Another busy weekend, but with more to show for it than just exhaustion on Monday! Where to begin,...
Friday was the Christmas party for our new Bible Study group, at the Sallade's home. Jim got home from Philadelphia just in time to change and leave with me. We were worried that he might need to meet me there, since I needed to drop Erin off at a sleep-over party on the way, and therefore needed to leave promptly at 6. We took jalapeno pepper bites along to share at the party, and they were a hit. I have taken those to almost every party we've been to in the last 10 years, and if these folks hadn't liked them we might have had to change to a different group- compatability you know. It was a very nice get-together, but it did highlight for us again just how very much we miss our dear friends in Florida.
Saturday morning we dropped Kate off to carpool to her Lacrosse game with the rest of the team so that we could take the others Christmas shopping. Erin had enjoyed her party and was ready to go when we picked her up at 9:30. From there we hit the stores, not in a mall but a large plaza with a good variety of stores at which we regularly shop. Each year the children have bought gifts for one another; some years it's been at the dollar store, others at school. This year since we are still "setting up house" we went to the real stores for things we'd probably be buying anyway- but it's much more fun to unwrap them on Christmas morning!
After a Chik-fil-a lunch we picked Kate up and went to Ten Thousand Villages for the not-so-practical gifts. This is the store with the coolest stuff from around the world. It was started as a Mennonite Mission to help people in poor countries worldwide to sell their handicrafts. The items in the store range from handmade musical instruments to clothing to toys. There's a whole section for beautiful rugs and tapestries from Pakistan. This time of year there are Christmas ornaments and hand-carved nativity sets from villages worldwide. Each item is labeled with its country of origin and some come with an explanation of how they were made. To learn more about this unique place and see some of their goods just visit the website, http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/
Enough sales pitch, we've just fallen in love with the place...
After we unloaded the van of all the purchases- only Jim could see it all- we grabbed the saw and went to the tree farm! There must be a dozen tree farms in the area and we went to Sheerlund Forest, which is one of the closest. As we were driving in past one field of trees we saw a familiar looking family hunting for a tree. It was one of our new church's elders with his kids- small world! After learning how to go about getting a tree we headed out to find the very best one! After a bit of searching we found it, and Jim, Isaac and Rebekah took turns at the saw and felled our tree! Within an hour the tree was home and in the tree stand having a long drink.
By then it was time for Rebekah to go to her friend Katie's house to get dressed for the Christmas Dance at school. Kate took the van to pick up Laura, who was getting ready here. Then it was all girly giggles upstairs while they beautified themselves- not a difficult task. Instead of straightening their hair they opted for curls- my preference- and then donned their dresses which they'd bought the week before. Once they left those of us at home could breathe a sigh of relief.
Jim found the boxes of lights and ornaments and some wrapping began. I picked Rebekah and Katie up from the dance and Kate brought Laura here after everything finished for them and we settled in for a shorter winter's nap than we would have liked. But bright and early the next morning we got ready for church, except for Jim and Isaac, neither of whom felt well. So the girls went to church while the fellas slept in.
Fortunately they felt better in the afternoon because we had a concert to attend and a tree to decorate! Rebekah's concert choir at school was putting on the Christmas concert yesterday with the orchestra and two other singing groups. It was a lovely show, with songs celebrating the birth of Christ, the Hanukkah miracle and wintertime. In this choir Bekah is one of 220, and they sounded magnificent.
Once home again it was back to the tree. Getting the lights on is always the hardest part and Jim helped a lot. Once the lights were up and the stockings hung, (by the chimney with care!) we settled in for a Christmas movie. Kate and her friend Tyson went to youth group- every other week it's for 10th to 12th grade only (?). After they returned Tyson stayed to hang out while we finished decorating the tree. The ornaments all hold such dear memories and it's such fun for the kids. Since we had given them hot cocoa earlier they were a bit hyper, so it really went quickly!
I'm so glad that we've broken the "having friends over to hang out with the family" barrier. It began with girl friends, but now that Tyson has been here, and not run screaming into the night, I think there's hope. We've wanted to be the home where our children's friends come to play or "hang", and now that we have a home big enough it's a matter of getting into that groove. With Nathaniel we merely needed to provide the snacks and the TV, then sit back and enjoy as the fun unfolded. As far as boys go, they're easy; if you feed them, they will show up. What we're learning with Kate is that the potential for embarrasment can be fatal to any gathering. She's as skittish as a deer, but I think last night helped a lot. We proved ourselves to be just normal enough- nobody picked their nose or started a belching contest, so we're okay, socially acceptable even!
With all seven of our stockings hanging by the tree we are reminded again that Nathaniel is not here to help hang ornaments on the tree or to enjoy any of the activities that are keeping us so busy. We are still so proud of him, but we sure miss our boy. His presents for us arrived last week and ours are on the way to him, but it's not the same without him here. Watching his face as he opens the funny gift is one of my favorite things. We'll have to settle for the delayed reaction this year.