Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Cookie Central started just after Thanksgiving, and the freezer quickly was filled to capacity with dozens and dozens of nine varieties, along with huge batches of peppermint divinity and peanut butter fudge. This week we assembled cookie tins and cookie plates, and are having quite the time blessing our neighbors and friends. Baking in the kitchen together is one of my favorite ways to spend time together, especially with my children. It's so easy to involve them! I believe that anything baked with love has that love infused within it and will nourish, no matter the fat or calories. Share what you have, no matter how simple or elegant. Cookies are gifts of the heart. And I mean that.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I think there's hardly anything cozier than singing carols together in a group around a lit Christmas tree. And so, we do, to practice. And then we hit the streets.
I have taken my children caroling for many years, and it's a tradition we look forward to each December. Practices take place on Monday nights as part of family home evening, but at this point we don't really need the practice. We go out after dark and canvas the neighborhood singing our hearts out to unexpecting friends and strangers alike, and the experience is one that everyone should have.
When Adam and I first married, and I wanted to carry on the caroling tradition with our new, blended family, he balked a bit at the idea. Well, a lot. He was a downright Scrooge, and I worried that his blatant bad attitude would spoil the evening for the children. Fortunately, the Christmas Spirit intervened with the knock at our very first door. We knocked and began singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and a white-haired old man opened the door. I could tell he wasn't expecting visitors, and he didn't want to be disturbed, but almost instantaneously upon hearing singing on his porch, and seeing a family (and not a salesman), his wrinkled face melted and the corners of his smile reached up to catch the tears that soon began winding their way down his aged face. He wanted more and more, and we gave it to him. He lamented that he wished he had known we were coming so he could have had hot chocolate ready for us, that we might come in and visit. He was lonely, and we had been Christmas angels. And his eyes weren't the only wet ones.
Dear Adam caught the spirit, and led the way from there. He had been changed, softened too. He's now a caroling convert.
We walk the neighborhoods for an hour or two each season now, and love the joy we see on the faces of the strangers who answer their doors to us. The children receive an instant gratification for their service. They know it makes a difference.
We have had people open their doors to us, and then turn and call the rest of their families to come and listen. We've had whole groups gather out on the porch to get a view. We often receive gifts from those we sing to. People are so happy, and so touched, that they want to do something, and they disappear into their kitchens, returning with cookies, chocolates, gifts, even a few dollars. We always try to refuse, but then again, they received our gift with gratitude.
It always makes for a wonderful evening that the entire family anticipates. Maybe caroling is a forgotten activity. Maybe people have become too shut in, too closed up, too involved in their own little circle. Maybe people have become too scared of people they don't know, too affected by the news reports, and too nervous of knocking on a stranger's door, but every Christmas we hope to sing a carol or two and give our brothers and sisters a little cheer, and a little more belief in the basic goodness of people, especially at Christmas time. After all, a song is a powerful tool, and a universal language.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
So, this is hard, because my 100th post is fast approaching, when I'll have to do The List, but here's a sneak preview of the fun that is to come:
1. Once my husband bought me sex toys for Christmas, which wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that we were living with his parents that year.
2. Ever since I was about 8 or so, I would sneak downstairs on Christmas night by myself and tenderly caress the ornaments on the tree and cry about how another year of my life and my siblings' lives was over, and how fast time seemed to fly. I would play out memories of the past year in my mind and weep, sentimentally. What a dork.
3. Shortly after my divorce, I changed my diet to consist primarily of Totino's cheese pizzas, puffy Cheetos, and Ben & Jerry's. Those were the things my body wanted, and they were GOOD.
4. Once, while babysitting, I was snooping around the master bedroom, and came across the cremated remains of their infant daughter. It was CREEPY, and not hidden all that well.
5. Another time while babysitting, I was snooping around in the bathroom, and I found a picture right in the bathroom closet next to the towels of the mother's dead mother lying in her casket at her funeral. Even CREEPIER, although if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I like these kinds of creepy.
