14 Holiday Songs That Don’t Mention Christmas

Christmas is here, which means Christmas songs – yay!

winter forest
Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels

I look forward to this music all year. I do not listen to it off-season, as I don’t want it to lose potency. If I’m honest, the holiday-themed songs that play at the mall are not usually what makes me feel festive. Although my relationship to Christianity is complicated, to me Christmas music will always be what I was brought up on: sacred music written between 1550 and 1860 (plus a few worthy classics from the 20thcentury). Some of my favourite melodies ever in the world are traditional Christmas carols: Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard on High. (This is not to say that current musicians aren’t making some great versions of classic Christmas songs, as well as new ones that deserve to be classics… I just don’t often hear those at the mall.)

A few weeks ago, I was shopping with AB for a birthday present for her friend, and we heard singing outside the toy store. There was a women’s choir, spanning at least three generations, singing carols for passersby. AB was really excited and we made the time to listen to a few songs. Being the mush-ball that I am, and especially now, being a music teacher, I got teary-eyed. I never fail to be moved and exhilarated by a group of human voices singing a beautiful song together. It just makes me really happy – and generally speaking, it’s more likely to happen at this time of year than at any other.

Being a teacher in the public school system, I’ve also learned to tread very carefully when it comes to cultural and especially religious traditions. That is partly what inspired this list of “Christmas” songs that don’t contain the word Christmas (or Jesus, or Mary – or even Santa). It’s good to know what the options are, if you need to be secular. It’s also good to know what other traditions have inspired singing around midwinter – since there are lots. Lastly, it’s an interesting exercise to look at songs that are ingrained in the holidays and realize that some are not Christmas – just jolly.

{Side note: I am aware that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” qualifies for this list. I’ve decided not to talk about it at this embattled moment. Not because I usually shy away from hot-button issues, but because I can see both sides of the argument, and that’s boring. Plus, no one’s going to sing this one for an elementary school holiday assembly. Plus, I began writing this post at the beginning of December. Get ‘er done already, Dilovely.}

1) Gloucestershire Wassail (Middle Ages)

Okay, chances are that this isn’t going to be sung at a school assembly either. Songs about wassailing come from the tradition described thus by Wikipedia: “In the middle ages, the wassail was a reciprocal exchange between the feudal lords and their peasants as a form of recipient-initiated charitable giving, to be distinguished from begging.” It’s mostly about drinking and sharing food. There are at least six verses to this song, and one of them does mention Christmas pie – but many recordings leave that one out. My personal point about this song is that it’s simply exuberant and I love it. (In case you’re all “WHAT is this ancient song I’ve never heard of,” my mom was in a Renaissance choir when she was pregnant with me, and for many years of my childhood. I come by my early music fetish honestly.)

2) Deck the Halls (Tune written 16th c., English lyrics 1862)

This is one of those songs that was actually about Yuletide (a 12-day pre-Christian festival beginning on the winter solstice) until someone switched out the word “Yuletide” for “Christmas.” Both versions still seem to be well-known. I relate deeply to celebrating the solstice – the fact that people instinctively gather together, share meals, and burn candles and wood fires to bolster themselves against the darkness and cold.

3) Ding Dong Merrily on High (Tune written 16th c., English lyrics late 19th c.)

Is there anything more thrilling than the beautiful notes of the Gloria section, weaving around each other like dancers? Ach, so great. And this song does mention heav’n and angels, but it doesn’t say what or whom all the hosannas are about. This video was taken in Australia, which is why the audience is outside… IT’S SUMMER.

4) Here We Come a-Wassailing (c. 1850)

More boisterous singing door-to-door in exchange for food/gifts. As above, there is a mention of Christmas in some versions, depending on how many verses you sing – again, asking for Christmas leftovers – “Christmas loaf” along with some “mouldy cheese.” I always wonder – is that the good cheese mould, or is that just whatever crappy cheese is still lying around?

5) Good King Wenceslas (1853)

For the longest time, I thought the “feast of Stephen” was a hill or plain that the good king looked out on, because OBVIOUSLY. That’s where the snow was lying round about. Turns out it’s St. Stephen’s Day, variously mentioned as December 26th or 27th. Good old K-Wen brings flesh and wine to the poor man who lives by Ste. Agnes’ fountain – and, I would think, probably some mouldy cheese or Christmas pie, although that’s not mentioned. The poetry of this song plus the rather swashbuckling tune is a winning combo. Oh, and the message of being kind to those less fortunate (St. Stephen was all about that). That’s great too.

