Since we are here, and you are there, we have had a very calm and uneventful day. No family gatherings, no big meals, no places to go. In some ways its nice to lounge around in PJs all day and play with the new toys, or read the new books. In other ways, its a little boring. Consequently, I actually have time to write a blog. Which helps me feel connected to you, and share our Christmas Day.
The festivities started out this week with Glory of Zion's Festival of Lights. For three nights the Garden was lit up with thousands of colored lights, there were singers on two different stages, and lots of tasty food and hot drinks. We went on Wednesday night to just enjoy it as a family-although Sam ran off immediately, which is why you won't see him in the photos. We also went on Friday, and Madeline played Christmas carols on her violin while I helped children do a craft inside the dining hall. Here we are, minus Sam, and also I got a picture with Lisa, who I work with. We share an office, and we got a big kick out of the idea that we should put a framed photo of ourselves on each of our desks. Or, pass them out to the other members of the staff. A bit of overkill.
Last night we went to our Christmas Eve service. We met a couple from New Mexico who had flown in just for the service, and then were flying back today. They brought his mother with them, and I think a brother. They were from East LA and La Puente originally, so that was fun. They have been watching GOZ on the web for a few years, and have attended at least one of the conferences. I was pretty blown away by them being there, just for the service.
It was a good service. They sang "Mary Did You Know?" and thanks to David Shack telling me about "Vader Did You Know?" on youtube, we all had trouble keeping a straight face during that one. Our worship leader, John, sang his traditional "Herod" song where he dresses up and wears a kingly hat and struts around being the bad guy. He has a very good villan laugh. This year four of the college girls danced with him and acted as the chorus and as characters in the song. It's just not a Glory of Zion Christmas without Herod. Everyone was given a candle on the way in so at the end we all lit them off those around us, and held them in the dark for quite a while. I was slightly nervous about all the little kids holding candles; Sam being one of them. He loved it, and kept blowing out his candle and relighting it on our. We made it through that without incident that I know of.
On the way home we thought it would be fun to drive through Wendy's, but it and all the other restaurants were closed. So we came home and made fried tortilla chip nachos. Yum.
This morning we had lots of fun opening presents. William got a 4 ball bowling bag and a baseball mitt, Madeline got a Kindle, Abby got an ipod touch, Sam got a Mario game and baseball equipment, and I got a pretty platter, a trivet and a smaller cast iron enamel pot.
I made cinnamon pull apart bread and a hash brown egg casserole yesterday so this morning I just had to pop them in the oven while we opened our presents. They were done just as we got hungry so we feasted with coffee and sparkling apple cider. It was good. We didn't need another meal until 5 this evening. By that time I was ready to cook again, so I made split pea soup in my cast iron enamel pot, and a cheese ball with veggies. Fun holiday food. We have learned that since EVERYTHING is closed on Christmas its almost like an ice storm. Get ready with plenty of good food beforehand so that the long day at home is extra fun. I bought a lot of fun food this last week and the urge to leave the house and forage for something more interesting has been minimal. On some Christmases past we could be found at Jack in the Box, because it was the ONLY place open. I didn't really want to do that again. So this year, when the urge to get out struck, we just took the dogs on a walk, and then came back feeling refreshed. And so did they.
We love you, miss you, and hope you have had a wonderful day celebrating Jesus' birthday! Thank you for your gifts, cards and photos. We feel blessed and we wish you a very Merry Christmas. XOXO