6. When I was in 2nd grade, I lived in a primarily African-American neighborhood, and I could double-dutch with the best of them. Little tiny white Jenna.
7. I have never been able to do a cartwheel. Darn it.
8. But I can almost do the splits, even when I'm 9 months pregnant, although my husband won't let me because it freaks him out.
9. Once I made a cake for a cub scout auction, and it sold for $85, because people know I make good cakes.
10. Today I rollerskated in the driveway with my son. I'm an 80's girl, and I still got it, baby.
Now, to tag:
Abby, because I wanna know more about my little sis.
Hannah, because I wanna know more about my other little sis.
Sarah, because she's part of the gang too, and she needs to give up the goods.
Mom, because I always tag Mom and she's so interesting.
Hilary, because I think it would be fun if she joined in the blogging funness of being tagged.
and, Piper...because I'm dying to know more.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Lyndsay was 5 months old, and we spent her first Christmas in New Jersey on a surprise (to my siblings) visit to show her off to family for the first time. I remember my dad holding her for the first time, his first grandbaby, and weeping. All of my eight siblings adored her, and somehow, though she barely touched the floor during those few weeks, she learned to sit up while we were there. Notice her doll with brown hair and eyes like she had, and her matching nightgown that my mom made for her, but wait, it gets better:
I had a matching nightgown too! My mom made us matching Lanz of Salzburg flannel nightgowns for Christmas morning. I am a little shocked by how young I look. I really was an adult. I had even been married for more than 3 years!
Dylan was born January 6th, so he got to celebrate his first birthday right after Christmas, lucky duck! He got a Little Tikes basketball set that year, I remember, and he knew instantly what to do with it.
Here's baby Aiden, born the day after Thanksgiving that year, and wearing...er...swimming in...the duck sweater Nana knitted for him. He didn't much care for Christmas, and preferred nursing to opening presents.
Last year was baby Conor's first Christmas. He wasn't all that thrilled with the Jolly Old Elf, and he didn't get any presents that year because of his poor attitude. I mean, we were just poor, and figured we'd better spend our money on the five kids who would notice.
But doesn't he look cute in that hat he borrowed from cousin Calix? I love babies in hats!
So here it is Christmas time, and looking back on my sweet babies, it almost makes me want another one! But Santa definitely isn't bringing that this year!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
In the beginning, there was me. (I've often joked that the word should be spelled "Jenna-Sis", since I was the first, and I am definitely a sister, but I digress.) It didn't stay that way for long, as each of my eight siblings was born one after the other almost like clockwork, but here I am on my very first Christmas. These are the only two pictures I have of that day. For the only time in my life, all the focus was on me, as I don't think my mom knew she was even pregnant with Ethan yet. Well, maybe she did, but just barely. He was born in September the next year.
It's such an odd thing to look at baby pictures of myself. I don't think I was an especially beautiful baby, but I'm sure my parents disagreed. I was hopelessly bald for several years, for one thing. But I do see traces of my own babies in my little face and it makes me feel more connected to my children.
I smiled when I saw this stocking that my mom knitted for me. She knitted one for each of us, and all eleven of them hung from our mantle every Christmas. The color combinations got way better as we moved into the 80's, but there I am with pink and green, and it brings back such a flood of memories. I'm sure my mom still has it, though it's probably disintegrating by now, as yarn quality was the other thing to improve over the years. She let us take our ornament collections with us when we moved out, but she held on to the stockings, and I don't blame her. She has since knitted a whole new collection for my family and several other siblings'.
I wanted to reminisce this December, and share memories from Christmases past. My mom made Christmas my very favorite holiday of the year, and my sisters share the obsession. My mom is all things quaint, cozy, and traditional when it comes to Christmas, from the stories she told, to the treats she baked, to the carols she played and we sang. I have tried to pass those things on, and more, to my own children, so this month you get a glimpse! I hope it warms your heart and fills you with Christmas joy!