6) Jingle Bells (1857)

Arguably the most iconic holiday song ever EVER. When I ask kids to think about the first “Christmas” song that comes to their minds, the first hand up is for Jingle Bells. People compulsively incorporate bits of it into other songs, it has a proper fully-realized French version, and everyone knows the words to the chorus (which, I’ve recently realized, can be played on a class set of handbells). So joyful, so simple, and it’s always fun to sing a good, hearty “hey!” – not to mention a nice overdone “HA HA HA.” Kinda perfect.

7) Winter Wonderland (1934)

Not only is this song not about Christmas, it’s not even really about snow, in my opinion. It’s about being giddy in love, and the world seeming enchanted as a result. Which is sweet – I know the feeling of being all in a tizzy about a guy (in the winter), and it does feel magical. The “glistening” and the “heaven of diamonds” and all that.

8) Let It Snow (1945)

This may be the story of the same couple, a little later in the relationship, a bit more settled and cozy. It’s got that feeling of a snow day when you’re a kid – you watch the snow coming down and cheer for it to keep coming so you can stay home all day in your pyjamas.

9) Marshmallow World (1949)

This one is whimsical, childlike – though I must say that the lines “Those are marshmallow clouds being friendly / In the arms of the evergreen trees” have a psychedelic poetry to them that seems ahead of its time to me.

10) Sleigh Ride (Instrumental 1948, lyrics 1950)

The instrumental version of this is my favourite, with the vivacious tempo, the clip-clopping woodblocks, and the masterful trumpet whinny at the end. (Probably because I have great memories of playing it with the Concert Band in the main foyer of my high school before Christmas break – ages ago.) But I like the lyrics too. I can’t help but agree with “There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy / When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie.” Having a festive meal with people you love is one of those human things I would really miss if I had to go live among the aliens.

11) Frosty the Snowman (1950)

“Thumpety-thump-thump” is almost as Christmassy as the sound of sleigh bells, no? Well, maybe not. But Rudolph and Frosty go hand-in-hand – at least in my mind – even though one is absolutely Christmas Eve and the other, if we think about it, probably takes place in March. On one of those freaky days when the temperature shoots up and you go tromping through slush in a T-shirt and rubber boots.

12) Jingle Bell Rock  (1957)

I have really liked this song ever since several years ago when a couple of my Grade 2 students accosted me at recess and sang it to me, with actions. Especially “Giddy-up, jingle horse, pick up your feet,” because of the way they bounced around, full of joyful energy.

13) Shall We Gather by the Fire (2010)

This is from an album of the same name, by a Ren-Fest group called Three Quarter Ale. Interestingly, the majority of the songs on it are not about Christmas – some are about Hanukkah, and quite a few are just about life, but relate somehow to the holiday season. This carol ends the album, and is just as cozy a Neo-Renaissance song as you will ever find. I also love “Any Day’s a Holiday” from the same album – it’s just about the exhilaration of conviviality, and dang if it doesn’t make you wanna go dancing in your pantaloons.

14) The Holly and the Ivy

I’ve put this in the last spot because it’s a bit of a mystery. There is some debate about how old its origins are; some say it began as a druidic song, before Christmas was a thing. I came upon a post written by someone who grew up with a secular version of this song and who didn’t know until much later that the most common version is Christian. I was intrigued, because the forest-y imagery is what I love best about this song – the bright plants, “the rising of the sun, and the running of the deer” through a majestic snowy woodland in my mind. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a truly listenable pagan version, so here’s a very listenable Christian version… and for your reference, two different non-Christmas lyric pages here and here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the list, and are enjoying some togetherness with good people, yummy food, and warm toes. Wait, that kinda sounds like toes are food. No. Dang it, Dilovely, wrap it up.

I just wish you happy glowy times. Love to you and yours!

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Random Acts of Generosity and other festive things

apple-giving
Photo by Erik Scheel.

Last Friday morning, I walked home from the grocery store with tears running down my face. It had promised to be a very ordinary day: drop off the kids at school, pick up a few things from the supermarket, get some laundry done and some emails answered before teaching at noon. I’d be thinking about what needed to be prepared for a busy  weekend, what Christmas shopping is left, what assessments I need to cover with my students before winter break.

