Originally posted to Chez VH, January 5, 2011
Here, at long last, is a picture of our Christmas tree - a 10 foot tall artificial tree that we saved from the dumpster at church. Well, it didn't *quite* make it to the dumpster, but it was about 10 minutes from getting there). I think it turned out rather nice and wow - it really makes the room look good.
Speaking of the room looking good, we had a really ugly old sectional in this room for years and I was really fed up with it. Two days before Christmas, John and I decided to head to the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to see if we could find something a little better. We found two couches with relatively coordinating plaids (shown in the picture) of a rather high quality AND all the furniture was 50% off, so we got the two for about $50. Yippee!!!
One more funny thing happened with that St. Vinnie's trip. I was talking to John about Christmas presents on the way there and mentioned that I thought we needed a little something more for Frank. I even mentioned that Frank had told me he really wanted a Nutcracker but had forgotten to put it on his wish list. Well, in the store, right on top of one of the pieces of furniture where we were browsing was a huge, beautiful Nutcracker! It was very reasonably priced at $3.99, but all of the Christmas stuff was 80% off, so I think we paid about 80 cents for it. I do have a picture of that somewhere that I'll try to post too. He ended up identifying it as his favorite present of the day.
I'm always so glad to have twelve days to celebrate Christmas, which was especially evident this year, the first year that John and I and Gus sang with a choir for midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. We also hosted a big jolly gathering on Christmas Day as usual. It was all beautiful, but somewhat hectic, and so I even more appreciated having some quieter days afterwards.
I saw two movies at the theater over Christmas time, both of which I really liked. The first was Tangled - Disney's latest princess movie - based on the story of Rapunzel. It was a little violent in one scene for the youngest set, but on the whole I loved it. It was, quite seriously, one of the most profound animated films I've ever seen. And besides, the music is great.
A few days after Christmas we took the family to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When we got there, we realized it was a 3D showing, which I really wasn't interested in. So John took the kids to Narnia and I saw The King's Speech. It's a great movie - excellent in quality and a fascinating story. It is rated R for language, but it is appropriate to the story and I think it's a fine film for older teens and up. It's the true story of King George VI of England, the one who took over when his brother abdicated the throne to marry a divorced woman. What I didn't know until hearing about this film was that King George had a terrible stutter. Couldn't manage public speaking a bit. So this is the story of his stutter, how it was overcome and why it mattered so much. The casting was *exquisite* - we recognized many actors from BBC/A&E's Pride and Prejudice and BBC's Brideshead Revisited. Okay, and it's only fair to mention that I went back and saw the movie a second time with John in tow and we both loved it.
I mentioned that we've been playing a lot of board games lately. I taught the kids how to play Risk last week. We played two games and that was about enough. It's a fun game, but can definitely be overdone.
We also played lots of Settlers of Catan, which is always a favorite and just tonight we opened a brand new game we hadn't tried before, but had heard of from many quarters - Carcassonne (not sure of the spelling). It's theme runs in a similar direction to Settlers (in so far as you build things and it looks sort of medieval), but it's a very different game and is quite a bit simpler in nature. We enjoyed it a lot!
We had our Three Kings' Day celebration last night. I know it's not perfect, but we figure if we can squeeze in something between the Sunday when Epiphany is officially celebrated and the actual date of January 6th, then we're doing pretty well. For Three Kings' Day in our family, everyone has a present for everyone else, though they're sometimes in clumps (for example, both Ria and Gus had a single present to give to all of their siblings together). The kids gather a few things on their own, but mostly I collect lots of goodies (mostly from St. Vinnie's or from Target's after-Christmas clearance stuff) and have the kids come "shopping" in my room one by one. They wrap all of their own stuff and do jobs to pay for the goodies (most of which cost between 25 cents and $1). When we're ready to celebrate, we have a big procession around the house with the kids carrying the three kings from the nativity set, little boxes representing gold, frankincense and myrrh (that Gus received as a Christmas present from his godparents one year) and something to represent a star in front. We all walk all over the house singing We Three Kings and end up at the Christmas tree. It's a lot of fun, and I've found that it helps to ease the expectations of Christmas morning, because they know that's not the end of the story.
Ah, and as you can see in the photo, we did have a White Christmas! A Blessed New Year everyone! :)