Sunday, December 20, 2009

Classic Abby at the Eleventh Hour

It's 4:00 and I'm totally avoiding the fact that I need to leave the house in about an hour with a couple dozen cut, baked, and decorated cookies that are currently in a dough state inside my refrigerator. Perfect time for a blog post, no? I feel the need to say that I am in serious trouble all around with regard to Christmas and it all pretty much looks about like trying to get those cookies to church in time for Lessons and Carols. I haven't even taken a picture for our Christmas cards. Is there any conceivable way I can actually get the picture taken, reprinted, and stuffed into addressed envelopes so that I can send the necessary 50+ cards out? And how do we even have 50 people to send them to? We don't receive 50 cards by any means. I think we get about half that at best! And people will understand... I just can't seem to let it go yet. But even if I do eventually nix the cards, there is still the concern of gifts. Last year I took care of extended family and got nothing for my children. In the end, the Lord graciously provided. But this year, I decided that it might not go the same way and that I wanted to put my own children first. Well, I am glad I did. Except that here we are with only five days until Christmas and packages needing to be mailed ASAP, and I have nothing to actually send! Yikes! So the whole shebang is kind of like how everyone but me is asleep at my house, I'm wearing sweat pants, 15 minutes have elapsed, and I'm still trying to think we're all going to get there on time! I will let you know how it goes.

So, I did make it! I ended up taking the cookies undecorated and decorating them in the church kitchen during the prelude so I didn't miss any of the lessons or carols. I also mended Amabel's dress before we left! And we got there in plenty of time for George to meet up with his mom and save us all some great seats. I remember from high school mock interviews (which is a whole embarrassing story of its own) that I already had the realization that one of my greatest weaknesses was procrastination, but that it fueled one of my strengths, working well under pressure. If I could just remember that in the moment! So, I have taken heart, and I am fixing to head out on a major shopping expedition, three kids in tow, and only today to get it bought, wrapped, boxed, and in the mail (and only about $40 to spend). I will let you know how that goes. Oh, and in the spirit of following through, I thought I'd mention that we ended up with about an inch and a half of snow Saturday morning, most of which is still a nice crunchy white covering on everything I can see from my window. I hope we get some more on a day that I will actually have time to be still and admire it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First Snow

Right now outside my window, it's snowing the first snow of the Christmas season. And it's lovely. I feel very cozy all tucked away in the house on the hill with my Christmas tree lit up. And I'm ready for the first good long night of sleep I've had in a long while. Woohoo! And then maybe I'll think about actually typing out one of the several posts that have been floating around in my brain for the past week or so. But for now, I'm just kind of excited to think about how much snow will be on the ground when I wake up!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas Car Game

Not too unlike the game the Barlows taught us called "yellow car," which can be played year 'round, our family has a car game that we play during the Christmas season. It doesn't really have a name, but the objective is to find Christmas-y cars. The standard find is, of course, a car with a Christmas tree on top of it for which a player receives one point. Two points would be given for a Christmas tree hanging out of a trunk or window (this is sort of outdated though, because who ever sees this anymore- if you did, it should be worth a lot more), and an extra point is given for each extra tree one might see on top of the same car (I saw two just the other day). And we award five points if you spot a car with a wreath on the front. These are very rare up here where license plates are required on the front and back of the car, but if I recall correctly, even in the South where (people generally do cuter things and) license plates are usually only required on the back, these are not incredibly common. This year we have had trouble with our points system though because we have seen a few things we've never seen before. Amabel saw an eighteen wheeler with a wreath and lights all over the front the other day- surely that merits more than the five points you get for a wreath. Or what about cars with reindeer antlers on both sides? Shouldn't they count for something? And, on the way through Illinois over Thanksgiving break, I spied more than one eighteen wheeler carrying a whole load of Christmas trees! That's got to be worth something too! We have played where points accrue throughout the season, and we have played where it starts over again after each time in the car, which I like better because I get really sick of arguing about how many points the person actually had before (so annoying); this would also keep people from being annoyed at points that were scored when he/she wasn't in the car (because, one might argue, "that's not fair"). Anyway, I just thought I'd share a fun holiday driving game. We certainly do enough of it (driving, that is).

