Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Miracles

Christmas Miracle #1: Nutmeg, her DH, and their children (the "Grands") made it through the snowy roads up from Dallas to join us on Thursday evening for a cup of hot chocolate and some cookies before crashing into bed.

Christmas Miracle #2: Portia and her LH made it through the snowy roads from Las Vegas to join us very late on Thursday night for "a drink." I don't know the details--I turned in as soon as I got my hugs from the couple I haven't seen since last Christmas!

Christmas Miracle #3: Although his early Friday morning flight was cancelled due to the weather in Denver, Colin's sweet-talkin' smiles--Carolina style!--got him a confirmed seat on a flight that arrives this evening into Denver. He wouldn't pass up the chance to meet the entire family, all at once!

So a Blessed Fourth Sunday of Advent, and a Happy Christmas Eve to us all!

It's sort of a schizophrenic day as far as the Liturgical Season goes. This was reflected in the music at our little mountain chapel this morning, too. We started with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" as the entrance hymn, and for the recessional, sang "O Holy Child of Bethlehem." As our celebrant said, for many of those who are going to the Christmas Vigil, today is a "two-fer."

There is a lot of busy activity here in the house; Christmas Eve is winning out as the day's title. The special Polish Christmas Eve dinner, Vigilia, must be ready to go when the first star is seen in the sky! (Or, in other words, when Nutmeg, her DH, and the "Grands" get home from the 5:30pm Vigil Mass)! There were also breakfast casseroles to be prepped for tomorrow morning's post-present-opening hunger stampede.

So it's a busy, but also a waiting, sort of day. The "Grands" wander in and out of the kitchen looking for a glass of juice, a piece of cheese, a mitten for snowboarding, or permission to play on the computer. The fireplace is swept out and ready for another late afternoon fire. Nutmeg helps Mom brainstorm the logistics of the meal service.
Portia and her LH made an eggbake, then slipped out to see a dear friend in town. Unfortunately, dear brother is working and won't be coming up until after 9:30pm. He will have a late Vigilia, but Colin and I will join him when we arrive from Denver.

Christmas Miracle #4: Everyone will be here for Christmas dinner tomorrow night, for the first time in 4 years.

God bless us, everyone.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tree Angel!

Due to the number of questions posed on family members' blogs regarding whether or not we actually have a tree topper, Dad went out and bought a new one!
So now, there is a glowing angel at the top of our beautiful Christmas tree:

See, good thing we have these blog things.... What a great avenue of communication!

Friday, December 15, 2006

No more work:

I keep trying to convince Mom that cooking and baking all day for Christmas is fun, not work.

She and I started with pierogi's at 8:30am. When we had stopped for lunch, we had made the cheese pierogi's, cheese and potato pierogi's, blueberry pierogi's, prune pierogi's, and most of the cabbage pierogi's. After lunch, we finished up the cabbage pierogi's and started in on the baking.

By 4:15pm, we had successfully finished and stored away:
Rum balls
Snow moons
Peanut butter bon bons
Cow pies
Gingerbread cookie dough

On the list for tomorrow's baking agenda:
Gingerbread men (with the dough made today)
Oatmeal craisin chip cookies
Brownies with chocolate mint frosting

Off to check out the brother's new digs this evening.

It's so good to be home!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Peppermint Meme

I have been tagged! Since I'm still under the roof of the parentals, these questions will be answered accordingly. In other words, no surprises for most of my readers, who are related to me and have the same childhood experiences!

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Hot Chocolate--and make sure there's a candy cane in it! If no candy canes are available, a mint teabag also works well.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa wraps and puts the presents under the tree. He does this when we're all asleep, after an joyous but exhausting night of consuming the large Vigilia meal, staying up for Midnight Mass, staying up during Midnight Mass, then crawling into bed.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White icicle lights on the house, around the Nativity scene, and along the banister. We've done colored lights on the tree before, but I think we're doing white more consistently now.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but plenty of holly and evergreen.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
We start putting decorations out after Thanksgiving. The Christmas tree is sometimes up before everyone gets home from college, etc, but it's still usually one of the later decorations, to allow for maximum family involvement!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I love the pierogi course! But I also love the Christmas breakfast food--the special puff pastry that Mom makes is so yummy. I also love the ham at dinner... gee whiz, everything tastes good when it's eaten with family at Christmas!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Getting up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to go to the bathroom when we were living in Gorham, and from the kitchen doorway near the stairs, seeing the Christmas tree lights peaking out of the living room. I have a distinct memory of seeing them twinkling, and feeling the magic of that night.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I heard that there wasn't a Santa, and asked Dad about it. He told me that Santa was not the one who came and left gifts Christmas Eve night, but that the "spirit of Santa" was real. I thought that was a lame answer at the time--I think I was about 9 years old--but now I understand St. Nicholas and the rest of the tradition...!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We used to open up our gift from Mom, when she would make us Christmas pajamas to wear that night. Now she makes us other beautiful things, and we open everything Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree
After the lights, we hang lots of beautiful ornaments, lots of child-crafted ornaments, lots of cultural collectibles. Then we put on the garland (used to do tinsel, but those days are over), hang the candy canes, and then the icicles go on last, on the tips of the tree.

11. Snow? Love it or Dread it?
Love snow, especially if we don't have to travel, and there's a fire in the fireplace!

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes. Also love that.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I love every gift I've received, except for the occasional itchy sweater. My favorites are the homemade gifts. Mom always gives at least one or two of those and they are so seical, because there is so much love knitted, sewn, or distilled (!!) into them! I think one of the best was the huge southwestern-themed poncho she made Portia and I one year for our "Pit adventures!"

14. What's the most exciting thing about the Holidays for you?
Going home--and having other members of the family come home. If not everyone is going to be home, the next best exciting thing about the holidays is ski-time!

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
The Polish cookies that I don't know how to spell, the peanut butter bon bons, the rum balls, and the mint-frosted brownies. I don't have one favorite...!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The Polish Christmas Eve Dinner, Vigilia.

17. What tops your tree?
An angel. Unless she broke again... (?) Sometimes our tree is too tall to have an actual topper.

18. Which do you prefer - giving or receiving?
Giving--it's so much fun to watch people opening gifts that I've spent time and love picking out or, in some cases, making for them.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, and The First Noel

20. Candy canes?
Yessss... especially in Hot Chocolate!

I hereby "tag" Tim and KT.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Advent!

The tree this year is from Ridgefield, Connecticut :) .
I met Rosa at 5:30pm Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and we walked around admiring New York City's festive light display.
After a warm dinner in a cozy Irish pub, we took the train together back up to Connecticut-land. It put me in the "preparation" spirit of Advent!