oh, christmas! it was more beautiful than ever this year. i know that many times people get depressed after christmas, but there was none of that with me and i know it's because i have found the secret joy of christmas: Him. i couldn't care less about getting gifts anymore, but i was still SO excited about christmas! His coming is whispered in the decorations, in the songs, in the candles and lights and in the love of family. and does my secret gift ever leave? no, it grows every day, every year. i have been talking to sparrow about this and i pray that she gets this true excitement about the only Gift we'll ever need...
the highlight of our activities this season was a christmas pageant that omi and i had decided to put together for the children at our house. ...the only problem was that we didn't really get started on it til november, and we had less than ideal amounts of time to get together and rehearse. result: a TERRIBLE dress rehearsal on the 22nd, (supposed to start late afternoon/evening, but actually didn't start til 10pm) and can you imagine it, with our little children?! and the show was the following evening! that night we stayed up collaborating til the wee hours: typing lists, notes, schedules, discussing changes and things to be done before tomorrow's performance. thinking: what have we done? and being somewhat thankful that we had NOT indeed invited the entire neighborhood as we originally intended to, but mostly family (omi's family. there are a lot of them). i was slipping into short dreams and almost off of my chair as we were cramming thus, and i stayed up til 3 am despite warnings to go to bed. emily stayed up til 1am painting the background to such a beautiful landscape that we could not thank her enough! and yet we still had our work cut out for us the following day...
the schedule said:
9:15--monty nudge omi awake to call julia
9:30--monty possibly drive to julia's to get recruits (we had discovered that we needed a couple of extra people for this show to work! (especially after golden decided she didn't like to have any part of this show except be in the ballet dance, which was written for sparrow and danielle...) enter the tucker family! whew!)
well, ALL of this happened, and more! we were AMAZING that day! elizabeth and bekah were indeed loaned to us for the day, and bekah was such a natural little actress that she really enhanced the show. elizabeth was my curtain pulling buddy. thomas had originally been on curtains with me, but the night before we'd realized we needed him backstage at a job where he could be free to get the baby or hold golden back from jumping onstage if need be. oh, what we did that day! the background went up, was touched up, the sheet for the stage went up, the music was fixed, the roman soldier costume finished, jewels glued on to treasure boxes, further notes and adjustments made, the apartment (where our audience would be seated) cleaned up, and all the while normal feeding and napping going on with the little ones. wow! we managed to start 1st dress rehearsal at 11 and the 2nd at 4:00. pretty good, for wycliffe time! and we were feeling soooooo much better. by the time guests began to arrive, we were feeling excited, ready, and confident.
the show went BEAUTIFULLY! sparrow and danielle danced their choreography better than they ever had before. curtains were opened and closed at the proper time. we had one glitch in one of our songs, and that was IT! everything else went better than expected. elation! afterward we had cookies and coffee and cider with our guests, in our kitchen that was crammed full of props: inn front, stable, donkey, and the floating ox head. hahaha! the children played and romped together for hours, people stayed and talked, and later, only the oldies but goodies were left: omi, monty, emi, jonathan, and hannah. at which point we grabbed the guitar and had a christmas song fest! we even sang the orchestra song in a round, which i have been wanting to do for ages but our children are too little to hold a part by themselves! thomas is such a good sport and sings "the horn, the horn, it sounds so forlorn" like a champ. however, when we do this at home, i have to let the tape recorder take one of the parts (i have sung it into the recorder in advance, of course...) haha! at any rate, our rendition with friends is up on you tube here. i think this was our first rendition! not bad! ...ok, not great. but soooooooo fun!
the following day was christmas eve. we had found out just a few days before that rick was going to drive out to see us after all, hurrah! and he was coming on christmas eve. the day was spent trying to clear the house out a bit of our props, etc. and put things in order again. and cooking, of course! my presents for people this year were mostly food items: nut mixes and cookies, etc. then we were roasting a chicken for our dinner that evening: an awesome recipe by ina garten, but halfway through cooking it i got grossed out by the bacon smell and took the bacon strips off of it. it was still super tasty without the bacon. i recommend putting a 1/4 cup of butter under the skin at the breast instead, and seasoning it under the skin as well, yummy, yummy! we put mushrooms, onions, and potatoes around the chicken in the pan. amazing.
we attended a candle light service at grace community church that evening, which was lovely. no family picture, though! i could kick myself for neglecting that, when it is so rare that we all are dressed up at the same time! even silas had on a christmas sweater, and golden was in this ridiculously puffy plaid dress and little black velvet jacket, courtesy of cousin teresa. we loved it! she was clacking her black hand-me-down sunday shoes like she was the luckiest princess in the world! which she is, of course. God has provided even suck luxuries as clacky sunday shoes. the newberg family was in attendance, and we sat right next to them. afterward, mrs. newberg said God had laid it on her heart to give us $20! what a gorgeous woman. God is so faithful.
then back home to our chicken--yes, we had left it in the oven to finish up, as we had run out of time to eat it before going to service! oooooooh was dinner delicious! uncle did not arrive in time, but never fear: he had gotten himself in-n-out on the way over here, which is just as good of a christmas eve dinner to him! he did finally make it at 11:00 or so; i was wrapping presents: ALL the presents, because i had been putting it off until after the show. oops! i will never do that again! i was up til 4:30! ...but i feel God may be changing the whole format of our christmases anyways, to phase out the present thing and be able to focus more on the glorious arrival of that holy babe! i just know that when i was growing up, the excitement over presents definitely trumped the whole Jesus thing, and i did experience some years of emptiness at christmas when i grew up, only to come around to finding true joy in Jesus later on. we shall see. i don't think presents in themselves are evil, obviously. I love giving presents to my little ones! i try not to go overboard: we usually do some art supplies, a toy, some dress-up stuff, and clothes. this year i did much better with not overdoing things. i really don't like the me, me, me attitude that comes up in the little ones when they are opening things hastily, and i could tell that thomas did not enjoy watching them fall upon the loot, either!
but christmas morning did come, bright and sunny beautiful, and we thanked the Lord for his abundant blessings, having our christmas morning at home, then off to graham central for a late breakfast with everybody. oh MY! there we were exceedingly spoiled with a huge bag of trader joe's goodies and marvelous gifts of clothes, cups, toys, candles, gift cards, etc. etc. i even got a pressure cooker from omi and monty! and that was AFTER they gave us a 2 month netflix subscription! sheesh! definitely, it will be hard to say no to doing presents in this neighborhood! but we shall see. either way, God is working on and transforming this family.
the children played, we had a typical holiday at grahams just relaxing and having FUN! we had a nap at home at mid-day (except sparrow who stayed to play) and then, though we had not planned to, were convinced to go back for christmas dinner and just spend the rest of the day! we had a walk, pie, etc. etc. what a lovely family they are. God, bless the Grahams for every way they have taken us in and treated us like their own.
i felt under such grace. Christ is come!