|The family decorated tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care,|
and lots of presents, evident that my mom had been there.
This year we did our usual three family traditions at my mom’s place: decorating the Christmas tree, baking and decorating sugar cookies, and having an evening of hors-d'oeuvres near the brightly lit tree while listening to Christmas music.
The last of these traditions, we would typically do on Christmas Eve, but since that fell on Sunday this year, which also happened to be the fourth week of Advent, then it meant going to Mass in the morning for that obligation and that evening or the next morning for Christmas.
My nephew was very helpful in decorating the tree. Since my mom is laid-back, he got to put whatever ornaments wherever he felt like it. Growing up, my dad was the one who would have a fit if ornaments were placed too close together or if there were too many of one kind. My sister has inherited his love of order and beauty when it comes to their Christmas tree, which has a bird theme. (A photo of their tree will appear in a subsequent post devoted to Christmas day.)
Our family tree has always been an eclectic mix of hand-made and store-bought ornaments that we’ve collected over the years. Many are ones that my sisters and I made in school or during our arts and crafts undertakings at home. My mom sewed the tree skirt, which has angels on it. Ever since the fateful year when misfortune seemed my mom’s lot at least in terms of Christmas trees, she’s had an artificial tree.
On the Friday before Christmas, Kevin and I joined my sister, brother-in-law, and our niece and nephew for the GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. I’d only been there once during the Christmas season and seen some of their light display. It was Kevin’s first time ever seeing Gardenfest. The theme this year was Stories in Lights. I recognized and have read a number of the children’s books on which the different displays were based.
Kevin had fun wearing the one Christmas sweatshirt he has. He purchased it last year and donned it for several festive occasions. My husband loves the minions, and he is a good person who generally stays out of trouble, which is why I appreciate this particular challenge to Santa even more.
Christmas Eve Mass at our church was quite beautiful. We got there around 9:15, so we could hear the full choir, orchestra, and bell choir begin with some celestial-sounding carols. Our pastor Fr. Dan Brady presided at Mass. For part of his homily, he played the guitar and had us sing with him to Little Drummer Boy. My mom mentioned having seen the accompanying post on Facebook by a mutual friend of ours who is an opera singer as well as a midwife.
Below is a video of the choir and orchestra I took at the end of Christmas Eve Mass: