Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve and Day 2016

Christmas Eve was a fairly relaxed day, as I'd done some cooking in the days ahead and we'd done our family housecleaning on Friday, so we hung about and the children played numerous board games with Daddy and Grampa.

The Game of Life

Christmas Eve menu:
  • Christmas ham
  • Butternut Squash Soup (to which I add Granny Smith apples and drizzle on some heavy cream)
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Store-bought Yeast Rolls
  • New York Cheesecake shipped to us by Grandma Linda

This was the first year that any parish in our diocese offered the Midnight Mass as the old Tridentine Mass probably since the Second Vatican Council--thanks to all the 'persistent widow' efforts of the Charlotte Latin Mass Community--so those new plans really altered how I 'do' Christmas. I knew going to Midnight Mass would deplete me for days, so I decorated the tree days ahead of time instead of doing it on Christmas Eve morning, as is my tradition of ten years.

Then Chris took the children out for a bonfire in the back yard while I set out all the presents and stockings, something I've always done after the children are asleep, creating a magical effect (even though we don't 'do' Santa Claus). The magic was definitely lessened as children kept creeping up to the closed door of the den and cracking a peek while I barked at them to go away.

Stockings ready for the children

Stockings for Mama and Daddy

We had mixed feelings about what would be the best option, but we chose to leave Thomas (17 months) and Joseph (3) home sleeping with Grampa Neil sitting vigilant to listen for them. It was a small-m Christmas miracle that my cosleeping toddler slept soundly during my three-hour absence when I can probably count on one hand how many times he has slept a three-hour stretch in his whole life.

The downside to leaving them home asleep is that they woke at their normal hour of 5:30 to be up for the day.

But back to Midnight Mass . . . Chris grew up going to this Mass, but this one was my very first.

I lack the much-coveted family photo of parents and all the finely dressed children for Christmas, since two of mine were at home asleep, John was serving the altar, and Chris was bustling about preparing a table of hot apple cider and cookies to serve after Mass. So, a selfie of me and my tired girls will have to suffice:

The half-hour Christmas concert ahead of the Mass was absolutely gorgeous and the choir sounded like professionals to my ears.

The solemn Mass was exquisite, with about 20 altar boys serving, the priest in beautiful, traditional gold vestments, and the choir providing perfect music. There were 390 faithful there (including many families with tots in tow!), which is a real sign of appreciation of the local Latin Mass community, considering that last year's attendance of the Novus Order Midnight Mass was only 100.

I wish I could say that I could stay awake, but I absolutely could not. But, I was there, and that counts!

Christmas morning dawned all too soon, with us adults running on two-and-a half hours of sleep, and the older kids fewer than five hours of sleep.

We really enjoyed ourselves, and Chris and I were so pleased at how slowly we opened gifts, pausing often for various worthwhile moments.

Opening stockings while Thomas runs in circles with a fireman's hat atop his head
Our gifts to 17-month-old Thomas were a total home run: a toy vacuum cleaner that makes noise and a push broom. HEAVEN FOR HIM!

 This year, we had each sibling draw a sibling's name from a hat, so they could learn the art of giving (not just receiving) but weren't having to give to four people, which is rather a lot.

John gave his brother a camo dress-up outfit

Margaret gave Mary clip-on earrings, which they're sharing.

We paused opening gifts to eat homemade cinnamon rolls for "first breakfast," and later paused again to eat a more substantial hot breakfast.

We paused opening gifts to play baseball outside with Joseph's new tee-ball set.

We paused (several times) to read books aloud.

"Zero the Hero" was so popular that it was read aloud three times that day!

When the baby went down for his regular morning nap, we paused so that I could take a nap simultaneously as well!

Margaret paused once to go write in what she calls her Spiritual Journal, and another time to go to the privacy of her room to build her very first Lego set.

Thomas gave Margaret a Lego set.
Mary disappeared into another room to play with a Noah's Ark set in peace.

We had a slow and lovely day of opening gifts from loved ones, and then for dinner I served:

  • leftover Christmas ham
  • sweet potato casserole
  • fettuccine Alfredo
  • green peas
  • leftover cranberry sauce
  • store-bought yeast rolls
  • gingerbread cake with whipped cream

The long day ended with watching "Macbeth" from a gift of the Animated Shakespeare Plays, and then a family game of Scrabble on Chris' new deluxe board game! As to be expected, I was actually falling asleep with head in hands at the table by 8:00, so I had to beg off the game earlier than everyone else in order to crawl into bed.

I look forward to a Christmas octave of painting, building our new model sets, drawing with the new Spirograph, reading many new books, going to the pottery studio with our gift certificate, playing the various new board games, playing the new outdoor games of baseball and dodge ball, and so forth.

Merry Christmas to all!

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