Christmas Favorites

One week until Christmas, and everything is feeling quite festive here. We’ve set aside the school books for now and are focusing on reading our Christmas favorites and doing ornament crafts. Michael even helped the girls build a ginger bread house a couple nights ago!

Snow globes are Laurel’s Christmas favorite this year, along with candy canes. She just can’t get enough candy canes!

Linnea’s Christmas favorites are my homemade hot rolls and the Nutcracker. Actually both girls are quite fond of anything related to the Nutcracker. It all started last winter when Macy’s Department Store in Minneapolis had a special Christmas display of the Nutcracker. They make a pretty big deal out of their Christmas displays, and it certainly captured the girls’ imaginations. For the longest time, Laurel associated any trip to Minneapolis with the Nutcracker. Even in July, she’d ask if we were going to see the Nutcracker while downtown. It sounded so ridiculous but made perfect sense to her.

Last spring when we signed up with the homeschooling group, I saw that tickets were available for the “Swinging Nutcracker” at Orchestra Hall, so I had to buy them! On Dec. 5 the three of us girls attended the much-anticipated performance with a big homeschooler crowd. We sat in the second row, and the girls were awestruck by the ballerinas and the 95-piece symphony orchestra. It was a lovely production. It felt like it ended entirely too soon. (I’ve seen the full-length ballet twice, so this hour-long performance left me wanting more!) Afterward we met Michael for lunch at Macaroni Grill and then the girls each picked out a Nutcracker at Michael’s craft store.

The next morning we made a frigid trek to get the Christmas tree. It was a bitter cold and windy morning to be outside so long. The temperature was about 15, so we all layered on the snowpants and snow gear. We found a nice tree rather quickly and loaded back onto the tractor-drawn wagon to return to the warm-up area. 

The warm-up area at Z’s Trees (http://www.Zstrees.com) offers free hot apple cider and free peanuts in the shell. Laurel was so hungry and excited that she popped a whole peanut — shell and all — into her mouth and started chewing. I don’t know how long she’d been chewing it when I noticed the puzzled look in her eyes and figured out what was going on in that little mouth of hers. She didn’t need too much prompting to spit the mess out and eat one of the nuts I had cracked for her. Linnea right away made the connection with her new Nutcracker at home and stashed some peanuts to bring home and crack.

Once we recovered from the cold and got the tree home, decorating was a hoot. Both girls totally got in on the action. This was a first for Laurel because last year she was completed distracted by playing with a calculator and somehow missed most of the tree decorating!

After the tree, we set up the nativity, and then Linnea and Laurel spent all their free time playing with it. You can’t imagine all the unconventional visitors baby Jesus has had! Princesses, snowmen, you name it. And all of them evidently have to take naps during their visit. One evening I noticed all the people in the nativity set (plus unconventional visitors) lying down and covered up with little tissue paper blankets. I should have taken a picture! It was priceless.

Tonight while I finished stuffing Christmas letters into envelopes, we watched the “Celtic Woman Christmas” DVD. The girls love the Celtic Women http://www.celticwoman.com/. Laurel watches a few songs and then dashes off to her room to grab a big, fancy dress-up gown of her own. She dances around the living room and tries to sing all the songs at the top of her lungs. Linnea, meanwhile, is fascinated with the violinist on Celtic Woman. She pretends to hold a violin and bow and fiddles along to the music. She sings, too.

This Sunday Linnea will be singing as a choir member in the Christmas production at our church. It is a children’s musical called “A Christmas Carol,” a modern version with some slight similarities to the classic production by Dickens. She is most excited because last night at practice she got to stand next to her newest friend, Lila Selam. Lila is 6 and is from Ethiopia. Lila and her little sister Ella Furtuna were adopted by our close friends Bob and Kate. What a memorable Christmas this will be for their family! You can follow their story at http://romans815.wordpress.com.

We’ve got about 4 inches of snow right now, and the weatherman just said there’s a blizzard warning. We’re supposed to get 8 inches by noon tomorrow, and more after that. The high is 20, so there’s almost no doubt we’ll have a white Christmas! My favorite kind!

Enjoy getting ready for Christmas with those you love!

The perfect tree!
The perfect tree!
The Nutcracker fans.
The Nutcracker fans.
Tree Love
Tree Love
Laurel with her special angel
Laurel with her special angel
Linnea with her special angel
Linnea with her special angel
Playing with the nativity set
Playing with the nativity set
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