It’s not feasible to detail every bit of our Christmas this year (we had a lovely celebration with loads of components), but here’s the short version of everything that made it feel special for me, my Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal Fellow, and our Minions:
1: Eldest dressing as an Elf, complete with super-glued ear cartilage (pointy!) and added freckles, to pass out candy canes at the Thanksgiving Day Run to Feed the Hungry. It’s her third year participating, and I’m amazed each time that my Non-Morning Person child drags out and hits the ground chipper to go help at the race. She’s Rawthah Nifty.
2: It’s our third year of skipping a Christmas tree. I kind of love it. We decorate wreaths all over the house (windows, doors, “vegetable” door (the vestibule, or enclosed front stoop, as named by Miss Spicy Child when she was 5), set the Nativity in a prominent place on the mantel, arrange the angels and fairy lights, and add lights and ornaments to the Yule Mustache.
It’s simple, everyone gets involved (which nearly killed my Eldest this year; she is getting a taste of how painful it can be to an Oh-So-Slightly-Neurotic Big Person to allow small people to “wreck up” a wreath in their own personal style, which mostly seems to involve putting so many ornaments on willy-nilly that no greenery is left visible. And they all clash.), and there’s zero stress for me.
The Minions get to Install Christmas their ownselves, which really helps everyone feel connected and participatory. Both the Yule Mustache/Nativity and the Connection/Participation elements are illustrated in this charming picture of Sisterly Love and Caring:
(Click to embiggen and see all the Loving Detail.)
3: We had another Christmas that involved very little traditional shopping, and a whole lot of scheming and plotting instead.
New sleeping caps, a big box of homemade and handed down fashion doll clothes, a big bottle of maraschino cherries that don’t have to be shared, a packet of crackers and herbed goat cheese, little flashlights and measuring tapes, new aprons, a book full of cookie recipes (that we already owned, but Lefty really, really wants me to make cookies with her as Head Minion, so she wrapped it up and gave it to me), antique books from second-hand shops, a bin of fabric remnants to be used for future doll clothing, homemade toys, a hand-bound leather-cased sketch book, new watercolor art for website headers (possibly for this one, too; I’ve not decided, but I can tell you that having a Real Artist in the family is a very handy thing to arrange)… there were a lot of secrets floating about the house for the past month or so, and much in the way of shifting alliances as various family members worked on delightful surprises for others.
And my Darling Husband and Devoted Offspring went together to design and have made an apron with some truly touching artwork, depicting their Vast Adoration and Respect for a wife and mother (me!) who has a need to make sure everything proceeds in orderly and scheduled ways, and also has kind of short arms:
Because truly, who wouldn’t feel loved getting a T-Rex apron for Christmas? It joins my Bosoms-Added T-Rex from Mother’s Day, and the mini plastic T-Rex they brought home from the beach in a Live Hermit Crab pet carrier, just to freak me out about Inappropriate Pets We Can’t Take Home on the Plane.
4: We shared some danged tasty celebratory foods. Pies, cheesecakes, cinnamon rolls, BBQ ribs, cayenne wings, pot stickers, salads, veggies, fish… all homemade and tremendously tasty, to enjoy ourselves and share with others at work, and church, and play. (And I was tickled to successfully copy the shape of an apron Eldest was given last Christmas, in brand new and Rawthah Snazzy fabric.
5: Some amazing Church Music. I don’t have a picture for this one, because how can you capture so many amazing moments? We kicked it off with a community concert at the start of December, kept going with a short tableaux at a church party, sang together at home, found a fantastic new album (and downloaded that and the sheet music; thanks for the lovely gift, Husby, even if I did just inform you about it when you got home from work that night. You have excellent taste in my music.) Eldest and I have been prepping to sing together this coming Sunday, and can I just say? Birthing someone who sounds a lot like me at her age (but with better training than I had) is the closest I am ever going to come to singing duets with myself, and it’s very, very nifty.
Christmas Eve, we drove over and hung out with the Presbyterians for a midnight service, to worship and “ring in” Christmas, and it was the absolute, bar-none, positively most wonderful way we could have spent those last preparatory hours before Christmas morning. Lefty konked out about 20 minutes in, and spent the rest of the service drooling peacefully on The Boy’s leg, but Spicy kept herself awake to hear the splendid choir, a meaningful sermon, and sing along with a congregation of happy believers. Lit candles, bell choirs, joyful carols… and then out into a truly silent midnight, feet crunching over snow in the nearly-zero-degree weather, under the open cathedral of stars. So, so, so very good!
6: We didn’t worry about pictures on Christmas morning. Instead of spending all our time recording it, we just enjoyed it. And it was really fun.
7: We have amazing family. When one of my little brothers and his wife saw a Facebook post about Lefty’s mid-December request for a train for her imaginary pet sheep, Baby Timmy (who is a girl), and read of my refusal to buy real trains for make-believe baby sheep, they decided to send Baby Timmy a train, to be opened by Lefty. When the package arrived, the card said only, “Merry Christmas to Baby Timmy, from all the gals down in the motor pool.”
Lefty saved Baby Timmy’s gift for last, and we did break out the camera for that bit of opening, so we could share the excitement and delight with a set of loved ones across the continent. We don’t need to do Santa. We have tremendously magical people in our own gene pool, who make our hearts smile!
7.5: Same lovely “gals down at the motor pool” opened up the chance to help with a service project they organized. It is truly a lovely thing to see loving people work together to make the lives of strangers a bit more comfortable and easy. This has been a great year for seeing the compassionate works of others, helping wherever we can, and rejoicing that there are such good things in the world!
This past summer, when the raspberries were in full leafy splendor, one of my Spicy child’s dear pet hens died. Daisy was smallish, fluffy, red (with touches of black and brown). She was a wonderfully cuddly bit of henfolk. A few weeks after her funeral, Spicy cuddled up in my lap and said that she didn’t want one right away, but sometime later, she thought she might like a nice cuddly fake hen that looked like Daisy Chicken, so she could snuggle her always, and not be so sad about Daisy away in Heaven, because waiting for the Resurrection was going to be rather hard.
I know. Reach for the hankies, right? This kid manages to yank my heart out through my tear ducts on a shockingly frequent basis.
So I stitched a hen, of soft red melton wool, about the same size as Daisy Chicken at 1 year old, and copied the shape of her “wobbles” from pictures we had.
Her wings are attached with feather stitch (appropriate, no?), and it took me awhile to find the right threads to match the amber-and-black of her eyes.
I finished her in time for cuddling Christmas night, and Spicy swears that when she got up in the middle of the night for a drink, Stuffed Daisy was still cozy warm when she climbed back in bed.
Bonus: Spicy is willing to share hen-cuddling with Lefty the Dickensian Waif, and both girls are happy.
Spicy and Daisy: Contemplative
Our year is coming to a close with a really lovely and peaceful span of days, and I am so very contented and full of ideas for the coming months. As we step into the Twelve Days of Christmas, I hope your days really are merry and bright, and full of love and peace and joy and hope. Happy Christmas!