Our festive holiday events began on December 16th, when Samantha helped me choose our Christmas tree and bring it home, and then Marcus helped us decorate it. General festivities continued the next day when Samantha got to celebrate her birthday at "Baby School" by choosing the color (yellow) on her birthday banner and choosing the morning cooking project and snack (zucchini muffins).
That night we went to Marcus's orchestra concert, with a potluck dinner afterward in the cafeteria.
The next day, Thursday, I picked up Marcus from school and we walked over to the church to help Sarah with her Thursday night outreach group; we set tables for the holiday dinner they'd serve to 120 people a little later, and then, with the help of Basil (vocals) and my father (mandolin), we sang Christmas carols to the people waiting in line outside the church until it was time for them to come in and have dinner.
The day after that, Friday the 19th, Marcus got to open some Pokemon cards as an early Christmas present from cousin Helene, and then we all rushed off to the school for his holiday show that morning. Samantha and I went, getting perhaps the last available seat thanks to the mom of an old karate/JP friend, whose younger son is now in K0 at the school. She sat in the aisle on my right, and to my left were the parents of another first grader who lives in the piano factory building literally right behind ours (we can wave to him on his roofdeck from ours), while behind me was my friend from work who lives just a few blocks away and whose son is in second grade. It was a very companionable cluster of parents to watch with, but Samantha was blind to the audience, instead focusing on every note and step of the show, from the first group of mixed-age kids singing "Let it Go" with the video on behind them, to the K0/K1 kids singing "O Candy Cane" to the tune of "O Christmas Tree," to the fifth graders who did breakdancing and cartwheels, to Marcus's class (joined by another first grade class), who danced.
From there, we went home to finish baking challah for Sarah's Chanukah party later that night. Apparently Marcus's teacher taught them the dreidel game, and they practiced everyday (getting to keep and eat their gelt, of course). This led to two rather predictable results: first, the teacher asked if anyone celebrated Chanukah or knew anyone who did, and Marcus raised his hand. "I celebrate Chanukah," he said proudly. It's true--we do. The second predictable result? At said Chanukah party, there was a lot of "Mr. Kelley says. . . ." as Marcus quibbled about dreidel rules with Sarah. Garrison and Marcus got "I [Star of David] Chanukah" shirts to match Sarah and Sean's own, while the younger kids got matching Chanukah pajamas, and everyone had a great evening. With absolutely no ironic intent, Samantha wore her Chanukah pjs the next night, too, for an extended playing session with her Playmobil Christmas market set, which we've been doling out like an Advent calendar, one piece a day since the beginning of December.
The Saturday before Christmas we had an early Shabu Zen lunch, followed by Kofroyo down the street, with Basil (in town from Minnesota for the holidays) and his friend Elaine. When Basil went home to change out of his running clothes and move on to the next set of friends on his must-see list, we took the T to Copley and walked over to the Back Bay Events Center to see the Urban Nutcracker. Samantha slept through the entire first act, waking up midway through the final scene right before intermission, but she was rapt for the parts she was awake for. The show used elements of ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop dance. Marcus loved the hip-hop guys best, and Samantha's personal favorite was the candy-cane fairy scene with hula hoops.
On Sunday, we went to Robert's father's house in Allston to see Aunt Tia, Uncle Mike, cousin Yasmine, Aunt Amanda, and cousin Katy, who had all arrived either late the night before or early that morning. The kids made a gingerbread house together, and we got take-out from El Pelon for a late lunch.
On Tuesday everyone came over to our house for dinner. Samantha helped me make a wreath and Christmas tree crudites for the appetizers. Marcus played chess, charades, pictionary, and hangman with anyone interested.
At the end of the evening, Samantha put Katy's shoes on for her.
Wednesday, Christmas Eve, Amanda, Katy, and Mike came to church with us. Marcus and Samantha played with Ezra and Levi in the pew during the service, sharing writing tablets and stickers, and all the kids mobbed the dais at the offertory, putting mittens and hats they'd brought on a tall Christmas tree, to be donated to a children's charity. They loved the live Holy Family, and the slides about what Hebrew homes looked like at the time Jesus was born, and we loved realizing that within two weeks we would actually be in Bethlehem ourselves.
Back at Richard's house that evening, we had a lovely ham dinner, and then exchanged some presents, since Amanda and Katy had to leave very early Christmas morning. On Christmas we split our time, half the day with Richard, Bree, Tia, Mike, and Yasmine, and half the day with Grandma, Pop-pop, and Aunt Mary.
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Created: 12/25/14. Last Modified: 12/25/14.