Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Day

Christmas Day started off with opening stockings while we waited for the monkey bread to bake. We started with the youngest and watched as she opened her stocking and then took turns seeing what everyone got for each other.

After taking a breakfast break, we gathered back in the living room to open presents. We again took turns "playing Santa" and once the gifts were handed out, we'd take turns opening and watching what was opened. The girls were so excited to see what they had received and we had a good time together.

After we had opened presents and spent some time playing with new toys, we took a little break to get dressed and re-gathered at my house for dinner. It was fun to have a change of venue for our second half of the day and enjoyed hanging out together for the rest of the day.

Christmas Eve

Christmas 2014 is pretty much behind us, and tomorrow will be the first day of a new year! I think this Christmas will always hold special memories for us, since after this year, part of our family will live in another part of the world.

We had a fun time together on Christmas Eve morning, starting with breakfast together at my house, and then doing some cookie baking (some baked, some ate).

Erica started running a fever on Christmas Eve afternoon, so the Masseys stayed home from the Christmas Eve service. Since Daniel didn't get off work in time, Mom and I attended the service at Grace, and then joined the family for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese food.

And then we got into our pajamas and took turns filling each others' stockings. We finally got the girls into bed to hopefully fall asleep. It took one of them longer than the other, but eventually we were all nestled in our warm beds ( I bunked in the room with the girls).

After the girls were asleep, Jeanette and Russell quietly switched out the comforters on the girls' beds and put a new pillow on the foot of their beds for them to find on Christmas morning. About 4:30am, Erica woke me up and asked if she could go to the bathroom. I told her it was fine and she said, "What about flushing?" Mary Lane sat up in her bed and said, "Yeah, it might wake everybody up!"

Erica came back to bed and I was hoping that she wouldn't notice the different bedding. She sat up a few minutes later and said, "Oh! What's this? The comforter is different!" Mary Lane looked at her bed and said, "It's not black and white anymore!" And then she said, "It has hearts all over it and I love it! It reminds me of Mommy!"

I tried again to settle them down and held out hope that I could talk them into going back to sleep. After another five minutes, Erica noticed her new pillowcase, which was made from one of her paintings in art class. She was very excited about it and then saw that Mary Lane had a new pillowcase as well. 

"Look! You have new pillow, too, Mary Lane!"

"Oh! It's made out of my artwork, too!" (It wasn't, but it was an applique of the state of Tennessee, lovingly chosen for her).

By this time, I realized that all hope of going back to sleep was probably lost. Mary Lane asked if she could go tell her Mommy something and I told her she could. Mary Lane brought Jeanette back to our room, just telling her that she needed to show her something. When Jeanette came into the room, she didn't know we were all already awake, so I spoke up and the four of us piled into my bed to wait until the more "reasonable" hour of 6:00 before we got up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The music of Christmas

Christmas music is one of the key elements of this season for me and my family.

We sing:
My mom sings in the adult choir and the senior adult choir at First Baptist Church all year round, but it ramps up in December. She enjoys the challenge of learning the music and has a full schedule of rehearsals, in addition to the choir's participation in special worship services in December.

I also sing with the adult choir that we have at Grace Community Church for one Sunday of Advent (with a few rehearsals in the weeks leading up to it). Since we only have a choir at Christmas and Easter, it's a special treat for me to sing and be a part of the worship team.

Erica is on the far left on the front row

This year, Erica participated in children's choirs at both First Baptist and Grace. She loves to sing so she had fun learning the songs and when it came time to sing in the worship services, she sang her little heart out with a smile on her face. The first two times she sang happened on the same day (Grace in the morning and First Baptist in the evening). The third opportunity was last Sunday night and she sang with the children's choir at First Baptist during part of the concert by Steve Green. At one point, Steve asked the kids what their favorite class in school is. Erica raised her hand, along with several other kids, and when Steve called on her, she told him her favorite class is Music. Good answer, Erica!

And so I don't leave out little sister, I think she did her share of learning songs and singing along with Erica in the car throughout the month!

We go to concerts:
Not only do we go hear each other sing, we like to go listen to professional musicians during the Christmas season. One big highlight for the "grown-ups" is to go see the Behold the Lamb of God show, done by Andrew Peterson and friends at the Ryman Auditorium. The atmosphere is historical and makes a nice cozy venue. And the music, well it is epic! If you haven't attended this concert and live in Nashville, please put it on your calendar to get tickets next year. You will not be disappointed!
Outside of the Ryman after the show

I am also looking forward to going to Joy: An Irish Christmas concert next week featuring Keith and Kristyn Getty and their Irish band. It is held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall and is another great venue. I got to attend their show the first year they had it and it was another highlight of the season.

We listen:
I think it's safe to say that most of us in our family listen pretty exclusively to Christmas music during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can remember listening to the stacks of vinyl albums that my parents had when we were growing up, played on a turntable in the big stereo cabinet in the living room. As I got older, I bought my own cassettes and then CDs (and now buy digital songs), giving myself at least one new Christmas album each year. I stopped doing that after I had a huge stack of CDs, but this year I have indulged in some new digital songs (more than I am willing to admit to buying). Listening to Christmas music gets me in the Christmas spirit and helps me to keep my heart focused on Jesus during the hustle and bustle of the season. Of course I like the fun songs about snow falling and sleigh rides, too!

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs/experiences?