Holidays 2017

Leading up to the holidays, Helen's daycare decorated the door to her room. Look at our cute baby reinder [sic]!

Meanwhile, the orchestra had a Christmas tree sale and we bought a tree and carried it home on the subway. We kept it standing in the front yard for a week as the weekend of the tree sale was busy, but it was perfectly fresh and fragrant when we did bring it in to trim it.

We had a family from church/school with three kids come over for dinner and a tree-decorating night. Well, actually Samantha and their seven-year-old decorated the tree, while Marcus and their nine-year-old played an iPad math game together. The medium girls were even excited about vacuuming up extra needles from the tree. They also loved the fold-out bed in Samantha's room and made numerous arguments for having a sleepover, so as not to have to say goodbye that night.

The next week, the library had a potluck Christmas party, where Samantha made a pinecone elf, and where we all listened to a typewriter orchestra playing everything from "We are the World" to "Wite-Out" to other nouveau classics.

Then it was Chanukah. Samantha made coffee filter ornaments ahead of time, and we had 30 or so people there and a wild and crazy dreidel game (one round for kids, another for adults) and a tower of donuts topped with chocolate sauce on them, as well as Chanukah-decorated cake pops.


On the first day of school vacation for the winter break, we went downtown and checked out the gingerbread houses at the BSA space near South Station.

From there we went to the Children's Museum, and then walked along the water past the new playground (under construction) and James Hook, over to State Street Provisions for a late lunch/early dinner.

The following day, the Saturday before Christmas, I surprised Robert with tickets to see "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" for the four of us, and a pre-arranged babysitting date for my parents and Helen. What a movie! I think it's possibly the best Star Wars ever, and Samantha had our next year's Halloween costumes planned by the time we left the theatre. It was exactly the Star Wars the world needed now--in the 70s we needed a tale of individualism triumphing over the Iron Curtain, but now we needed to see the refugees, slaves, people of color, people without wealth rising up against the casino and hotel owners, the titans of industry, the large corporations. Ah, Star Wars--we love you!

Holidays involve food prep. Samantha made pita chips, cutting them into trapezoids, equilateral triangles, and right triangles, announcing each shape as she cut it. I made beet-carrot latkes for Chanukah--which most people did not appreciate, not being beet-lovers--and which Robert teased looked exactly like ground beef patties in the frying pan.

On Christmas Eve we went to the Aquarium and saw the sea lions and Myrtle the Turtle and the penguins and the touch tank. Helen had a ball!

From there we walked over to church and then to dinner with Sarah and Sean and Evie and her parents at Double Chin in Chinatown, for scallion pancake pizzas, mapo tofu nachoes, chow fun mac and cheese, steak frites with duck and hoisin sauce, kimchi poutine, and a giant cube toast with ice cream and chocolate sauce and sweetened condensed milk for dessert.

On Christmas Day Robert's father and Bri came over for breakfast and then we went to my parents' house for dinner along with Bob.

On the 26th we went to the Museum of Fine Arts for their school vacation week art programs. The kids made collages of foods they'd like to eat at New Year's, kites for the Japanese New Year, and little Japanese daruma dolls out of clay, which we can paint when they're dry. The idea is to paint all but one eye on them, and keep in mind a goal every time you see that unpainted eye. When you finally accomplish your goal, at some point later in the year, you can paint the second eye. We also made hawk masks for the Egyptian sun God at the New Year, and had a lot of fun in the Murakami exhibit. Lunch was at the Laughing Monk, for amazing nigirizushi and Thai noodles and satay and pork belly skewers.

On the 27th we went to the Boston Public Market for a truffle-making class from Taza Chocolates. Gingerbread sugar, raspberry sugar, graham cracker crumbs, toasted coconut, and crushed-up candy canes all made great toppings, and then we had lunch in the public market and headed home to play in a snowy playground and make our own gingerbread house.

All of Christmas week, we enjoyed the lingering snow, though the cold weather put a bit of a damper on outdoor fun.

Samantha likes to write and draw about her days, and also about things she learns.

Our week was filled with music practice, some lazy sleeping-late mornings, and two family movie nights ("The Lion King" and "Paddington").

Helen played and amused herself around the house:

Samantha lost yet another tooth, so on the Friday before New Year's, after she got back from her drama class at Wheelock Family Theatre, we bastardized the Nepalese tradition described to us by Robert's friend Raj and stuck it in a snowball (sorry, cow dung--snow was simply more accessible) and threw it over our house while calling to the mice to bring her sharper stronger teeth in its place.

The Saturday before New Year's Samantha had a Girl Scout holiday party in the morning, and then we went with Richard and Bri to the Boston Pops for their "Bugs Bunny" concert and cartoons, and then out to dinner at Five Horses.

On New Year's Day we had some friends over--we were a total of six couples and eleven kids. Some people arrived at 1:30 and others stayed until 7:30, and in the middle there were board games (Settlers of Catan in the basement, with Jef, Jayden, Jaina, and Marcus), great conversation, lots of food, and a doll birthday party.

Samantha had been telling me for months that January 1st was her doll Mary's birthday party. I had nodded vaguely, until her plans became increasingly elaborate--she was going to make a birthday banner for Mary and hang it on our front door; she was going to make a birthday crown for Mary in Mary's favorite colors; Mary was turning two, so we could use the old number two candle left in a drawer from her own second birthday and sing "Happy Birthday" to Mary, and Samantha would "help" her blow out the candle. At some point in the week between Christmas and New Year's, I just decided to go with it, and I invited people over for Mary's birthday party. "Mary" even got a small present, a dinosaur sticker game from Valentina, Israel, and Andrei ("Mary LOVES stickers," Samantha said. "Too bad she needed me to help her open it!"). What's a birthday party without activities? We had two crafts--make-your-own doll frappucinos (plastic shot glasses, silicone caulk, and puff paint), and make-your-own no-sew doll sleeping bags (fleece; Grandma and Pop-pop scavenged through their own fabric scrap pile and also drove to three different craft/fabric stores the day before New Year's Eve for supplies)--and also, of course, party favors (birthday cake-scented bath bombs left over from Sarah's shower).

Here Samantha and Aria prepare food for Mary:

Rowena ceremoniously puts a lei around Mary's head (note the crown) at the party:

Here Rowena and Rose, and Marcus and I, work on doll drinks.

Finished crafts (drink modeled next to a nameless doll sometimes known as "Big Hard Baby" to show scale; sleeping bag, of course, modeled by Mary herself):

Birthday cake (Ottolenghi's banana-date-tahini cake with tahini cream cheese frosting):

Everyone had a great day, and it was a fun way to spend New Year's Day. Happy new year! (And happy birthday, Mary!)


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Created: 1/3/18. Last Modified: 1/3/18.