Today is the day we break down the tree and put away the Christmas ornaments. It’s the bittersweet counterpoint to the day after Thanksgiving. Well, honestly, this year it’s the bittercold counterpoint. This Christmas break period is one of the coldest stretches I ever remember. Twenty degrees seems warm by comparison.
My sons were 9 and 12 this Christmas. That’s a little past Santa age. But it’s the beginning of great gifts age. Both of my sons gave me thoughtful and kind gifts. Grey gave me a Starbucks Christmas ornament. Thane got me some sparkly dice. I love watching people learn the joy of finding a great gift for a friend! When I was a kid, my folks used to wrap in my mom and dad’s bedroom. My mom would finish wrapping a present, open her door with a bang, put the present down, and slam the door shut. We kids would race at full speed to pick up the package, shake it, contemplate it, smell it, and place it under the tree. We’d arrange and rearrange the packages under the tree constantly. But historically, my kids just didn’t want it to work that way. Grey doesn’t actually like anticipation. He’d rather have a surprise and no waiting. This year, though, they were in for it! Bonus – it was great exercise from the attic to the tree.
We’ve developed our own set of Christmas traditions. There’s the getting of the tree. We like to go to Beverly Tree Farm (which sells out Thanksgiving weekend every year). There’s the hanging of the ornaments and lighting of the tree. This year we did an Advent candle liturgy, where we talked about the week of advent (Peace, Hope, Love, Joy) and lit the candles together.
Christmas Eve Eve, after the rehearsal, Adam and I went to a Blue Heron concert (one of my presents!). It was magical. I’d forgotten just how much I love early music. It made me feel so happy. (He even sprung for front row seats – which are rather more obtainable at medieval music concerts than at rock ones.) In the dark church we shared a moment with our ancestors six hundred year ago. It was an incredibly icy day, and afterwards we carefully picked our way across Cambridge to get cookies at Insomnia Cookies. Best date ever!! (Best of all, he got me all their CDs and a really cool book about the creation of western music notation!)
Christmas Eve is all tableaux. This is the third year I’ve taken the helm of the Christmas show. I’m wondering how many years it will take until I feel like I am creating instead of remembering how it should go! I was super lucky this year to get some extremely capable help with the costumes. I’m TERRIBLE at costumes and my dear friend who helped me is awesome at them. Next year – we need new angels and maybe a new Mary. This year’s service was pretty magical. There was a medical emergency just as we were getting started (thankfully nothing that ended up being too serious!). Blue and red flashing lights are pretty, but not quite the festive we were looking for.
But after that, the old, old story carried its majesty. Mary was teeny tiny. The angel Gabriel was glorious. Joseph was solicitous to his bride (half his height!). The shepherds were appropriately amazed. In perhaps the greatest Christmas miracle of all, the Herald Angel kept his face serious while angeling to the shepherds. And baby Eddie as Jesus looked very sweet indeed. Our youth soloist sounded amazing. Better yet, with the new candles we ordered, no wax got on Christmas costumes. #miracles You can see it here if you’d like. I got to do some trumpeting afterwards, and by 8 pm on Christmas eve I was breathless and full of hope and joy in the season. Thane stayed with me until 9, when we’d gotten things mostly cleaned up, and we left the quiet dark church together to go home to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.
Our Christmas mornings, we open up our stockings together first. (There was the memorable year where the kids didn’t wake us up and started opening presents on their own – a tale which will be told in our house for the rest of their lives…) Then breakfast, and presents! Yay presents! This year, we went to a neighbors for brunch and then the snow shoveling. The Christmas snow that was falling so beautifully needed to be shoveled. It needed to be shoveled VERY WELL because the forecast showed not a hint of melting. (It still doesn’t – the 10 day forecast doesn’t have a single temperature above freezing. It’s January 9 before we get UP to 32 degrees.) But it was a peaceful feeling to dig out on a Christmas day. We helped dig out a neighbor’s house too, which felt very virtuous and in the Christmas spirit.
We had friends over for dinner on Christmas night. It was lovely way to close a lovely day, with friends and conversation!
It was, all told, a fantastic Christmas season. I’m sad to say farewell to it! Until next year!