Instead, I got out my wallet to pay at the checkout, and heard the man standing there say, “I’ll take it.” He was short, with glasses, a navy blue jacket, salt-and-pepper hair, and a big smile. He said, “Merry Christmas.” The cashier twinkled at me – this person had just paid the bill for at least one  person ahead of me too, including the $120 coat in the cart. (I had caught the end of that conversation but not understood what it was about.)

I admit to having been stunned at that moment. Immediately my eyes filled with tears. Not because I am in need of this generosity; just because it was beautiful. It did not enter my mind to refuse, even as I was wishing the gift had landed on someone for whom it would make a bigger financial difference. I did not wonder at the motivation – this man was obviously just getting a great kick out of nonchalant supermarket generosity at 9 a.m. on a Friday. I waited until he had paid, then I shook his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas, meeting his eyes so he could see that I’d been moved.

My eyes are getting teary all over again as I write this. I can’t even fully explain why.

I know that generosity is all around me. As an elementary school teacher in a very supportive community, I see generosity in big and little ways all the time, from kids and parents and staff. The same is true at my children’s school. These are “have” communities, good at sharing.

I am lucky to live in a place where, as another example, one lovely (artist and blogger) friend of mine was able to rally a large group of women to give their time and money, creating enormous holiday baskets, full of items both crucial and fun, for our local women’s shelter.

Maybe my reaction comes from the fact that self-gratification, overconsumption, and narcissism are writ so large in the world right now. They wear us down, both individually and as a species. Sometimes, a person just needs to be thoroughly surprised by another human’s ability to defy social norms in the name of giving. I can tell you, I appreciated that shock.

Now, I get to benefit twice. My plan is to pay forward this gesture in my own ways, thus also enjoying surprising some folks with something nice, whether they need it or not… But also, it’s my good fortune to keep that moment I’ll never forget, a reason to weep happily over twenty-seven dollars and change.

For Christmas, I wish for you to witness a kindness that puts tears in your eyes.

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Sending you actual love, right now.

Free image via pexels.com cabin forest winter night

Hi, Lovelies.

It’s been a busy month for most of us. And cold and snowy for many of us, at least in our area of Ontario.

I also know it’s a really hard month for people. Even for those who celebrate and love the holiday season, it’s hard. Keeping spirits up when there’s so much to do, when expectations are high (especially our own), through the emotional ups and downs of social occasions, anticipation and letdown, hopes and dreads.

I love this time of year, and I find it hard too. I love the music and the food and the family and friends. Gifts are fun too, especially when you get to give gifts to children.

But I still fight depressing thoughts. I worry that materialism and greed will take over my kids, despite our best efforts. I worry about the germs that spread scarily fast in winter. Especially when it’s really cold out, I worry about the people who don’t have someplace warm to be. I feel the emptiness when Christmas ends. And I struggle with the darkness. It makes me dwell on the things that are wrong in the world. It makes them seem overwhelming.

This has always been somewhat true for me. I remember the way it would feel on winter evenings when I was young… I would consciously turn on my warm yellow desk lamp and read an L.M. Montgomery book, to fend off the creeping knowledge that the world is dangerous and violent and dark and cold. I had to deliberately keep these thoughts at bay, even though I had very little actual experience with suffering. I can only imagine how hard it must be for people who don’t have loving families, who don’t feel safe, who spend their days hungry or in pain.

Right now, I’m hoping that you are okay, and have found some beauty in this month.

I hope you have spent time with people you love.

I hope you have also spent at least a little time just for you, doing what you love most.

I hope you felt awe in Nature, despite the darkness – a sunbeam when you really needed it, a bright star, a pink sunrise, the deep hush of a snowfall in progress.

I hope the shortening of nights has been a comfort, even though it’s hard to see.

I hope that if you were grieving, you did not feel alone.

I hope you deeply felt the support, purpose, creativity, and unity you needed.

I hope you’ve had a really good laugh.

I hope you saw – or were part of – generosity in action.

I hope your home was warm, and your candles burned bright.

I hope you’ve felt some true wonder lately.

And some joy.

Today is a beautiful snowy day. (And it’s packing snow, miracle of miracles!) Our tree is still up and smells sweet. Our kids are not completely healthy right now, but healthy enough to play. We have been blessed to visit with all family branches this month. There’s been singing, which is important to me. Also family games and jigsaw puzzles, which I love. Sean has actually had significant time off, which is a treat for all of us. I’m very grateful for all these things.

