Ten years ago

Shutterfly has jumped on the “Memory” wagon and I love it…Last week they emailed me these photos from a Christmas card photo shoot ten years ago!

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We’re going to see that no-longer-little-sprite-on-the-right very soon…I just bought his train ticket. He’ll be home for the holidays from his first semester of college by the end of the week!

Decorating for Christmas…

It’s that time of the year…

 

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We’ve been getting live Christmas trees for the past few years. They do well for about half a year or so and then they precipitously expire in a melodramatic cascade of brown needles. This year we actually managed to keep our Christmas tree alive for the first time ever. (I must remember to saw out 1/3 of the rootball in February as the nurseryman instructed us to do to keep it happily growing in its pot). It’s way too heavy to hoist back onto our porch, where it lived last Christmas, and this makes decorating it more complicated.

Since we can only put up ornaments that can handle rain or snow, I thought birdseed ornaments would be just the thing. It turns out they are crazy expensive to buy, but a snap to make. I found a recipe online that uses unflavored gelatin, corn syrup, flour & birdseed pressed into cookie cutters prepped with cooking oil spray.

Here are a few:

 

Next time I’ll use a mixed birdseed and more colorful ribbons so they look a little more interesting.

The problem in our household is that everyone wants Christmas decorations, but no one actually wants to put them up…

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It’s a start!

Holiday Snaps

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Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar

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Thank God she stopped playing!

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Sleep in heavenly peace.

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Reading Santa’s letter…

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Daisy opens her present…

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Drooltide Logs!

 

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This gift was a big hit for the cell phone crowd…

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Somebody fell in love with the kitty her auntie was kitty sitting for a week…

Meanwhile, back in Charlottesville…Tallis & Chloe were having their own Home Alone adventure…IMG_2489

Advent

We didn’t get around to doing everything we usually do in the lead up to Christmas. Our advent calendars never got hung, the little decorative trees we usually put out never emerged from their long hibernation in a cabinet somewhere, we never recorded a song for the annual holiday video we make in lieu of a Christmas card…

I apologized to the kids for this year’s lapses. My daughter regretfully noted that it might be her big brother’s last year to experience the traditions we failed to keep. He graciously consoled us by saying, “We’re just so busy…”

The day before we left for our annual pilgrimage to Princeton for the holidays, our Christmas tree still hadn’t been decorated. I delivered a holiday edict with a bellow that I’m sure could be heard at the North Pole: “GET PACKED UP, CLEAN UP YOUR ROOMS, AND GET THAT TREE DECORATED BY THE TIME I GET HOME FROM WORK!!!!”

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A bit rough around the edges, but it’s done.

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We may not have gotten around to everything, but we did observe a few of our favorite traditions, including the annual Christmas party at our friends’ house.

When my roommate Janel & I were in graduate school together, we decided to start a singing group. Two young tenors strolled into our apartment on Riverside Drive and auditioned with a rendition of Dona Nobis Pacem sung in a round. We let them into the group and into our hearts.

On Saturday evening, over twenty years later, we gathered together with our children and sang Dona Nobis as a prayer before dinner.

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We decorated cookies…

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…and sang Christmas carols:

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As we were leaving to head back to Arlington, my friend showed us a special ornament in the shape of a book. They’ve been inscribing Christmas memories in it for years. Craig showed us the page for 1999, a year we all met up in Princeton. Our oldest son was in utero at the time. We didn’t know if he would be a boy or a girl, but we had nicknamed him “Sh’Diamond”!

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En route to Princeton the next day, we spotted another couple who were taking a rest from their travels at the Delaware Welcome Center…IMG_2396IMG_2400IMG_2408

Tonight we’ll watch the cousins in their Christmas pageant, we’ll return to the house for Christmas eve dinner, and then my sisters and I will retreat to the office for our traditional sisters’ gift-wrapping marathon into the wee hours…

We couldn’t get around to everything this year, but here we are!

