I finally put the last Christmas box back in its place yesterday. And it’s February. Yep, that’s how I’m running lately. But I’m telling myself that it’s ok to be behind. I’m learning that the present is pressing and precious with these little kids.
So, it’s late and I’m going to take a stab at documenting our holiday season in one go. ready? go.The craziness always starts with sending out our Thanksgiving cards. I was super on top of things this year, got them ordered way before I usually do, but of course there was a printing error and I had to have them reprinted, so it was a mad dash at the end. Employing these little child workers of mine to lick and stamp. I’m pretty sure there were a few bloody finger prints from paper cuts on the envelopes and lots of the return address stamps were upside down. But they got out the door and only a few came back stamp-less. And then there’s all the photo editing that I’m up to my gills in until Thanksgiving when I’ve always made a firm cut off. No more editing or photoshoots after thanksgiving. As much as I LOVE this work of mine, it always feels so good to get those last images all fixed up and sent off. Thanksgiving was mellow this year. We didn’t have any out of town guests. Just us. Which meant we were on our own to make the big meal, but the kids helped out and we pulled off a great feast. My goodness that’s a lot of work for a few moments of eating pleasure. In the end it’s always worth all the sweat and oven burns and mess. Before dinner we did take a little break to go and play a little family game of football. We had a new family from church over for dinner. They have kids Hazel and Charlie’s age, which is awesome. We’ve been praying for more kids to join our congregation. (Of course I didn’t think to snap a picture until we had devoured all that beautiful food). The day after Thanksgiving we headed off for NYC to see Noah and Kristi who were in town visiting Eli and Julie. It was so great to be all together. At least I thought so. Jeff get’s a little motion sickness being stuck on the “Eyre Train.” There is something in our blood that makes us all want to pack it all into whatever little time we have. Jeff is always astonished that we’re moving onto another activity instead of going home for a rest. But that Eyre train kept on rolling. We ate at Shake Shack, took a little spin through the natural history museum, played football in the park (it was such a beautiful day) and watched street performers and went to the playground and then went for a walk down fifth avenue to see the Christmas windows and lights and then had some incredible street food for dinner and took a spin in the MOA and then finally walked through mid-town to the subway to head home. Needless to say Jeff opted out of the late night chat back at Eli and Julies. Man I love these people. The next day we got to celebrate Bennett’s birthday with him at Jacobs pickle for breakfast before we headed home. Charlie especially liked connecting with the other Dean of the Eyre cousins. We went home via Connecticut and the Maple Row Tree Farm where a work colleague of Jeff’s grew up. He gave us the royal treatment despite our LOUD disputes over which tree to get. Emmeline did not get the tree she wanted. Apparently no one ever listens to her opinions, the tree was the worst tree ever, she was going to destroy it, and she hated us all. This was all screamed at us as we cut down the finally chosen tree, making many onlookers merry. Hazel had lots of great holiday concerts with the Boston Children’s Chorus. I love watching her sing. We got WAY too many Amazon boxes. This is going to change next year. The kids spent a GLORIOUS Sunday in their PJ’s playing survivor in the back yard. For weeks they deemed it the best day of their lives. They built their very own little fire, roasted peanuts in tinfoil and hosted some tea parties. I love what these kids do with unstructured time. Liz and Heidi and I got to make our wreaths and bake our cookies. I love my two Christmas events with these girls. Hazel took LOADS of selfies. She’s got that face down, as well as lots of new editing skilz.We took the big kids to Trinity Church Candlelight carols. I think this is my very favorite holiday event. The music is fantastic and the ambiance with candles in that amazing church is even better. The congregation sings many carols together and that always gets me. There is something about christmas carol lyrics that really brings the miracle of Christmas into my soul. It’s especially great to sing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” there in that church since Phillip Brooks (the writer of those lyrics) was the first Pastor at Trinity Church. And after the concert we take the kids out to a ‘fancy’ dinner. It’s pretty great to have some time with just those kids, in Boston all lit up in Christmas magesty. I went, for the last time, to the Rockland Montessori Academy holiday pageant. This is not my favorite event ever, lots of parents with cameras, lots of chaos. But I’ve been every year for 8 years now. I felt nostalgic for a few seconds as I watched my little angel up there sing. The Rockland has been SOOO good for our family. I love how confident and happy my kids have been there. Got this card in the mail. I think it pretty much summed up how I felt mid season. Lots of half done things. Like this “Christmas Sunday” photo:I tried to get them all dolled up in something christmassy for church like I saw so many doing on Instagram, but in the end, nothing really matched, hair wasn’t totally brushed and I forgot to take the picture until after church when it was getting dark and everyone (especially blurry Charlie) was in a rush to get inside. We hosted a bunch of Jeff’s work colleagues at hour house for a little holiday party. It was so great to get to meet so many cool people that he works with. Social Finance sure attracts fantastically kind and fun people. They all loved meeting the kids and even sat through a little concert. #yikes! For our Joy School Christmas party we went to perform a little nativity play at a senior rehab center near us. I took my kids out of school so that they could play a little rendition of silent night that Hazel composed for her to play on the piano with Charlie at the Cello and Em at the Violin. My mom took us so many times to “old folks homes” to play when we were growing up and I loved it, so in her honor my kids played hooky and we all went. We tried to do a few good deeds (24 days of giving….such a cool idea, though we weren’t as diligent as we were last year). We went to the firehouse with doughnuts and paid for someone’s items at the dollar store. My kids just eat this stuff up. It was Hazel’s church teacher’s birthday a few days before Christmas and she had the idea that we should make her a cake. She decorated it so beautifully, but the car ride wasn’t kind to it….I’m sure it still tasted good and it made our friend tear up with thankfulness for Hazel’s little golden heart.
And of course we did our Children for Children concert which I blogged about back here… And then our Nazareth super a few days before Christmas. This little shin-dig is getting bigger as kids get bigger and it’s also getting a little more meaningful. Everyone came dressed as someone from the Christmas story, ready to act as if they were dining with Mary and Joseph and family before heading off from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We eat Falafel and sing Oh Come Immanuel and dine on the floor and introduce ourselves in character, telling how we might feel if we were in our characters shoes. It’s a little chaotic, a little uncomfortable, I’m always a little worried about breaking the plates I brought back from study abroad in Jerusalem. But the spirit always fills the room and I love the pause it gives us all to stop and think more deeply about the reality of Christ’s birth and what it is we’re celebrating. We always sing Christmas carols after costumes are taken off and things are cleaned up. I love this part too.
And then there’s the sleeping by the Christmas tree. This happens earlier on in December, but I wanted to end with this picture because I love it. On this particular day we had had a lot of fighting, lots of bickering and short fuses and not a lot of patience on my end. But finally they all settled down under the light of the tree and the house was calm and I read the Christmas chapter of Little Women to them and we sang some songs and then I read the Longfellow poem, I heard the bells on Christmas Day. And those words really hit home, for in despair I had hung my head that day, saying there is no peace on earth, hate was strong, mocking the song of peace on earth. This serenity beneath the Christmas lights reminded me that God is not dead, nor doth he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, there will be peace on earth, good will to men (and siblings!).
I’m trying to remember this message throughout this next year, the message of my Christmas season. The whole will glisten. There will be rough times where it looks like hate is too strong, my kids will fight, I will loose my temper, we will be tired and stressed at times. There will be chaos. But I’m sure that God is not dead. If we keep looking up, keep working hard, keep at it day after day the wrong shall fail and the right prevail. I’m trying this year to seize those moments of peace here in our home. Make them stick.