We now own a goldfish.
Every year my grandma has a family Christmas party and there’s usually a gift exchange of some sort with the adults. Some years it’s gag gifts, other years it’s white elephants. The nicest one is when it’s an ornament exchange. This year we were to bring a $5 “unique” gift. I was only at the party for an hour before I had to go play Amahl and the Night Visitors with my symphony so I took one $5 gift for DH to exchange. Every year without fail we come home with more gifts than we took. Any gift not wanted always seems to get pawned off on my children, who think any present is a good present.
This year we came home with at least three–a sock monkey, some Ghirardelli chocolates (can’t really complain about those though) and a goldfish, complete with bowl. It was definitely a unique gift, although I think the poor fish was quite traumatized for some time. It just sat in the bottom of its bowl for a very long time, but it is finally beginning to swim around more and it looks happier anyway.
Another highlight was the Utah Symphony children’s Christmas concert that Grandma and Poppa treat us to every year.
One of these days I’ll have to post all the photos we’ve taken in front of the Chihuly sculpture. It’s fun to see how they change from year to year.
On Christmas Eve, we baked cranberry orange bread for some of our neighbors and friends. Every year I say I’m going to bake earlier in the season, but somehow it always ends up being at the last minute. We made at least one of our neighbor’s day though as the boys also shovelled her sidewalks after Christmas Eve saw quite a heavy snowfall.
At 5:00 that night, in what turned out to be rather funny in a comedy of errors kind of way, I played my cello for the Methodist Church downtown. One of my symphony violinist friends is a member there and has asked me to come play with her in the Christmas Eve service a number of times. I knew things did not bode well when the very first song for the carol sing was in a different key from what was on my music stand. I looked at the music, heard the organist play the introduction, and somehow knew that what I was hearing was not the same as what I was looking at. Sure enough, it was in G Major, whereas the hymn in front of me was in F. It took me about 3 measures to reassure myself it was indeed still “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” figure out what key it was in, and then draw upon my years of playing and singing that particular hymn to play the bass part in the correct key while following along. And I couldn’t really see the screen where the lyrics were being projected, so I just had to guess as to how many verses there were going to be.
After three carols, we (the organist, violinist, and I) were to play “Coventry Carol” for a prelude. Before the organist can begin however, the lady (not sure of her title) stands up to welcome everyone to the service, then the pastor has everyone stand for the processional. But the organist starts playing “Coventry Carol” first, and then the processional. Finally everyone gets to sit down and the rest of the service went quite well. We played with the choir on two numbers, and Schubert’s “Ave Maria” with the organist. The final carol of “Silent Night” ends with the lights dimmed and candle light passed throughout the congregation. Then the organist begins the recessional, but the violinist doesn’t come in because she is in the dark and can’t see her music. I had a stand light, but since she didn’t come in, I didn’t either. The organist just keeps playing until finally someone turns on a light in the choir loft so we can both see to play as the organist begins the recessional again. It all works out and I get $125 for my efforts! Such is a musician’s life.
The service went about 30 minutes longer than I had anticipated and I did not get home until almost 7:30, but DH had saved dinner so we could all eat together. I was so glad. I remember a few years when I’ve been out performing and the boys have had dinner and possibly even bedtime without me. That’s not the way I’d like to have Christmas Eve, although I am very glad that I am able to help out other congregations with my musical talents. Although I must say that I’m not terribly thrilled that DH took the boys to Toys R Us to spend the birthday money burning holes in their pockets to keep their minds off not eating dinner. Something about spending money on yourself on Christmas Eve doesn’t sit right with me.
We ate dinner together and did our final Advent reading and candle lighting. With all five candles lit, A read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and we listened to the Tabernacle Choir sing “What Shall We Give to the Babe in the Manger” and then sang “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth” ourselves. It was a beautiful way to spend Christmas Eve evening together.
It was after nine o’clock then and the boys went right to sleep while DH and I finished up the last of our wrapping. We didn’t have much under the tree this year due to Grandma and Poppa keeping presents for us at their house and because of one huge gift we’re receiving soon that you’ll hear more about coming up. But the tree still looked festive and the boys were thrilled to open what presents there were on Christmas morning.
Yes, DH bought them practice swords.
Somehow I only got pictures of E opening presents. But here are A and E comparing their swords.
C and D putting new legos together. I’m not sure if those were ones they got, or ones they bought themselves.
We’re glad the snow stopped for a day anyway, so we could drive on clear roads to Grandma and Poppa’s house for dinner. After we ate, we exchanged presents and had more fun things to play with. Later on in the afternoon I was about to suggest a trip to the cemetery when E threw up all over the two of us. Luckily Grandma had a spare pair of pajamas E could put on and found some of her clothes that I could borrow while we began a load of laundry and sat down to play another board game or three. I keep thinking it’s safe to leave the house without changes of clothing for anyone, but apparently not.
On our way back home, I made DH stop by the cemetery anyway because I wanted to see the new wreaths my parents bought for my brothers’ and sisters’ graves. So picture me tromping through the snow in my boots in the dark with DH’s flashlight so I could see the wreaths on the graves, in the freezing cold, while everybody else waited in the warm car. DH did get out though to come take pictures which didn’t really turn out at all, but we tried.
All in all, we had a lovely holiday and were grateful for the snow that fell for the next four days or so and the chance to slow down a bit.