So, today Chris hauled down all our bins of glorious Christmas ornaments, most of which are inherited or received as gifts each year since my childhood. Chris took Mary with him on errands and I was left with an excellent four-year-old helper to decorate. Today was the first day I listened to Christmas music (having done very little of our shopping in stores, so having missed all the Christmas Muzak) and it was heartwarming to hear!
First, we did the lights! I felt strong deja vu from my childhood, echoing my dad's words, as I instructed John on helping me wrap the lights and lecturing him on how important is the foundation of lights, that we don't want to do a slapstick job with it.
John was in charge of decorating the entire bottom half of the tree with durable ornaments of wood, metal, cloth, ceramic, and the thickest glass. All the delicate ornaments went on top. John asked many times if he could put on the delicate glass ornaments and I answered as many times that he did not have permission. At one point, he picked up a delicate ornament commenting how beautiful it was and, when I asked him to hand it back, he calmly threw it on the wood floor and it smashed into many pieces. I was aghast, with my jaw literally hanging open. I asked him why he had done such a thing. He could barely speak and looked at me with tears brimming in his eyes, and answered that he had wanted to show me that it wouldn't really break. He was mortified in a way I hadn't seen before, so I didn't feel the need to give him any further consequence. I just told him that he had proven my point about the delicacy of glass ornaments and that this was why he wasn't old enough to handle them yet. As we continued on with decorating, John was so naturally ashamed that he could hardly look at me or speak to me for a few minutes--poor sweet boy!
The Advent wreath and calendar have come down from the mantle, replaced by stockings and Christmas decorations.
Bringing out these wooden angels is always so touching for me. They were purchased for my mom and me when I was a tiny girl and our names were painted on them.
Christmas Eve is traditionally a day of fasting and abstinence (no meat), so I made fettuccine Alfredo, peas and onions, and a faux meat sausage that unintentionally added to our penance.
We read our last Scripture story for Advent. Doing the Jesse tree has been so meaningful, I think. Mary mostly wandered around while we read each night and John needed reminders to sit still, but he did catch bits of the story. He would mention elements of the story to me at random times, so I know he was listening. Sometimes I had to get creative, like a couple of nights ago when I could tell the children were ridiculously wired up after dinner, so we gave them a bath (knowing it would calm them) and I read them from the Bible while they quietly played in the water. In the end, John is extremely clear that The Point of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birthday--and he had fun all month in preparation.
Today we were tickled to have two friends stop by unexpectedly with little gifties of an ornament and home baked goodies--so neighborly and warm!
At bedtime, we read the kids the same four Christmas books we've been reading to them each night during this fourth week of Advent. I recommend them highly for young children:
"The Star of the Manger" by Joni Oeltjenbruns
"The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol" by Tomie dePaola
"O Holy Night: The First Christmas" by Makoto Yamamoto
"An Angel Came to Nazareth: A Story of the First Christmas" by Anthony Knott
[EDIT: I can add to this list the book we gave Mary in her Christmas stocking: "Who Is Coming To Our House?" by Joseph Slate"]
Now the children are asleep (dressed in clothing to be carried asleep to Midnight Mass), the baby Jesus has been placed in the Nativity scene manger, the breakfast casserole is assembled and ready to be baked in the morning, and gifts are going to be set under the tree (the plan being to open them over the next twelve days through Epiphany). And I, for one, am going to lay still for a couple of hours watching "It's a Wonderful Life" before Mass because all this upright activity today has taken me to the limits that my pregnant body can handle--I wish I were stronger!