Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

We had a simple Christmas this year. Hospital and medical bills, necessary repairs to our UT rental home following a bad wind storm, and our tough economy, left us going into December scratching our heads and blinking our eyes. We trimmed and simplified. Josh and I opted out of gifts for each other this year, content to be thankful we made it through this year, and are all alive and healthy! We carefully selected and purchased a few gifts for the kids. We bought things on sale or second-hand on e-bay. I planned our food in advance, and bought when the groceries were on sale.

It all worked out pretty well, but by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was spent emotionally. I had spent so much energy worrying about what to get, how much it cost, if the kids would be happy, if everything was "even". Presents I had delayed (due to over-thinking) ordering online weren't going to arrive on time. A red-frosted cupcake got mashed frosting-side down on our light carpet! Diddles had a stomach bug that had us changing diapers and bedding in the middle of the night. I felt discouraged, tired, and homesick for the carefree days of being a child instead of a responsible adult. I wanted everything to be perfect and spiritual and fun and happy and clean and...and...and. I seem to go through this every year - Unrealistic expectations.

But, we had some great memories this Christmas, and I've got to remember and celebrate those.

"Lille Julaften" or Little Christmas Eve

We had our little Christmas program on Christmas Eve-Eve. My family were getting together that evening, so we did it the same night so the kids (and I) could feel like we were together, even though we were apart. Josh said the Norwegians call this Lille Julaften (pronounced "lil yule often"). Traditionally Norwegians decorate their tree and homes on this night, and weave paper baskets of red and green, then fill them with nuts, fruit and candy! We dressed up in pathetic nativity costumes, which seemed to all come from my side of the closet. Yaks double-casted himself as a Wise Man and a Shepherd. Diddles was a second-year stage hand for he production. I thought Josh made a wonderfully handsome Joseph, don't you think? We read from Luke 2 and sang some carols. It was fun the Boo can read the words to the hymns and sing along with us.

Then the kids got their blankets and I read the the story of Granny Glittens and the Amazing Mittens. They liked the thought of edible mittens, but Boo wisely pointed out that you'd also have string in your mouth, and that wouldn't taste very good. Following the story and overall silliness, the kids decided NOT to sleep under the Christmas tree because the thought of Buddy the elf lurking around them while they were sleeping was a bit too much for them!

Christmas Service

I visit teach an inactive sister, and so far I've been her doorstep friend. We chat briefly on her porch. I bring her a treat or a talk I enjoyed or an invitation for an activity. This time I went to visit and I was invited inside! It made me so happy. I got to meet her husband and sit and have a real visit, and she seemed genuinely happy to have me visit. A Christmas Miracle indeed. Boo and I chose a few treats and gifts for our across-the-street neighbor, Janet. She lives with her husband and their cat. They don't have any family, so we stopped by for a visit. She's a talker, so we chatted for a while, and she mentioned that she didn't put up a tree this year, but she loves doing her dishes and looking across the street at our tree. Boo makes sure we always keep the tree lights on and the blinds pulled up for Janet. :)

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve the kids made Krumkake, which are Pizelles shaped into cones. We were going to make Lefse bread, but we ran out of steam!

This year we did Cheese Fondue for our meal. We dipped it in bread, veggies, apples and had Martinelli's. We set out the plate of cookies, milk and carrots and tucked the excited kids into bed. Josh and I got to Skype into his family's Christmas Eve program and watch the talent portion of singing, skits and musical numbers. Always entertaining, and we got to watch it in our PJ's in bed!

Our Unexpected Christmas Guest

That evening I checked Facebook and discovered that our good friend Gapi was alone for Christmas! His wife and daughter had gone to Seattle to visit some friends, since they will be leaving for their home in Namibia in a few months. We couldn't have that, so Josh called and invited him over for our Christmas morning.
Gapi had never seen how Americans do Christmas morning with gift opening and Santa and stockings and such. In Namibia they don't exchange gifts, but have a big meal with all of the family, so I can understand why he felt pretty lonely without them on Christmas. I wish I had a gift for him, or at least an extra stocking for him! He was snapping photos on his iphone, and smiling and laughing at our nutty kids all morning. We made a big breakfast of cinnamon rolls and omelets, and he helped Josh and Yaks assemble the e-bay Playmobile lot, minus the instructions. It took a good hour!

Our special Christmas Guest, and our pathetically mis-matched pajamas.

The Joys of Christmas

Yaks got his wished-for Lego Kingdoms, and Josh helped him put it all together.

My cousin Sarah sent a little tote bag for each of the kids, with special gifts inside for each child. It was so thoughtful, and still makes me emotional. She didn't draw our name, and hasn't seen our kids in years, but she picked the perfect something for each one!

Boo got a loom and this wonderful apron, which cousin Sarah made for her. Who knew both our gifts would combine into a THEME!? "Now we can bake stuff, Mom!" She did help me pull the rolls out of the oven, and I've promised to let her bake a cake this week.

Little Diddles only has eyes for stuffed animals, particularly ones she can climb on, so we found this large Sheep dog for her. It sheds just like a real dog! :/
Our sweet friends and neighbors, the Campbells also gave some special presents to our kids. They were each so thoughtful and kind. Diddles got the softest little puppy dog (which she sleeps with) and a bead necklace ("Beez!"), just like the one she likes to play with when she goes over there to visit! We're blessed with wonderful friends and family.

A Christmas Dinner

We had church for an hour in the morning. They had a beautiful program with lots of musical numbers. The primary kids sang "Joy to the World," and it was the best! The rest of the day we were able to enjoy our Christmas day relaxing, listening to music and watching a movie. We had salmon, rolls, vegetables and a berry pie and ice cream for dessert. A simple dinner, which didn't have me cooking in the kitchen all day! Josh was able to grab a long winter's nap, while the kids helped me fold the napkins all fancy and set the table!

Merry Christmas to all!

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