Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmastime Stuff

Christmas Adam we had sacrament meeting at church, and that is all, which felt odd. We came home wanting lunch even though it was only 10:00 in the morning. Rachel and I sang with the choir and everything felt bland. The way that we are—this numbness—is a coping mechanism, I think, because the alternative to not feeling anything is feeling everything. So I sang the songs and I felt very little until I looked down and saw a sister in our ward openly bawling and then everything inside of me broke, too, and I spent the last little bit of the song mouthing the words instead of singing them because I was crying. 

Mild he lays his glory by, 
Born that man no more may die: 
Born to raise the son of earth, 
Born to give them second birth. 
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King !"

A couple in the ward adopted two little girls from Ukraine, so I went up to talk with them. They speak no English and seemed rather relieved to speak with someone who could communicate with them a little easier. In the evening my friend Gulnaz (who is from Russia) brought dinner to their family and the girls and I met her at their house to sing В лесу родилась ёлочка to the girls. They seemed to really enjoy it; we were happy to give them a little bit of the familiar to them when their life is rather turned upside down. 

My sister and mom came over for latkes and stew, prepared by Andrew, and then we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, which Zoë found enrapturing. She was terrified and mesmerized in all the right places. Afterwards we gathered around the piano/organ for some singing. We sang a few carols that Miriam played and then entertained Zoë by singing whatever words she told us to (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) while she played nonsense on the piano.

"Sing, 'Alex, no! Alex, no!'" she'd demand. "Now sing, "Mommy, yes! Mommy, yes!'"



Here's Miriam in the middle of a laughing attack while recovering from a temper tantrum she had because she played With Wondering Awe and asked that we not sing along and then Rachel made weird bhbhbhbhbh noises with her lips, which was unacceptable.


And here's my little dapper baby looking quite ready for bed:


We didn't take a pretty Christmas Sunday picture by our tree (so be prepared for that next week, children). We can do that because our tree will still be up on Sunday.

I'm honestly surprised by how many people I know who've already undecorated for Christmas. I guess you-do-you applies here, so I'm leaving my decorations up for a while longer so we can really let it sink in (and so I can do it while the kids are at school). Christmas isn't even over until January 6!

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On Christmas Eve Andrew made tamales to contribute to the dinner at Aunt Linda's house. It was fun to get together with Aunt Linda and Aunt Dorothy and a few of their kids. After the dinner we played a present unwrapping game which was silly and fun.

Michelle, Zoë, and Benjamin







In the end I think everyone got a prize they were happy about, which just shows that it doesn't take much to make us happy.

Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Linda were wearing the same shirt, which we all got a good laugh about:


Uncle Raymond wore a Santa hat the whole time, which infuriated Zoë.

"That man!" she fumed, "is wearing a Christmas hat!"

"So...?" I asked her.

"IT'S NOT CHRISTMAS!"

"Tomorrow is Christmas," I said.

"Tomorrow's not today!"

Cousin Ken teased her about the seating arrangement at dinner. She wanted to sit by me and told everyone this several times, so Ken kept coming up and grabbing my designated seat and saying, "I'm supposed to sit here, right?" Zoë kept screeching at him about how her mom was going to sit there!

And then she didn't even talk to me the whole meal. In fact, she pointedly did not talk to me. She kept addressing Linda and Trevor and when I'd seem like I was too invested in what she was saying she'd push my face away and say, "I was talking to Linda/Trevor."

She is a character.

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When we got home we acted out the nativity. Benjamin was Joseph, Zoë was Mary, Miriam was an angel and a wiseman, I think I was a wiseman as well, Rachel and Alexander were shepherds.










Here's Alexander getting too close to the manger for Zoë's comfort...



This year we left a little manger under the Christmas tree for the kids to fill up with good deeds (hay made of strips of paper). They made a pretty comfortable bed for Baby Jesus.






My mom took the girls to midnight mass, which they thoroughly enjoyed. It did mean, however, that Santa couldn't come until rather late in the evening! Zoë and Benjamin were the first ones awake but we let them stew in their bedroom until Alexander got up (around 8:00). Then we woke up the big girls who probably could have kept sleeping.

Miriam had slept in her room (which is downstairs now, in what used to be Grandma's office) so we brought her upstairs so she could join in the Christmas train:


Here are the kids discovering their stockings:









This sweet baby pulled these cars out of his stocking and was pretty well satisfied for the rest of the day.


Zoë had the most fun opening presents and opened both hers and Alexander's. She didn't even care what was inside of the packages, necessarily; she just wanted to be the one to open them. That isn't to say that she didn't appreciate her gifts, because she did—she got play dough and paints and pretty new clothes and she loved everything—it's just to say that the real gift was in the unwrapping.


Here's Alexander exploring another one of his packages. He was rather interested in the shiny/sticky/curious bows:



You can tell he still wasn't feeling well on Christmas day. The poor baby had been running a fever (up to 104°F, off and on, the past few days leading up to Christmas).



Here's Benjamin taking his turn. He was rather relieved to have earned back all of his presents (though he may not be quite so lucky in future years) and got a bumper crop of Star Wars paraphernalia this year:




Miriam was thrilled about her Barnes & Noble gift card.


She also got some craft supplies and a fuzzy blanket and sweater. She did not get a bathrobe and cried about that but found no sympathetic ear. Well, she found one. Andrew told her that if she really wanted a bathrobe she could look online and get one for herself after we were done with presents. But I jumped in and said that I didn't think so because she could instead spend her time being thankful for what she had received instead of crying about the one thing she didn't get.

Because I'm heartless.

She managed to change her attitude and the rest of her Christmas Day was wonderful. And maybe one day she'll get a bathrobe and maybe one day she won't. But either way she'll survive.

Grandpa recalled one year when he was about Miriam's age and there was a certain belt that he'd wanted and had described in great detail on his list but that was absent on Christmas morning. When he cried to his mother, "I didn't get my belt!" she said, "Nope, you didn't. Oh, well."

Because she, too, was heartless.

But, you know what, not getting everything you want is a pretty common occurrence in life and it's a blessing to know how to conduct yourself with dignity when it happens. And so, dear children, you are most welcome for not getting everything you want. What I got you for Christmas instead was resiliency. *mic drop*

Here's Miriam showing off the art kit our Secret Santa dropped off for her (she had a lovely afternoon doing some etchings):


Poor Rachel had to wait until the very last to open her presents (because Andrew insists on opening presents from the youngest to the oldest (with the exception of Zoë was the Acting Youngest this year because Alexander doesn't care about presents but Zoë does)). She thought she had every last present figured out and cockily made her guesses before unwrapping each gift. She was correct an astounding amount of the time but was also surprised by a few gifts.



The rest of our day was pretty low-key, filled with naps and lego-building and things like that. We've had so many Christmas naps this week (especially Alexander and I; thanks to whatever virus we've been fighting off).

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Andrew's siblings came over for a little luncheon on Boxing Day. We made soup and appetizers and really should have planned a game like Linda did because we really fell flat on the conversation home front so the visit just kind of felt...weird. Grief is weird. So life is weird. 

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