Monday, December 07, 2009

An Interesting Find

I so don't understand why you hear the same twenty songs over and over and over and over again this time of year. There are so many good Christmas songs, but we have to hear "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland," and that awful "Feed the World" song (that's not actually what it's called. But you know, the one where Bono belts out "well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you!" What?!) without relief. Although I was late coming in on traditional American Christmas music, I thought that by now, I had heard, and could sing in my sleep, every Christmas song the light rock station turned Christmas station had to offer during this time of year. I distinctly remember the first time I heard the song "Let it Snow." It was during a Christmas chapel (chapel? "Let it Snow?") my Freshman year in high school. How did it take me so long to hear this song? It wasn't the only one that was new to me that Christmas. I knew the carols, even some of the less popular ones like "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus," "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly," and "Come on Ring Those Bells." Well, I have no idea if those are really less popular, but we don't sing them much, and they had significantly less Google results than any others that popped into mind. But the point is that I didn't know the "secular" Christmas stuff until much later- you know, because Jesus is the Reason for the Season. (And that's what my Christmas stocking said.) Still, by now, I know me some Christmas music. Because, as I said, it's the same songs again and again, with a sprinkling, from time to time, of something a little less overplayed. In the past few years, I have gotten to where I look forward to "It's a Marshmallow World." I have no idea why. I think it's funny or something. Anyway, today I heard a Christmas song I'd never heard before, not once, but twice! And it isn't really saying much to hear a Christmas song twice in one day since Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" alternates with John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" as the most annoying song played every half hour, but to have never heard the song in the first place, and then to hear it twice was just weird. Anyway, maybe I'm the only one who's never heard this, but just in case, here's the link to "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

This has been a pretty good birthday so far. Well, actually, I am in the process right now of canceling my birthday party for tonight because Elspeth has a fever. We hope to reschedule for next weekend though, which actually may work better for a few folks. I hope so because what am I going to do with all of these graham crackers and Hershey bars otherwise?

But it has been good anyway. I can never again say that I haven't ever been given a surprise party. My friend Marne and I went out for coffee on Tuesday night. She played it so cool that I even thought she may have forgotten our plans and emailed her Tuesday afternoon to see if we were still on. I went to pick her up and her kids were all still up and in need of care- it seemed like a totally normal night at anyone's house. We went to the coffee shop and ordered our drinks and went back to look for a table. And who was sitting at the table but five more of my favorite people, all there to celebrate my birthday before I had the chance to give myself a party this weekend! It was quite the surprise! My friend Annie made an amazing chocolate cake for us to share with our coffee, and everyone else bore some sort of other gift for me to take home- more chocolate, a super cute owl, and some home canned pumpkin pie filling (can't wait to try that!). I felt very loved. Additionally, gifts from my dear friends all over the country have been trickling in over the last couple of days, so I feel loved all the way from Nashville and New York City!

This morning I was greeted with lots of hugs and "happy birthday"s from my sweet children who colored me some really large, lovely birthday posters, and Sister Schubert cinnamon rolls. Does it get any better than that? When you add the Amy Grant Christmas album from 1983, it is pretty much as good as it gets! I grew up with that album, the one that opens with "Tennessee Christmas." George was good enough to get the CD for me for my birthday in spite of some very dated instrumentation. Who cares?! It's a classic! I also got a cozy pair of new pajamas. I haven't gotten any since I was pregnant with Elspeth, so I was due at least one new pair! These are festive and cozy without being exclusively "Christmas-y" which is good because one feels silly wearing ornaments and stockings in February!

I had set the rest of today aside for cooking and baking for the party, but it looks like that won't be necessary. The cleaning is done, the Christmas decorations are up (you're impressed, aren't you?!), so it looks like a pajama day with a good book is in order. I can totally get behind that. I just need to put some more coffee on. Hope y'all are having a happy day, whatever you are up to on this first Saturday of December- "the most wonderful time of the year."

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