Our times together over this past week have had a lot of gifts in them. We had a very lovely Christmas at home, and are still looking forward to more celebrations this coming weekend when the Benner family arrives in Keezletown for a few days of fun family times. We had blocked out most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to just be together as a family, along with my folks. During the afternoon on Christmas Eve we did our Adopt a Highway trash pick up all together. My emotions followed the very typical pattern - at the beginning I enjoy being outside and walking and I feel good about beautifying our roadside a bit. By the end I find myself feeling really annoyed at anyone who feels ok about flinging a bottle out their car door and somewhat depressed by trash in general and the fact that we are mostly just moving the stuff around (out of our site and to the landfill or at best made into more stuff that most of us probably don't need). I noted this time that maybe they figured that a 2 mile stretch of road is about as far as anyone can go and keep up a good attitude while removing all the litter. I am glad we do it and it was highly entertaining to do it with the girls, just wish it was unnecessary.
The evening of Christmas Eve was the highlight of my holiday season to date. I remember fondly a tradition from growing up where we each got to pick an activity that we all did together and where in our house that activity took place. I remember my sister B leading us all in gymnastics one year and I remember eating Christmas cookies in our downstairs bedroom and opening my cabbage patch dolls there. So as we were anticipating the holiday at home, I hatched the idea of giving it a try and the idea was very appealing to the girls. They got so excited about choosing their half hour and I think the evening measured up to everyone's expectations.
After a delicious soup dinner upstairs, Alida kicked off the evening with an art lesson. She told each of us what to draw and offered a few pointers along the way, but mostly chattered nonstop for the half hour. Kali went next and had us play "pin the carrot nose on the snowman." I was, once again, inspired and tickled by her creativity and enthusiasm. We all got some good laughs during that half hour. Mom had printed off Christmas themed coloring sheets so next we got to do some more coloring, this time with homemade dark chocolates to sweeten the time! Alida was relieved that someone (me) had chosen decorating cookies for their half hour - Jason made two batches of popcorn for seed testing, we got hot drinks going and I brought out the gingerbread cookies we have made earlier that day with our home grown ginger and various options for decorating them. Jason shared a few excerpts from a Wendell Berry book he is reading and then we had Alida open a Christmas present. We all enjoyed learning how to play the new cooperative game she got where you try to work together to not let animals go extinct. And finally Dad read us a Christmas story and then we all took a quiet moonlit walk down the lane. Alida didn't make it to the bottom of the driveway before sacking out in the jogger (too much Christmas fun and she was tuckered out), which made the walk considerably quieter for the rest of us. After a good number of rainy cloudy days, it was beautiful to see the stars in the sky and to admire the ring of light around the moon. A wonderful culmination to a very fun evening. Terah did great too and seemed to enjoy the evening even if she isn't quite ready to color with us or decorate cookies. It won't be long!
The girls were super excited about Christmas day too - Alida was probably most excited about presents and about being a zebra. I don't know how or why she hatched the idea but she didn't forget about it. And it was even plenty warm enough for her outfit. At one point I was feeling a little concerned about Alida's obsession with presents. By the end of Christmas morning, my worries had vanished and were replaced with admiration and amusement. Alida had had a lot of fun putting things in our stockings. The silly items included a pair of gloves from our regular supply that she put in Kali's stocking and a brown scarf Kali had knitted for herself landed in my stocking. But then in my stocking there were three adorable little coupons from Alida - one for cuddle time, one for a family walk and one for a hair playing session. Those are keepers! The present that I felt most uncomfortable receiving was the package she had wrapped with $10 one dollar bills for me. She apparently told Jason she had a lot and didn't need it all. I have such a hard time taking money from my children. It's set aside with the coupons to use for some fun activity together sometime.
Jason and I (other than unlimited milk!) didn't get anything for Terah's first Christmas, but the girls and Grandma and Grandpa made sure she had some things in her stocking. She was more interested in all the goings on than I thought she might be, and seemed pleased with her new little Cordoroy board books and the already loved stuff animals. I think for all of us Terah is definitely the best present of this year's Christmas celebrations! It's fun to celebrate the holiday with a baby who is waking up to the world around her and finding it endlessly entertaining (unless, that is, she is tired, hungry or wet)...
Kali opened her new cooperative game Christmas morning and we enjoyed playing Starwords together (note: it is very intentional that we purchased cooperative rather than competitive games this Christmas, especially with our middle daughter in mind!) The rest of the day was spent eating lots of delicious food from our land and enjoying more game playing together than we normally can fit into a given day. Of course there was lots of baby cuddling and adoring fit into all the available cracks of the day. Here's a few other pictures of some holiday highlights:
|Harvesting our Christmas tree after our return from West Virgina|
|Wearing "gives peas a change" - the only outfit I remember buying for Kali before her birth!|
|Cutting out gingerbread cookies!|
|She's trying to take it all in.|
|One of many delicious meals shared together!|