Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Night of Nights...

Chicken cordon bleu over rice drizzled with a cream-of-chicken sauce, peas, salad, festive drinks....

After dinner it was time for the nativity. This year Connor produced a full show--including narration (by me) interspersed with Christmas hymns and carols. Connor played the piano and the rest of us made up the not-so-heavenly-but-certainly-trying-our-best choir. Emily was our official angel proclaiming peace and glad tidings to all. Jason was our Joseph, Natalie our Mary. One of Emily's stuffed-toy dogs swaddled in a blanket was our baby Jesus. Connor and Ryan were our two kings. Tanner had been banished to his room for a while so the angel's proclamation of "peace" might come true (Hey, he needed a little nap anyway....)

I even dusted off my guitar and brushed up on a 3/4 pick. Away in a Manger has certainly sounded better.

Jason left his drumset in the basement, shook some rust off his bygone piano-playing days and favored us with a piece. Natalie read a poem. Emily sang a solo.

The nativity complete, Connor then presented me with a special gift--an illustrated children's book by author Mauri Kunnas called Twelve Gifts for Santa Claus. This was an especially thoughtful gift because I had bought another Mauri Kunnas book, Santa Claus, exactly twenty years ago in Finland. Reading Santa Claus to the kids has become somewhat of a White family tradition--and finding a copy of the Twelve Gifts for Santa Claus was a feat that Connor pulled off using ingenuity, Google, and Ebay--all the while dodging book collectors who were willing to pay nearly a hundred bucks for it.

How could I resist reading it to them all?

Not long after that the jingle of sleigh bells and a hearty "ho, ho, ho" came from the porch...and in walked St. Nick. Little Tanner (recently freed from his bed) immediately rushed up for a hug--then decided that Santa might be a tad scary. Ryan had learned from his many past Christmases (three), that Santa was a great hugger and went at it with gusto.

There have been years when Santa was kind of quiet...but this wasn't one of them. Santa remarked that it looked like we already had "plenty of presents" under the tree--and perhaps he'd just take the ones he had in his bag back to the North Pole. Ryan was so giddy he didn't quite understand the implications and quickly agreed that we already had "plenty."

Other jokes followed--including Santa saying that, "As long as you never move from this house I'll always be able to find you...." Somehow we think that Santa may have heard that we've been talking to real estate agents....

After Santa left we began opening presents...and that's when the chaos truly began. Lots of fun and thoughtful gifts were given but nothing topped Lori's gift of a handmade blanket to each of us.

"Every time you snuggle in these blankets, just think of my arms around you...."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Day...the Long Wait

We stayed up pretty late last night. This morning the kids were cacooned in their blankets lying all over the family room--only Annie the dog popped her head up as I walked in.

Breakfast this morning was hot riisipuuro (rice pudding) smothered in cold kiisseli (berry sauce). Yum. Lori made the riisipuuro better than I've ever made it.

As I was cleaning out my office, Ryan came in with two paper plates full of pistachios...one of our shared favorites! How could I resist when he said, "Want some Dad?"

The older kids are practically pacing the floor waiting for the daylight to fade. Connor decides to play some Christmas carols on the piano as Emily sings. Anything to kill time. They know that Santa is coming tonight. He'll walk right through the door with a bag of presents while we're hiding around the family room. He'll put some presents around the tree and fill the stockings and his voice will sound oddly like one of our neighbors.

We'll all give him a hug as he finishes the stockings. Then we'll give him a treat, wish him Merry Christmas and send him on his way. After that, we bust open all the presents.

One of Emily's little friends heard that Santa actually walks through our door and we see him. She asked if she could come over for a "late night" so she could see Santa (Santa comes unseen during the middle of the night at her house). We told her that Christmas Eve was a family day...so "no" on the late night. You can't blame her for trying....

Christmas Eve Eve

It's Christmas Eve Eve. The older kids are sleeping in the family room. Angel chimes are tinkling in the corner, the tree is lit, and Kenny Loggins is singing The Christmas Song. Jason an I are the only ones awake. He's reading a book and I'm writing a blog.

Lori's sleeping upstairs--worn out by all the Christmas preparations. She's been making blankets for everyone. She insisted that each one of us visit the fabric store with her to personally pick out our favorite fabrics for an individualized "blankie". Yup, that's what I call 'em too--at least in the confines of our own home. Nothing beats a good nap blanket (or a good nap, for that matter). My blanket is a dark red fleece with a horse motif framed by a solid black fleece. Sort of a Navajo/cowboy looking thing. I love it.