Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

The family: Drew, Caleb, Ricci, Anna, Carrie, Bennett, Jane, Isaac, and me.

Well now that it's Boxing Day I guess that means Christmas is over for 2016. We had a nice one this year. Isaac and Ricci and their dogs (Crosby & Tig) were here from Thursday night through Sunday morning, and the Feipel's were over much of the time as well. It was nice having the whole family in our house for a few days. It was also nice that Jane and I had Thursday-Sunday off work together. She had to go back today, but I have one more day off (though none of mine were paid time off).

As is one of our main family traits, we did not do a whole lot activity-wise. Probably taking the dogs out for potty breaks and playing with the kids was about as much as we did. I think Carrie and Ricci went to Costco one day. We all went to a Christmas Eve service together Saturday night, and Sunday we all went to Drew Carrie's for breakfast. Isaac & Ricci left Sunday morning and then the Feipel Five went to church with us since their church was not having services on Christmas day.

I don't remember much about Friday. I guess Anna and Bennett spent the night with us. Saturday we all hung out and had our big meal in the early afternoon. We had salad and lasagna and it was grand as usual. Then we opened presents mid-afternoon. We've kind of gotten into the habit of opening presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.

I got a box of nice chocolates from the Feipels and Jane got me two books: 'Haiku-The Sacred Art', and 'Faithful Presence'. Hopefully I will get around to reading them sometime. I got Jane her usual Ansel Adams calendar, and a bracelet with a runner on it from Fleet Feet. I also made her this wine rack out of a pallet. On the side is a hook for the corkscrew made out of a bent key.

Jane's wine rack - with glasses holder and corkscrew hook.

Saturday night (Christmas Eve) we all went to church at St. Paul's Lutheran. Anna goes to school there and all the kids from school were part of the Christmas Eve service. It was the first time I'd ever been inside one of those big downtown churches. It was also the first time I remember attending a seriously traditional/liturgical worship service. Both were kind of neat, though I'm not sure I could do it on a regular basis.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church

The church building was just completely beautiful - inside and out. The main sanctuary (I guess it's called) was huge with tall ceilings and ornate woodworking, painting, and stained glass all about. We sat in the balcony and I was in awe for a good little while. I also kind of liked the service how spoken words were sung rather than just said. I don't know how any of that works but it was kind of cool.

About half way through the hour-long service everything changed though. What first appeared to be a bird flying around turned out to be a bat! It swooped from side to side and up and down and all around. I'd say it was almost impossible not to notice. It flew around for quite awhile. For a time that's all anyone was looking at. I was surprised no one freaked out and started screaming. Apparently they told the children it was a bird, because the granddaughter insisted that's what it was. :)

Speaking of children, I liked that they didn't have a Christmas "program," but all the kids of the school were rather just a part of the regular service. That kept it from being a "cutesy" thing and included them as part of the whole. Anna sat in the balcony on the other side from us with K-5 kids. It still blows my mind that she sat over there all by herself with classmates instead of her parents or us.

Well, after the service we went to Drew Carrie's house - even though Drew wasn't there because he went to his family's gathering. We didn't plan things to well because Carrie didn't have any food at her house and we couldn't go back to our house because of the dogs, but we needed to be at Carrie's so the kids could go to bed, so.... we ended up having McDonald's for our Christmas Eve meal! It was literally almost the only thing opened, and they actually closed while we were there. They had to unlock the door for us after our food was done and we took it to Carrie's to eat.

Sunday morning we got up and headed to the Feipel's around 8:30. The little kids had opened their presents and were playing with them. The grownups drank coffee and ate Carrie's cinnamon rolls and tried to keep the dogs and kids and toys and cat all in some semblance of order. Isaac and Ricci then had to leave around 10 to go to her mom's house. The rest of us then went to C2G for church at 10:30. The grandkids love going to church there - probably because pretty much anything goes and it's very non-threatening. Carrie has been there with us a couple times. I think it may have been Drew's first time. There were actually more people than I anticipated, though not as many as most Sundays (although it's pretty hit and miss on a regular basis). Anyway, we sang Christmas Carols and it was a fairly "normal" service.

After church we had leftovers for lunch at our house, then the Feipels left to have Christmas with my parents in Illinois. We were not able to go but are hoping to next weekend. Just another "loser" notch in my cap, you know. So, we napped Christmas afternoon (or at least I did). We re-watched a Christmas movie, then Jane and I went to the theater and saw "Manchester By the Sea" for a late-afternoon cinema. I will likely try to write a separate post about that because I found it quite moving (though I'm not sure if I would recommend it or not).

And... that's pretty much how our 2016 Christmas went. The weather was good - in the mid-30's most of the time. The ground was still covered with snow but there was really no snow or ice or anything while the kids were here. Today is an unseasonably warm near-60 degree day. All the snow is now melting and it's supposed to rain.

All in all it was a good Christmas. It was a too-short visit with the Atlanta bunch (though I'm glad they brought the dogs). Jane had a couple asthma flare-ups but managed to avoid going to the hospital (I guess I kind of forgot her having to use Caleb's nebulizer machine Saturday for breathing treatments). The grandkids are at a fun age. Nothing really got broken and drama was minimal. I'd say it wasn't perfect, but was a pretty darn good success. I'll take it.

Crosby and Tig taking a break.