindig” or “hootenanny,” although it may turn into either or both, if previous years over at Susie’s place are any indication. (Bill!!)

If you don’t have a blog (what?! why not?!), stop in next week and leave your contributions in the comments. If you DO have a blog, leave a comment here next Wednesday (because I’d love to know you are playing) but more importantly, leave a comment on Susie’s Cookie Exchange post (the one that will go up on December 23rd), and we’ll all come to your party, too. You won’t gain any weight, and you won’t need a designated driver!

**SuperDad has the day off work and the kids will all be home from school. Computer time will be a prized commodity around here. I’ll attempt to pre-schedule my party post and hop on the blog party train when I can.