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

 

Postcards from Princeton

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My sister and me – and my photobomber niece!

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Hanging out with an Innkeeper and Joseph.

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Silent Night

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My niece and her dad.

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Nana’s famous Christmas cookies, Round 1

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Triplets and Honorary Triplet.

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Girl cousins!

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Oldest cousins

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At the top of every little girl’s wish list – a creepy elephant mask?!

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Nana’s famous Christmas cookies, Round 2

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Daisy, my new BFF.

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Tea for two

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Littlest cousins

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Wheeeeeeeee!

 

Ready for Christmas

Tree decorated…check!

img_2206Family movie…check!img_7622

Trip to the NIH…check!

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Gingerbread house contest at the NIH…check!

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Delivery of our Advent food bags to the Food Bank…check!img_7682

Christmas treats for our furry friends…check!img_2251Time with family…check!

img_7687-2Annual Christmas party with our friends…check!

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We are heading out to Princeton to join up with the rest of our family in about an hour…Wishing everyone safe travels and happy holidays!

 

Weekend Snapshots 45

We’ve been getting ready for the holidays…img_2148Around Halloween time, I was wandering around the dollar bins at Target. In my mind I could hear my mom’s repeated admonition: “DON’T BUY JUNKS!” But her voice was overpowered by the siren call of the best Target dollar bin loot ever! I got three white ceramic houses with holes in the back into which you can insert tea lights. On Saturday I went back to buy more. Tragically, they were all gone. Shoulda bought more junks when I had the chance!

img_2145That evening my daughter and I got dressed up for my son’s piano recital and realized our outfits perfectly coordinated. Obviously, a photo was in order! The dogs insisted on getting in on the action:img_2181

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After the recital we raced back home to welcome some very special guests…I feel very lucky to have a close friend I’ve known and adored since we were just twelve years old. She lives in California, so we don’t get to see each other very often, but as is the case with the very best kind of friendships – time and distance don’t matter. I was so happy to get a chance to catch up with her and to finally meet her fiancé.

img_2187-2img_2190Looking forward to going to their wedding next September!

The Holidays

Christmas

We spent Christmas in t-shirts and shorts in tropical Princeton, NJ. The kids loved hanging out with their cousins. Such a fine looking bunch, don’t you think?!

Santa did not forget Daisy:

…whose workload dramatically increased with everyone’s arrival at her house:

We had our annual Talentpalooza:

When my daughter started playing her violin, Daisy began howling along. We howled right along with her:

New Year’s Eve

We were back home in Charlottesville to celebrate New Year’s Eve with our old friends with whom we have celebrated so many New Year’s Eves in the past.

They’ll be moving from Virginia later this year, so it seemed especially important to do things for auld lang syne…

Our dinner was wildly eclectic…the kind of weird dinner you could only impose on really good friends with whom you have serious history. The kind of friends who’ll stick with you despite whatever crazy thing you dish up.

We had Korean New Year’s soup as a starter. We had lasagna and pizza as our main courses. For dessert Round 1, my husband borrowed his dad’s recipe for Bakewell tart, an English dessert:

When we first began celebrating New Year’s Eve together, our kids were so young that we would have sleepover parties. Since this was such a special occasion, we decided to reproduce our earliest New Year’s Eve parties, sleepover and all. The kids humored us by posing as we tried to recreate some of the New Year’s Eve photos from years past, though as you’ll see, my second son was not at all happy to be up so far past his usual bedtime:

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2003

We released my early-to-bed, early-to-rise second son from the torture of staying up and the rest of us got ready for the countdown with dessert, Round 2: A galette des rois.

At the stroke of midnight, a new queen was crowned. We all stumbled to our beds shortly thereafter, with visions of New Year’s Eves past, present, and future dancing in our heads.

We’re going to miss these friends of ours, but I know we’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne…

Wishing everyone health, happiness, and harmony in the new year.