Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Life in My World -- It Looked a Lot Like Christmas

Since Cali and Ray will be in Alaska for Christmas, Ty and Michelle will be in Colorado, Ande and Joe will be in Texas, and Abe will still be in Iraq, we celebrated Christmas this last weekend. We had a grand time.

Like most of humanity, I think traditions are really important because they keep families connected. Abe is the keeper of traditions in our family.  He’s the one that reminds us of how things are supposed to be. As our family expands and gets older we’ve retired some traditions and adopted new ones. As long as we have traditions, I’m not so particular on what they are as long as they make us a better family and better individuals. 

One of our traditions for the last several years (since all of us were old enough to attend), has been to celebrate the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birthday (December 23rd) by going to the temple. I suppose our temple tradition will be retired soon as there will be new babies and then not everyone will be old enough or able to go, but for this year it carried on.  It has been a great tradition . . .

Last Saturday we woke up to a snowstorm, so we got to drive snow slow for an hour and a half. But when you’ve got a good tradition going, the coming and going is often as fun as the tradition itself.  Calvin sang to us most of the way with Ty and Grace joining in every now and then and requesting repeats. I wish you could hear Calvin sing to the songs. He talks back to the singers and it is really quite funny.

It was wonderful being in the temple together, and a bonus that the session was so full that Calvin and I were seated together on the backrow.  I've typed and deleted ten sentences trying to say that it felt good and comforting to be there together. 

Name that store?  Hint:  it gives you the covets

After going to the temple we went out to eat and then finished up some Christmas shopping. We got home late and the men went straight out to The Boys Club to work on Christmas projects while the girls went to bed.

Sunday was a great day. It started with pancakes and unlimited bacon.

Calvin, Grace, Ty, Cali, Ray, Joe, Ande and my plate

Calvin and Ty

. . . and was followed by Church.  A good friend, who had just returned from his mission the day before, spoke at our services.  Missionaries fresh from their missions remind me of bread coming straight out of the oven.  I appreciate being able to benefit from the growth and understanding they’ve gained on the mission they served as they speak to the congregation.  Eldon Jensen, a widow from our ward who has the prettiest head of white hair and a winning smile, always has tootsie rolls in his pocket to share (except on Fast Sunday.  He doesn’t share on Fast Sundays.)  Sunday was no exception.  He also usually has a joke to tell.  He told me two.  Funny ones.  But, for the life of me I can’t remember the punch lines.

Me, Calvin, Cali, Ray, Joe, Ande
Ty, Grace

After church we all went to the cemetery and shared one of our favorite memories of Clara.  Mine was watching her eyes flutter in recognition when Grace sang to her.  Lucky for us our friend Marlo had gotten left at the church by his family and so he caught a ride home with us and was our photographer.

Ray and Ty sampling the brie

We started the afternoon off with appetizers. Ray and Cali made a melted brie wheel with toasted baguette bread, and we also had a shrimp platter.

Ray helping Ty make Grace's present

In between the appetizers and supper there was a whole lot of wrapping going on . . . and a few games of Pit.

The appetizers were followed by prime rib, baked potatoes, and fresh green beans. 

After dinner and dishes were finished, everyone gathered for family night.   We each had a "part" (I think that term must come from "a part on the program").  My part was for everyone to share a Christmas memory, it didn't have to be your favorite.  Cali’s memory was the year she got a Mickey Mouse watch in her sock.  She put it on and then counted the seconds to each minute for two whole hours while she waited for the time when she could get up.  Ty memory was similar, counting seconds and minutes and hours until it was time to open presents.  My other part (you didn’t think I’d just have one did you?) was charades.  I had chosen specific lines from the Christmas carols and we had to guess the right line.  Let’s see if you can guess this one:

Calvin, Ande, Ray  

Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight.  Of course.

Cali on the way up

Cali stood on her head and did a summersault for old-times sake.  That part is the first one our kids have ever had in family night.  I can still see their cloth-diapered-plastic-pant-covered bottoms high in the air as Calvin nudged them with his foot to finish toppling them over.  Followed by the family clapping wildly for the feat.

Ande taught us all a yoga move.  Fortunately someone needed to take the picture.

For Grace’s part we played Pass-the-Hands.  Nothing like slapping the carpet repeatedly to make you self-conscious and suggest that maybe, just maybe, you should have vacuumed right before you tried to play this game, Sunday or not.

We played Werewolf for Ray’s part.  Unfortunately no one believed me when I tried to share my valuable Seeker knowledge and Calvin took me out the next round.  However, Ty won the game as the witch.  He was not very community minded.

Ty taught us the chorus to Angels We Have Heard on High in Chinese.  We each had to sing one word and then rotated through all the words of the chorus.  We didn't sound very authentic or good, but we had fun trying.  

Joe's part was flipping Ande, and even though he did it twice I missed the shot. 

Calvin’s part was the lesson. He had me read selected portions of Bruce R. McConkie’s talk The Purifying Power of Gethsemane. Then we gathered in a circle and passed several pictures of the Savior around and gazed on them for 30 seconds or so while Pachelbel Canon in D played quietly in the background. After we had each held and seen twenty or so pictures we shared our testimony of the Savior and the thoughts that we had while looking at the pictures. It was a very special time. It’s times like this that you quietly realize that you’re walking on sacred ground.  I learned some new things.

And then we opened our gift-exchange presents.  I’ll only share Grace’s gift. Ty knows she likes “monies and jewelries” so he had Ray help him make Grace a necklace, earrings, bracelet, and tiara out of gold dollar coins, saran wrap, and ribbons.

 She wore them for the rest of the evening.

And that sums up our before-Christmas celebration.  We felt connected.  We had a great time.  We left better people.  Tradition accomplished.

I look forward to our new traditions as we adapte to our changing family dynamics.  Already, when Ty and I went to Wal-Mart yesterday to buy a broom and juce it felt good not to be frantic like the other shoppers.  We could even skip the Christmas candy and wrapping paper aisles.*  Frenzied on December 22nd.  I'm more than happy to give up that tradition this year.

*It's Wednesday.  That means homemaking tip day.  We ran out of wrapping paper on Sunday.  Not unheard of at this house.  We pulled out the newsprint roll and markers and wrapped away.  I'm telling you, that newsprint roll is the most useful thing.


Deanna/Mimi said...

What a delightful post on your Christmas and it's traditions. I felt a happiness sweep over me that I wanted it prolonged by your post NOT ending. What fun! Are you sure you don't have room in your family...I would like to be adopted! Merry Christmas to you Jane...I love having you as a blog friend. You are a blessing!

Emma J said...

I love your traditions. I hope my children get to marry into homes like yours!! What a gift for joy you have.

deidra said...

What a great holiday celebration.

In DC and Chicago the aisles at the temple are on the outside, not up the middle, so the lucky couples that get there first get to sit together and hold hands. Somehow, it makes the temple that much better. My mom has a surprised planned for after Christmas that involves our temple recommends. I love getting to be in the temple with my family.

Jill said...

I adore your family! I know I always say this, but it's true.

I'm so glad you were able to celebrate Christmas early in such a relaxed and special way.

Susan said...

congrats Jane!! Have a very merry Christmas!!

Cassidy said...

Merry Christmas!!!! Looks like a fun weekend!!

michelle said...

I totally want to be adopted into your family. I love the way you have such fun together!

Going to the temple to celebrate Joseph Smith's birthday is a brilliant tradition.

And I loved seeing your beautiful button trees in the background!