Advent and the 12 Days

I wanted to lump all my Advent/ Christmas/ Epiphany stories and photos in one place, even though it probably would have been easier to write multiple shorter posts throughout the last two weeks. But, after taking the last two days to undecorate and reorganize ALL. THE. THINGS. I’m finally exhausted enough to sit still and write my post.

A big Advent highlight worth mentioning; I entered three of our family’s favorite cookies in our town paper’s Christmas cookie contest and took 3rd place for my bar cookie, and two honorable mentions for my chocolate chip and holiday cookie entries. WOOT! I actually got a medal (which I have yet to pick up, but which will feature prominently in an upcoming photo shoot for sure).

We started decorating on Gaudete Sunday following Tony’s near impossible tree hunt. Even though we buy our tree later than most, we usually are still able to find a really nice tree. However pickings were slim this year. Once all the decorations were on, the tree looked fine, but we only got one candle lighting in this year instead of the usual three to four; it just dried out too fast.

For the last two years I’ve made limoncello as a gift for Fulton’s nurses and the girl’s fencing coaches. This year, I made Kahlua and Irish Cream and got no complaints.

We added two other trees to our home as well. I wanted a vintage looking silver tinsel tree for the basement with some of those bubbly lights. I also added some of our older glass ornaments in gold and pastel colors. It made me so happy every time I saw it. Tony wanted a tree on the screened in porch since he likes to sit outside in the evening, so he got a small flocked tree and added some white lights. My tinsel tree came with some colored plastic balls so Tony added a few to his tree since we didn’t need to worry about the wind blowing them off and breaking them.

Merry Christmas circa 1960.

We traded our purple and pink Advent lights for colored lights on Christmas Eve, and after attending our friends Christmas Eve party, we came home, lit the candles on our tree, and sang carols before Addie and Tony prepared for midnight Mass. I had actually managed to get all the gifts wrapped a few days prior so I didn’t need to stay up too late arranging everyone’s presents around the living room.

Christmas morning started around 7 a.m., and by 8:30 a.m. all the presents were open. The big surprise was we bought the boys an XBox. But don’t feel bad for the girls; Addie got a Samsung smartwatch and Edie got a photo printer. What I noticed now that the kids are older is that the piles of gifts were significantly smaller. Only Teddy got a HUGE toy (from grandparents). It was the same amount of stuff, but teens tend to want smaller items. There was less packaging and less mess than previous years and I AM HERE FOR THIS PHASE OF LIFE.

It’s a lot of packaging, but those are the biggest items they got. So portable!
Look at that tiny pile of gifts!! All that will easily fit in his bedroom somewhere.
Meanwhile, here’s Teddy’s new Hot Wheels garage which is actually larger than our own garage. It also takes 4 D batteries or the equivalent of one small coal burning power-plant.

We snacked on panettone before heading to 10:30 a.m. Mass; but not before putting the Turducken in the oven! We came home, had an appetizer spread and I worked on some side dishes. We had our dinner around 3:30 after the John Madden documentary wrapped up. (Did you know he was Catholic?) The Turducken (which is a deboned duck, stuffed in a deboned chicken, stuffed in a deboned turkey with layers of stuffing in between) was good, but we don’t need to eat it every year. We did a Zoom call with my parents and extended family and just enjoyed a relaxing food-coma filled day at home.

Appetizer Menu:

  • Crackers (way too many types) and multiple cheeses (Brie, cheddar, gouda, orange cheese spread, and something Spanish)
  • Italian deli meats (also way too many)
  • Spinach dip with fresh bread
  • Shrimp cocktail

Every year I think, I don’t need to get so many appetizers. It’s only going to ruin our appetite for dinner! But then I worry we won’t have enough snacks to hold us until dinner is ready and I buy a few more items.

Dinner Menu:

  • Turducken
  • Mashed potatoes with gravy
  • Homemade ravioli (I actually forgot to make these on Christmas so we ate them the next day after Mass.)
  • Fruit salad (I forgot to buy the supplies for this so Tony made it for New Year’s Eve.)
  • Roasted green beans with almonds
  • Creamed corn casserole
  • Fresh bread

Desserts (I always bake cookies a few days before Christmas and try to save the bulk for dessert on the day…with limited success.)

  • Creme de Menthe bar cookies
  • Dates stuffed with peanut butter
  • Spiced chai cookies
  • Double Delicious Bars

During the following 12 days we took a day trip to visit my parents in Lancaster. (We were concerned with how Teddy would do, but he did well with the car ride. He is still experiencing some nerve pain in his right leg but it’s at the level we expected for right now and it’s not holding him back from what he wants to do.) We got snow, and with the new patio Fulton and Teddy went out and drove around with minimal slipping, sliding, and sticking. So technically it was a white Christmas, even if it wasn’t on the first day of Christmas.

Of course everyone played lots of XBox games together, and Fulton got Warhammer 40000 so Tony spent much of his week off work assembling figures for the game. I put the finishing touches on the new home-based religion curriculum for Accepting the Gift whenever I got a spare minute.

SO MANY TINY PIECES.
And we made a gingerbread house. We chilled it outside between steps and that seemed to make stick together better. In general our screened in porch becomes a second refrigerator during the holidays.

A friend gave us a traditional Christmas pudding so we lit it on fire (as instructed!) and gave it a try. New Year’s was rainy, so we didn’t walk downtown to see the giant blueberry drop, but we could stream it online. Addie made a king cake for 12th night (Fulton found the hidden “baby” and was king.) Tony and the older four went to Epiphany Mass on the 6th while Teddy and I streamed it at home (due to his leg being sore and sensitive by the end of the day.)

We start school up this week, and Addie heads back to Cleveland early Wednesday morning. It’s been a wonderful break and Christmas season and I found myself sad, for the first time in many years, that it was time to take the decorations down (I did leave up two ceramic light up trees, and the nativity to keep the Christmas feeling going until Candlemas). I got quite a bit of reorganizing done, though I have a few more shelves to hang, and I’m caught up on uploading Edie’s school work, so I’m feeling less overwhelmed with stuff and school than I typically do heading into January. I’ve got several more Accepting the Gift projects to launch in the coming weeks so we’ll see how long I feel “less overwhelmed”.

I hope all my friends and followers had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s! Feel free to drop a link in the comments if you posted your holiday memories anywhere.

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