Christmas Memories

This Christmas, I am very grateful to have my husband home. I know that there are many readers of this blog who are not as lucky, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers.

If you feel the need to have a sharp knife piercing your heart, check out this video: Bring Him Home Santa.

Six years ago, Bill was not home for Christmas. It was a bad holiday. Back then, I wrote about what it was like, and a few years ago, I posted that memory on my blog. I’ve come a long way in six years, and would like to think that things wouldn’t be as bad now that I have children who are older and more helpful. I’m not sure, though. Older children have different ways of making life difficult.

If Santa didn’t bring your soldier home this Christmas, I sincerely hope that the rest of his deployment goes quickly for you. And if you have no deployed soldier in your life, try to say a prayer today for those who can not fully experience the joy of Christmas, especially the children.

For older believers, Santa’s magic is ageless

For older believers, Santa’s magic is ageless –

This article brought me to tears. If you read only one Santa story this year, read this one. The best part is at the end.

(It is 90% safe to read out loud to your husband with children present: bottom half of Page 2 should be previewed first.)

Called out on the carpet

My sister called me yesterday to tease me about yesterday’s post.

“Candy? Carols? What happened to the penitential season of Advent?”

“I’ve been doing penance for 6 months,” I protested.

“And, seriously, you didn’t leave him any shopping to do for you?”

“He wasn’t supposed to be home until the 28th!”

“You are going to bake cookies, right?” Not having Christmas cookies is a mortal sin in our world.

“Good grief, woman! I’ll get to it. Eventually.”

Mental note: little sisters scrutinize blog posts more harshly than the average reader.

Thank goodness, the eggnog is gone

Three kids wanted the last little bit of eggnog.

“How about I put it in one cup and you share it,” I suggested.

“But Katie doesn’t like whipped cream and Peter and I do,” whined Jenny. She had a point, but I feared that they would be disappointed if they saw their portion in our usual mugs. I think, perhaps, more eggnog would remain clinging to the sides of the mug than would actually make it into their bellies.

So, I gave them virgin eggnog shooters instead.

The things you do for love.

Family gift: if it makes Dad happy, then it makes everybody happy

Bill put on his Christmas wish list a Remington 870. Fine. The man wants a gun for Christmas, I’ll get him a gun for Christmas.

But then he typed in after it that it could be a “family gift.”

Who is he kidding?

Oh, I’ll learn to operate it. That way, he can abandon me for weeks or months at a time but still rest easy at night, comforted by the notion that between the dog and the gun, his family can fend off the average bad guy until the police arrive.

But as long as I have money and a grocery store that will take it, I will never ever shoot a duck or a pheasant or any other animal unless it is rabid and about to attack my toddler.

Bill flew to Korea on November 30th, and first thing on December 1st, I called a friend of his. He helped me figure out exactly what to buy, where to go, questions to ask so that I would bring along all the proper paperwork. I’m not sure what all the other people in the office thought about Bill’s wife calling this guy as soon as Bill went out of town. But such are the indignities I am willing to suffer just to make my husband’s Christmas special.

Finally, by the end of the week, I had the time to head down to the gun shop of choice. I packed all six kids in the car and put five bags of M&Ms in my pocket. The deal was, if anyone said that my kids were well behaved, the kids could have the candy on the way home.

We had to be quite a sight. I, obviously, did not know a thing about guns. But the man was nice, the kids were complimented (and earned their candy), and I walked out of there a gun owner.

This is something I never expected I would ever do. But that’s my husband: always getting me to try new things, stretch my horizons, grow, develop, expand. Or maybe that’s just part of being an Army wife.

Because Bill then went to Japan and continued to be away for another week, I knew that the majority of the children would completely forget about our little adventure. Those who remembered were most likely to keep a secret. And they did, shockingly enough. In fact, I think even the older ones temporarily forgot, and didn’t say anything when Christmas Day arrived and there was no shotgun under the tree.

It was the day after Christmas when Bill and his dad started talking about guns that Fritz, an eager listener, sought me out. “Uh, Mom, what about Dad’s gun?” he asked. “Don’t worry about it,” I reassured him. And, good kid that he is, he left it at that.

I couldn’t resist. Instead of giving it to him for Christmas, I saved his “family gift” for yesterday, the Feast of the Holy Family. I’m not sure what Jesus, Mary and Joseph would think about my gift, but I think it’s funny.

Bill was thoroughly surprised, and I’m not sure which impresses him more: me buying a gun or the kids keeping a secret. And although I find myself to be completely predictable, I am still managing, after nineteen years, to keep Bill guessing.

Happy Epiphany

This recipe is proof that if you don’t prefer sweet potatoes, you simply haven’t added enough sugar to them. I do think I’ll go a tad easier on the rum next time, but I do think there will be a next time.

Katie found the 50 pfenning coin in the King Cake, so she got a new I Spy book. She also happened to find the pickle on the tree Christmas morning, and received a straw dispenser. Anybody else do fun Christmas games like these?

Holy Family Day Trip

For the record: from the moment we decide to go somewhere, on a whim, to the time we actually manage to get the eight of us showered, dressed, fed, packed up, shoes tied, gloves and coats on, in the car, belts buckled, and one-more-run-back-into-the-house-for-the-camera, over two hours pass. Embarrassing. Needs improvement.

We don’t normally attend the Saturday vigil, but we did this weekend. This left our Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family, open to celebrate by going somewhere fun.

First, we headed to Union Station and bought a family pass for Science City. We have to go two more times to make it worth the cost, but it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a great place for the kids to work off excess energy on cold winter days. Billy particularly enjoyed the area that looked like a city sewer system and the black sewer tunnel you could crawl through. I think he went through the tunnel 20 or 30 times. Jenny tried four times to go, but, even with siblings, was too scared. I don’t think we saw a third of the things in Science City. We’ll go back.

Next, we used The Link, an elevated glass walkway (too cool), to get to the Crown Center. It has a shopping area, which we didn’t care about, but it also had several seasonal displays including a gingerbread village with a train. The kids loved that. Outside there was a large Christmas tree, a display that kids could climb on (like this train), and a skating terrace. We did not go skating, and the kids were highly disappointed.

We finished our day by eating at Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. How could we not? We ate at the one at the Crown Center, but this link shows the original one, not too far away. You order by using the phone at your table, and your meal is delivered by an overhead train. It was cute. It was fun. The food was greasy, but I happen to like greasy food, and it’s fine in moderation (like once a year).

There was a family with seven kids (gasp!) at the restaurant. I resisted the impulse to ask if they were all theirs. And then we saw another family with about 5 kids. I asked Bill if it was Big Family Field Trip Day or what. Maybe they all had the same idea we did: honor the Holy Family by making our own family memories. It was, all in all, a good day.

Would you care for a (slightly used) nut?

Peter likes M&Ms (who doesn’t?).

Peter likes plain M&Ms.

Peter does not like peanut M&Ms.

We only happen to have peanut M&Ms in the house right now. {My husband, who is addicted to M&Ms, switched to peanut from plain several years ago out of health reasons: nuts being a source of protein.}

If the M&Ms are left within his reach, Peter will eat them. The plain part. The peanut part he’ll put back for someone else to eat.