Christmas Days

Small Things Christmas-2918

Yesterday I cleaned out my pantry, and today I got out of the house to grocery shop, along with Seth and my youngest three.  The woman behind me in line at my final stop said to me, “You’re brave.”  I replied that I was in fact feeling rather brave, but even more so, relieved that we were at the end of our shopping trip.  I arrived home and cleaned out the fridge before putting the groceries away.  I usually have my older boys put groceries away, but that isn’t really working out.  They just put things where they will fit, and while I appreciate the help, I think I need to go back to doing it myself.  I feel the same way about the girls’ laundry, though I am heading down a rabbit trail now, when what I sat down to write about is our Christmas.

As far as gifts go, we seem to do things a little differently each year, depending on a variety of factors, including where we are at financially.  Our children don’t have high expectations in the gift department, and that helps.  We at one point decided we would only do stockings for Christmas day, but that actually got expensive, and I ran out of ideas after the first couple of years.  I could probably swing it every year with the girls, but the big boys don’t need more than one pocket knife and watch.  This year I set an approximate budget of $50 per child (I figure some people wonder about things like that.)  Our three oldest boys just got cash in their stockings along with the candy, nuts, and clementines, and the younger children received wrapped gifts.  Larkspur and Beatrix requested these cloaks in red, so that’s what I bought for them.  Job got a balance bike, a little over budget, but I supplemented with saved birthday money.  Silas has been wanting a tool set, and I ordered him this one.  Jonny told me that I could have gotten everything cheaper by going to Harbor Freight, but I patiently explained that would have required GOING to A STORE.  I wrapped a few extra gifts for everyone, mainly TinTin books.  I bought The Action Bible, which some of my kids really like, and some (Seth) find distasteful.  I also finally bought Connectagons after considering them for years.  They are cool, but are currently spread all over the house.

Some years I make most of the Christmas candy.  I joked with a friend that my theme this year seemed to be, “Why make it, if I can buy it?”  Ha!!!  Those words did actually run through my mind when I spied a bag of high end peanut brittle at the grocery store, remembering that Beatrix wanted me to make some.  I didn’t want to make some.  So, I bought some.  She didn’t mind.

Larkspur picked up my slack in the homemade department.  With Jonny’s help, she made me a candle using beeswax from our bees and an old broken teacup she dug from a dump in the woods.  I love it.  She had gifts for everyone including scarves that she knit for both Silas and Beatrix.  In the photos above Bea is wearing hers, and Lark is wearing the one she knit for Silas.  (Hmmmm.) I also received a hand painted Our Lady of Guadalupe figure from Sue Dow.  It’s so beautiful, and I’m keeping it right next to my bed.  So there was a little bit of handmade in our Christmas, which was nice.

I’ve been knitting, and my barn sweater is finally almost finished!  I washed it last night, and if that thick wool ever dries, I will sew up the pockets and add buttons.  I’m also knitting a little hat for Beatrix (making up the pattern as I go) using a skein of indigo dyed yarn (this one) that she requested from my recent indigo dyeing day.  I think it’s going to be pretty!

Right now, my younger kids are making bread with Gabe’s help and the entire downstairs is a big fat mess.  I don’t mind.  I have knitting to do, and besides, my fridge is clean on the inside.  And usually, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

I hope that all of you can ignore the mess and enjoy the season for a little bit longer as well!

The week before Christmas

Small Things Christmas-1729

Larkspur would be quick to tell you that though she’s been working hard for weeks to prepare, with handmade gifts and decorations, so far this is her worst Christmas ever.  Sometimes that happens, despite your best efforts.  The weather doesn’t cooperate (high today of 75 degrees here in Virginia), the parents are preoccupied with things that feel too big to shift focus from, the older brothers can’t seem to get along.

But then there was Christmas Eve mass, and singing in the choir, Mommy nearby having sat with her knitting in the church for nearly two hours, to be sure of a seat.  And maybe, for just a moment, that Christmas feeling finally started to creep in.

Some years are cozier, and the Christmas spirit envelops us.  Some years might seem to fall flat.  But the gift never changes, no matter how we feel.  This is what I remind Larkspur, (and myself).  We celebrate love that conquers all.  “And don’t forget,” I tell her, “Christmas is a season, and it’s only just beginning.”

As we head into this beautiful season, I wish you all a very, merry Christmas!


**edited to add:  The icons are from Legacy Icons, and the wooden nativity is from Armadillo Dreams.