More Christmas Memories

We had a grand time at Silver Dollar City on December 22nd.  We rode a few rides, ate kettle corn, looked at various stores, did not eat supper there, and enjoyed the lights.  It was very Christmas-y and festive.  Of course, the highlight of that evening was the lighting of the Christmas tree.  It did not play the “Hallelujah Chorus,” but it did play the “Carol of the Bells,” so there was great rejoicing.  It will be noted that Llamas who wear lightweight jackets with no hats or gloves in cold, windy conditions will be unable to maintain a sufficient body temperature to allow them to fully enjoy their surroundings.  Likewise for Lemurs, but at least neither species complained much.  I must also add that the crowds departing from the City were totally unbelievable.  We gave up ever trying to get on a tram, but just in attempting to get to the egress that would let us walk to our car, we were crushed in a claustrophobia-inducing press of bodies, the likes of which I had never personally witnessed at SDC.

We had a real tree again this year, obtained and decorated in true Roberts style on December 17.  This year, I think we set a record for the greatest length of time to have our tree up.  We took it down today (January 3), having enjoyed it for a full 18 days.  To its credit, it stayed lovely till the very end, when Josiah rather unceremoniously hauled it – dripping both water and needles – from the living room, into the dining room, through the breezeway (getting it through that breezeway door took a LOT of pulling, tugging, and grunting), and out toward the ditch and/or burn pile.

The reason we had our tree up so long this time was that my mom had the audacity to have her eyelids raised a few days before Christmas.  Following this outpatient surgery, she was not supposed to travel until she had seen the doc for a follow-up visit on December 29. Mom and Dad have come up to see us every year for a couple days right after Christmas, but this year that visit was delayed a week, so we left the tree and other items of decor up and out, so that we could have a cheery Christmas celebration with them yesterday.

In other matters of tradition. . .

Josiah wrapped his packages on Christmas eve.

Although I always worry that there won’t be enough stuff in people’s stockings, we were not able to get it all shoved in, and I had to resort to four gift bags for the candy.

I took an early morning walk that was wonderful.

We had breakfast casserole with fresh pineapple for breakfast.  (Non-traditionally, this year we added Jewish Apple Cake to the menu, as well.)

We ate our breakfast on paper plates with plastic cutlery.

Non-traditionally, we forewent the reading of Luke 2 and instead asked each family member to share a scripture that he or she though embodies the real meaning of Christmas and tell why.  We had six really good offerings.

It took about two-and-a-half hours to open all the gifts!

I was TOTALLY blessed and overwhelmed with all the wonderful and meaningful gifts the kids and Scott gave me.  A short list of items that made me smile and/or cry (and some still do) would include my tiny yellow bear, the piano music to Rich Mullins’ song, “Peace,” my preamble mousepad, and the first and only hardcover edition of “The Best of Walnut Shade Mom.”  WOW, WOW, WOW!

It seems that everyone was pleased with what he or she gave and what he or she received.  For the rest of the day we relaxed, took a walk to Big Rock, did whatever we wanted to do, and ate whatever we wanted to eat, including, but certainly not limited to Bird’s Nest Cookies, dipped pretzels, Craisin cookies, Christmas Cookie Balls, and Oreo Balls.  We also made up a batch of hot cider that was deemed “excellent.”

During this holiday season, we have been trying to do a lot of things together; that is, activities that involve all six of in the same place at the same time.  Please understand that in a family like ours, where we can’t even agree on basic food preferences, it’s very hard to come up with things that all six of us like to do, so we made a list on the marker board of some 20 possibilities, and then we took turns selecting an activity; the rule being that you did what the specific person selected, whether you liked it or not.

I doubt I can remember all of those activities but here are some of them.

We worked a 500 piece puzzle that was an American flag made entirely of postage stamps.  More accurately, Josiah ironed the $15 (?!?!) piece of felt that was billed as a puzzle mat and then bopped his brother with the elongated white vinyl balloon around which the puzzle was to be rolled, while Jessica and I worked on the edges.  Over the next few hours, Scott and Katie completed the puzzle.  Amazing!

We tried only – marginally successfully – to play Piggyback Ping-Pong.  I think it was Andrew on Katie against Jessica on Scott (or something like that).  I stayed off people’s backs and just took pictures on that one.

We did enjoy several rounds of triples ping-pong. It’s played like doubles, except that there are three on each end, and they take turns hitting the ball.  The biggest challenge for me was remembering who I was supposed to hit after.

We made cookies.

We played Crazy Bridge backwards (10 down to three, I think).

And we played a game that Jessica learned from a friend, and which we now call, “Chicken in the Party Van.”  It involves drawing little pictures and trying to guess what has been drawn.  It is totally laugh-till-your-face-hurts hilarious.   We even conned may parents into playing it, and my dad is NOT a game player.  One of the funniest ones was when Grandpa’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out,” morphed into “A Man Going Down the Line Firing Cannons.”  Oh, how we laughed!

The kids have been playing a lot of Worms and Crusader.  Jessica and Katie are playing Nancy Drew.  Scott and the girls and I have played a great number of hands of bridge, and we have enjoyed all but one of those.  Katie had found Scott a brand new, still in the wrapper, set of KEM cards (probably 1970s vintage) at a thrift store in Virginia (can you believe it?!?), and the cards were stated to be guaranteed for six hundred rubbers of bridge or one year, whichever came first.  Scott decided to try to prove it; hence the excessive playing of bridge.  How very fun!

We watched some Star Trek, which brought back memories for me.

We did a few days of school between Christmas and New Year’s but it wasn’t too intense.  Scott did some work.  There was a cleaning of the vacation rental home. Katie’s been working a bit on her thesis and wishing that the Springfield library processed inter-library loans as quickly as Patrick Henry College does.  There have been some meetings concerning Scott and Josiah’s upcoming mission trip to Niger.  Jessica’s been making lists for her soon departure to Hong Kong and other locations in Asia.

Katie and I have played some pool (it was one of those nights where you takes turns scratching so many times that eventually there aren’t any more balls to pull back out), some Take Two (she’s won two out of three rounds and is cumulatively ahead by something like 175, but I doggedly refuse to give up), and quite a few delightful rounds of Library Re-Org.  This is a game we both enjoy greatly.  In fact, I have decided that it’s really necessary to maintain a decent stash of unnecessary books, so that when Katie comes home, we can cull the collection and reorganized things.  We have pbs-ed and otherwise unloaded a small boat load (a canoe-load perhaps?) of unwanted, unneeded books, and hopefully someday those will turn into books we really will read, books for the rental house library and/or college books for Josiah. Which, by the way, on or about December 23, he received notice that he was accepted to Patrick Henry College for the fall of 2012, WITH a hefty scholarship that will be renewable for four years!  Go Llama!!  Yee hah!!!  We’re all terribly proud and happy.

Basically, I have just been breathing deeply and reveling in having all six of us here together for the past three weeks.  It’s been like the good old days, but these have become the good new days.  God is so very gracious to us.  We’ve made some very special Christmas memories, even down to Andrew singing in an operatic voice, “running like a chicken with your head cut OFF!”

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