December ended up being absolutely cram-packed with holiday festivity. I always do that. I just want as much Christmas as I can possibly stomach, and still it's never quite enough. I guess that's a great thing about Christmas - I don't ever seem to get sick of it. I just love it so much and glut myself on the music, the lights, the gatherings, the gifting...and I have yet to feel over-fed.
Here is a rundown of the best parts of the month:
Thursday Dec. 1
My dear friend Becca and I decided to have a Christmas Date. We couldn't get together until a little later in the evening, but we fed our families and got our kids settled, and then the two of us got all festive. We went to Trader Joe's and bought wreaths and garlands to decorate our porches. Neither of us had really been to the big holiday decor store Modern Display before, especially at Christmas time. Well, maybe I had been once years before but I couldn't really remember what was actually in that massive place. As it turns out it's pretty much the Mecca of holiday decor. We had so much fun wandering through the displays - all sorts of Christmas villages, every style of tree decorating you could imagine, knick-knacks of all varieties. We both purchased some ornaments. Mine were of course snow flakes. I wanted so desperately to buy this leather strap strung with magical-sounding reindeer bells, but I resisted. Maybe next year. We then went to Becca's house, sipped very tall sodas, watched White Christmas, and folded our favorite red paper stars to decorate our trees with. It was a great start to the season.
Friday Dec 9
This was the night our ward held its annual Christmas party. This year I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I think last year I tried to at least help in the kitchen or something. (Can it really be four years ago that I ran the show? Maybe even five? Not sure!) What a pleasant way to spend an evening, not only due to the fact that I was very aware of how not-stressed I was over food or decorations or programs or anything of the sort. We invited my dad along with us, and the kids all put on pajamas to follow with the theme of the night, which was The Polar Express. We enjoyed breakfast for dinner and listened to a reading of the wonderful story. Two highlights of the evening - one was that I asked Skippidy if she'd go to the hot chocolate bar and fix me up a cup. She returned with a cup of what can hardly be considered hot cocoa. It was more like diabetes in a cup. She totally went to town with her additions and cracked us all up with her creation. I thanked her profusely and decided in my heart to never again allow her to make dessert for me.
Also of great fun that evening was the fact that Cap has made a couple of really darling friends, both girls. The three of them have really gotten tight over the past month, and spend some fun time together. I couldn't be happier that he has real actual friends who are real actual girls. Cool girls at that - they are so funny and down to earth. I really like them. He invited them to the party and I was shocked when they both agreed and joined us! How cute is that!
I can't remember the date....
Skippidy tagged along with me to a Relief Society activity where we made these awesome paper wreaths. She was totally hilarious, letting everyone know that she was officially the Queen of the Glue Gun. We really had fun making this darling wreath, and I'm grateful to the two sweet and amazingly skilled and crafty guys who helped facilitate the activity. Great fun.
I can't remember the date of this one either....
Troy and I are so lucky to have The Becky (for oh so many reasons!) who always makes sure we get tickets to the big Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Orchestra at Temple Square Christmas Concert. It is such a treat. We had a lovely date night - and I'm not going to lie. Part of the joy of that evening was the smugness we felt by finding a great parking spot only a short walk away from the Conference Center - an absolutely massive venue that holds thousands and thousands of people. Between the Christmas Concert, the draw of the downtown lights, a Jazz game, performances of The Nutcracker and other events going on in downtown Salt Lake City, it was an absolute nightmare to get through the area, park, or get out of there! Some people we knew were stuck for hours in the depths of the City Creek parking garage. So yes, we felt rather smug when we parked a few blocks away in the avenues and walked down a hill into the city with no problem. Oh yes, also the music and setting were just wonderful.
Okay forget the dates....
Speaking of The Nutcraker, I don't think I've seen that ballet since I was a little girl, and maybe then just as a tv show or movie, never in person. I don't know. Knowing my mom, I probably did get to see it at least once. I've never taken my kids to see it, and this year as our Girl Scout Cookie selling-prize we were given tickets to go see it on a Saturday before Christmas. (I think Saturday the 17th.) The only downside was that we were seated among many Girl Scouts and their families and some of them were really obnoxiously loud. (I'm becoming an old lady! I hate noisy kids around me in performances and movies! Ack!) So yes, I'm old. I think my girls were a little bothered too, good for them. Other than that one little detail, which didn't even last too long, it was an absolutely magical afternoon. I knew my girls, Skippidy especially, would be entranced. And I was totally right. It isn't a very long ballet - each half is only about 45 minutes. And as I watched those memorable scenes, I felt the same awe and wonder that I remember from my childhood. The terrifying mouse king, the growing Christmas tree, and the Nutcracker himself. I clearly remember my whole heart loving that little Clara, so much so that I for a time tried to insist that no one call me anything but Clara. It didn't take. But oh how I loved her. Now I think I'm rather more taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy or some of the other incredible dancers we got to watch. I might have to find a way to go again next year, even though it won't be free because I am totally not letting my girls sell cookies this year. I need a year off. Don't tell them - they don't yet know! But also since they haven't asked maybe they won't care...
Oh I remember this one - Saturday December 16 -
Musical Magic at the Bucherts. Dear Martin, our neighbor and life-long friend, has a birthday in December. Every year their family celebrates by hosting a night of soup and singing at their house. It is something I have learned to look forward to every year. Some years there are lots and lots of people there, and some years, like this one, there aren't many. The Bucherts are very well educated in the world of music, and they have these awesome binders full of glorious Christmas music. Most of it is so glorious that I spend the evening feeling like I can't quite keep up or find my notes, and I feel sometimes a little frustrated and sad about my lack of singing talent. For some reason this year, that didn't happen as much. Maybe it was the smaller group or maybe it was the fact that this is my 5th (!!!) year going and I'm getting to know the music a bit more. Whatever the case may be, I enjoyed the music more than ever this year. My dad was able to join us, and a few other friends who aren't usually there. It was an absolute treat.
Friday Dec 16 as well as Friday Dec 23
Two outings, both involving a Buchert and both involving the Cathedral of the Madeleine. How can I possibly put this into words? There is a choir school at the Cathedral, just down the street from my house, on South Temple. I was delighted to be invited to go to their Carol Ceremony on the 16th. I joined in with a massive clan of Bucherts in heading down there. It was beyond describable, and pretty much contained my most favorite parts of the holiday season. We sat in a dimly lit and absolutely gorgeous cathedral. Candlelight spread a soft glow about the room. And filling the cavernous space were sweet and pure voices singing sacred and ancient carols. It sent chills right through me and I thought I would just about burst with joy. I hope I get to do that again some time. Becca and I also went to the very brief but spectacular performance of Benjamin Britten's Cermony of Carols on the 23rd. I can't really find the words to describe the experience. Come with me next year.
These many wonderful events all happened among the many other hours of listening to music, making cookies, knitting gifts, shopping, wrapping, watching every holiday movie we could think of....and I'm still sad it's all over!