Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charlie's First Christmas

I absolutely love being a mom on Christmas! Charlie’s first Christmas was wonderful, and our worries that we may get snowed in came to nothing.

On Christmas Eve evening, the three of us drove about an hour down to Daniel’s uncle’s house for his traditional family party. Charlie hadn’t met any of the extended family on Daniel’s side yet, so that combined with being in a place he had never seen meant that he had a lot to take in. He seemed to enjoy himself, except when he wasn’t allowed to eat the paper from the gifts he unwrapped (a trend which would continue the next day).

We didn’t get home and put Charlie to bed until 10:30, but he had slept an hour in the car so it wasn’t too terrible. He was exhausted, though, and pretty cranky. Once he was in bed, Daniel and I finished cleaning up from the cookies we had been baking earlier that day and I prepared a stuffed French toast casserole for brunch at my parents’ the next day. Christmas morning we came out to the living room around 7:30 to make breakfast (cinnamon rolls!) and open our gifts. After a couple of packages that we let Charlie open, we opened the rest of his for him. He was just getting much too upset about not being allowed to eat the wrapping paper when he did it himself.

After a leisurely morning with my little family, it was time to get ready for church. We left around 10:00 to drop the casserole off at my parents’ house before 11:00 mass. It had been years since the last time I went to mass on Christmas morning rather than the night before, so I was expecting getting there a half hour early to be necessary—I was wrong. But it was nice to get a good seat and pray for a while before the liturgy began, something I almost never have time to do anymore since Charlie was born. And I really enjoyed the feel of Christmas day mass, and how it focused our day on the holy day and not just the holiday. I think we’ll do it next year, too.

Brunch and gifts at my parents’ house came next, and we spent the rest of the day over there and joined them for dinner as well before coming home to put Charlie to bed. Daniel and I watched a movie—Eclipse of the Twilight saga if you must know (my sister Rose got it for Christmas and let us borrow it). Not exactly Christmas-y, but enjoyable nonetheless!

The day after Christmas was Sunday mass, then back to my parents’ again for a get-together with my mom’s side of the family and more delicious food. Then home again. And there you have a play-by-play of our family’s Christmas festivities.

I also got some wonderful news on Christmas—Laura, my best friend from high school whom I have certainly mentioned here before, is engaged! Her now-fiancĂ© proposed to her on Christmas morning, and Laura asked me to be her maid of honor. I just realized today that I should have told her “no,” though, but that I would be her matron of honor… because that’s just the kind of silly joke that I would make. I can’t believe I missed the opportunity. Anyway, I am so extremely excited for Laura and can’t wait to help with her wedding plans!

And so, another new year is about to begin, the third that I will have come to during my blogging experience here, my second of married life, and Charlie’s first ever (not counting when he was in the womb, of course). I am so excited for all that God has in store for my family’s 2011. Seriously, I’m really starting to look forward to Charlie’s first birthday, which isn’t for another five and a half months.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"For lo! The days are hastening on"

There is less than a week until Christmas, and as I’m sure is the case for many of you, I still have so much to do! All of it is fun stuff, though, at least mostly. This afternoon I will be sewing Charlie’s stocking at my mom’s house, after picking up Christmas cards from Costco. My sister Marie came over yesterday to take our Christmas photos in front of our tree, and we chose a good one and ordered the cards last night. My sister Rose (12th grade) has a band and chorus concert that I’m going to at the high school tonight.

Tomorrow I will be addressing envelopes and hopefully getting them to the post office by the last mail pickup, although we’re going to try and hand them personally to as many of the people on our list as possible to save on postage. Tomorrow night I will be going to another band concert, this one for my sister Annie (7th grade).

Wednesday is my sister Jane's sixteenth birthday, so Daniel, Charlie and I will be going over to my parents' for dinner and dessert. During the day on Wednesday would, I suppose, be a good time for wrapping some presents. Christmas cookies are a good project for Wednesday, too.

