I think we got it right this year: no deadline gift knitting, no hustling and bustling in busy shops, and no slaving over a hot stove to feed a crowd. Instead, I only committed to knit a Christmas sweater for Julian (oh, and some ornaments), did all my shopping online and invited my family to each bring a course for our easy peasy comfort food feast - lasagna with all the trimmings!
And it was marvelous ;0)
We went to grandma and grandpa's house for Christmas eve and went to the 7 o'clock mass together. The mass was beautiful and moving as usual. It follows pretty much the same format every year. The same readings. The same songs. The same people. And it is wonderful! I really do look forward to it all year. It is the highlight of the season for me and it never disappoints.
My favourite moment is the very beginning when the lights are dimmed and the youth choir process carrying candles and singing O come all ye faithful. That's where the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up because of how amazing it is that after more than two thousand years, that is exactly what we are doing by going to Church on Christmas eve to hear the good news and to celebrate receiving the promise. It gets to me every time.
Later, the choir sings Silent Night and then continue to hum it while our priest reads the nativity story. When the reading is over, the choir keeps humming the tune (though louder now) while signing the lyrics instead of singing them. It is so beautiful, and fitting.
After church, it was back to Grandma and Grandpa's house to revel in sweets and hot cocoa and exchange gifts. Our Jubilee Bubille was so well behaved despite the late hour and all the excitement. He didn't know what he was in for and his innocence was just so sweet - for instance, we've had the gifts wrapped under our tree at home for weeks, and he never tried to tear the wrapping. He would be content to look at them and point out the Santa and Snowmen gift cards. I think it's because he didn't realise that there was something inside them!
So when we presented him with his first present to open, he didn't quite know what to do with it. Naturally, we helped him get it started by tearing off a piece of paper... Then, in a moment of true hilarity (which ensued throughout the evening) he took the little piece of paper, exclaimed "garba" and off to the kitchen he went to throw it out before coming back to the living room to tear off another tiny piece. It was too funny! And he did go back and forth to the kitchen to throw out pieces of paper as he tore them off. It was really cute. Though it's no wonder we didn't get back home until well past 1am ;0)
Then yesterday morning, dada, Julian and I headed downstairs for cinnamon buns and white hot chocolate and to open the presents we got each other. And of course Julian! We got him a Tickle Me Elmo. He recognised the Elmo on the box and was pretty stoked about it. He even hugged it when we first pulled it out of the box, but as soon as it got started, he got really scared and ran to dada's arms for protection. Though in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that it freaked me out a bit too. I think the batteries it came with might have been a little drained and he had a really low voice and moved really jerkily about the floor...I kept getting visions of Chucky...
It was soooo not a hit. We turned it off and put in under the tree while we turned his attention to some of the other toys he got the night before and he was okay, but everytime he sees it, he remembers how scary it is and steers away. Today while Stephen was changing his diaper, Julian put his hands over his ears and said "loud". We couldn't figure out what was loud, nothing was on and it was quiet all around. He repeated "Elmo, loud" and we were stunned. I think the poor thing was traumatised! Elmo wasn't even on or around when he said that. I guess he was just remembering it. Poor Jujube!
Finally, we hosted Christmas dinner at our house but this year all I did was assemble an anti-pasti platter and bake desert (a cheese cake pear almond torte and a one and a half birthday cake for Julian who turned 18 months on Christmas day. Everyone else brought the rest of the meal: lasagna, salad, garlic bread... It was great! We're soooo doing that again next year.
Julian's half birthday cake was a towering success again this year. Since it's his half birthday, I made half a cake. Actually, I made a two-layer cake, cut it in half and made a slightly leaning 4-layer half cake and bejewelled it with Jujubes. Then we all sang Happy [blank]. It was crazy fun and Julian loved it. He hadn't had cake since his actual birthday and he made up for it big time! We had to hose him off again ;0)
And now it's time to play with all our new toys and enjoy having everyone home for the next few weeks. Plus, did I mention we got to keep all the leftovers? Yup, we had a really wonderful Christmas ;0)
I'll have to tell you about Julian's Christmas sweater and my super cool knitting gifts next time...