And I think that about covers the remaining preparations for Christmas, physically speaking, anyway. There is no end to spiritual preparation, because there's always more that can be done. Of course, that's what we really should be focusing on anyway. Sunday's homily at tour church was about learning to cultivate a sense of longing for God this week, like the Jewish people longed for the coming of the foretold Messiah.

"In our culture," the deacon who gave the homily said, "we don't do longing very well." We're used to instant gratification for the things we want; and the last week of Advent is so often spent rushing around and getting a million things finished before the holiday that the days fly by and we don't have time for any longing. Children, perhaps, understand longing a little better than adults do... even if what they 're longing for is the presents beneath the tree waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas morning, and not so much for our God's coming in glory. So, this week, I'm going to try to make some time for longing.

I was reading an old Christmas carol book this morning that includes some of the less well-known verses of a lot of Christmas songs, and I was struck by the apocalyptic nature of the last two verses of Edmund Sears' "It Came upon the Midnight Clear," which resonates with the past couple Sundays' readings from Isaiah. I will share the lyrics of the entire carol to the end. I wish all of you a very merry Christmas, from Daniel, Charlie, and me!

"It Came upon the Midnight Clear"

Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876

It came upon the midnight clear,

That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth

To touch their harps of gold;

"Peace on the earth, good will to men

From heaven's all gracious King."

The world in solemn stillness lay

To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,

With peaceful wings unfurled,

And still their heavenly music floats

O'er all the weary world;

Above its sad and lonely plains

They bend hovering wing,

And ever o'er its Babel sounds

The blessed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the heav'nly hymn have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

And warring humankind hears not

The tidings which they bring;

O hush the noise and cease your strife

And hear the angels sing!

For lo! The days are hastening on,

By prophets seen of old,

When with the ever circling years,

Shall come the time foretold,

When peace shall over all the earth

Its ancient splendors fling,

And the whole world send back the song

Which now the angels sing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Life

Real inspired title, right? I’m really struggling with a somewhat creative theme for this blog entry… I even fell asleep last night trying to think of something, and I feel like I thought of something but didn’t get up to write it down. Now, it’s gone. Maybe it was chased away when I was awake from 12:30 to 2:00 this morning with Charlie, who was having trouble breathing through a stuffy nose. That was the first time I’ve used the baby saline drops and nasal aspirator, so I had a fun time figuring out how to use them when I was half asleep. Poor baby! He was such a good boy, though, and didn’t even cry.

Time is really flying, isn’t it? Charlie will be six months old next week—a whole half a year! He’s growing so fast. We started him on solids about a week ago, and by day two he really seemed to like that rice cereal. We have yet to any fruit or veggie to it, but that ought to be fun. Teaching a baby to eat from a spoon is messy business! Charlie is also doing a really good job of learning to sit up on his own, although we still need to be nearby for the inevitable eventual topple-over.

And last Sunday, when we were eating dinner over at my parents’ house after the Redskins game, Charlie’s Aunt Marie was waving at him across the table and he waved back! A real grown-up, side to side kind of wave, too! It was adorable. Those next few days, I kept catching him practicing waving while he was lying on his back. So funny!

As we get ready to light the pink candle (already!) on the Advent wreath this Sunday, I’m reminded of how long this season seemed to last when I was a kid. As I would wait for Christmas with such eager anticipation, the days and weeks leading up to it would just drag by. I guess that’s because kids don’t have anything to do to prepare for Christmas. For adults there is shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, family photo taking, Christmas card sending, tree choosing, decorating, and party planning, etc. This year I finished all my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, which is a wonderful feeling, but there is still plenty that needs to be done.

We are getting our Christmas tree this weekend, and then hopefully taking family pictures in front of it for our Christmas cards. We also plan to go to have professional portraits taken of Charlie before the end of the year—I’m so excited for those!

Newsflash: it’s snowing! And more than just flurries, and sticking to the deck and the roads and everywhere! I really want to show Charlie, but he’s napping right now. Hopefully it keeps up long enough for him to see. I would love to see his reaction!

That’s all for now. Good luck with all those Christmas preparations, everyone!