2016 has been a rough and upsetting year in many ways, but it’s almost done. We in this house are choosing to be optimistic about 2017.

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Dear Kids: For the record, you adore each other.

Our kids are like most siblings: they play together, and they fight together. Sometimes, the screaming is pretty horrifying. And then there are those moments – and those little games and traditions they invent – that warm you right down through to the sub-cockle area of your heart.

{For example, there’s this one funny procedure whenever I give them their vitamins. They have fish-shaped ones and Disney-character-shaped ones – please don’t judge us – and they MUST discuss them every time. They announce the colours they received, and what characters, and what order they eat them in. And then they put up their thumbs in different positions depending on whether their vitamins match or not. I don’t know why or how this came about, but they’re both VERY attached to the ritual.}

Last evening, there was a lot more good and happy play than screaming. (Which I really needed, after three weeks in a row of my Hubbibi on evening shifts.) At one point, they were sitting amicably together in the guest room, having constructed a barrier so each could not see what the other was drawing.

Turns out E was making a present for AB. The next morning there was a note in the advent calendar pocket, which completely turned around a morning that had promised to be very grumpy on her part:

note-to-sister
look in the guest room and you will find a present there

And it led her to this lovely festive drawing…

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Bells are ringing!

And THIS was on the other side.

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I can’t even.

I got a bit teary-eyed and all squeezy and kissy with that boy when he showed me. (Which he doesn’t mind as he is a squeezy, kissy type himself. They’re both very affectionate, even with each other, to the point that staff members at their school stop to watch their sweet little goodbyes in the mornings as a pick-me-up.)

And since we’re looking a wee masterpieces, here’s what AB was drawing at the same time.

christmas-drawing
Sort of looks like an underwater scene… But it’s a holiday scene!

The spidery things are suns, and the phallic green-and-brown thing is a Christmas tree (obvs), and the little brown guy is a reindeer, and the swoopy line is a sleigh, and the black dots are buttons on a (non-visible) snowman, and there are also a few flowers and stars sprinkled in there.

So, kids, if you’re reading this and you’ve reached that phase of your lives (because we have to assume it will arrive eventually) where each of you annoys the other ALL THE TIME, please just know that you truly love one another deep down, and you’re a sublime little team when you need to be. We love you kajillions.

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Failure and Gratitude and Christmas Spirit

Hey, lovely Di-hards. And hi, li’l blog. I’ve missed you all.

It’s hard to believe that not only has half of November come and gone since I last wrote, but Christmas has too. There are many who would tell me not to beat myself up about absolutely crashing and burning in the middle of NaBloPoMo, and while I would, in essence, agree, I also count it as a failure on my part. I deliberately set my expectations on the low side, and still didn’t meet them.

Since then, many blog posts have been pondered – and some started – and none finished. Damn inertia, and damn the unexplainable standards I set for myself, and the guilt I always feel on my own behalf.

I’m hoping it’s the stage of life that I’m at. Since having kids, I have handily and necessarily learned how to let certain things fall by the wayside, but now I think I may be a little TOO good at it. I have always had real trouble quitting  or even backing away from things, as a kid and as a young adult, and in my soul I’m still not comfortable with it.

I also don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t feel gratitude during the latter half of November. I thought about it every day, and wanted to tell you about it.

Of course, looking back at November, and even much of December, I can see that there were obstructive factors (read: excuses). They tended to be of a distinctly non-festive, non-literary, laundry-intensive, medical-but-humdrum nature that made me say, “I could blog about this… but who wants to read about the minutiae of cleaning up cat diarrhea or accidentally spraying clarithromycin across the room or doing kid-puke laundry at 1 a.m.?”

I was also acutely aware, as Christmas got closer, of how all those problems, while tiring and time-consuming, were small potatoes. I couldn’t help thinking, very often, of the Neville-Lake family and the Bott family, each of whom lost three children in tragic accidents this fall, here in Canada. Awful as it is to imagine the pain of these families, it makes a parent grateful even for the tantrums and the nighttime wakeups and unending messes – things that, as Sean put it, those parents would give anything to have back.

And, of course, there are the refugees. On December 23rd, I was reading about people working tirelessly to gather desperate Syrians from the seas off the edge of Greece, to make them warm and feed them something. Tears rolled down my face as I read. I felt grateful, not just for my extremely safe and easy life, but also for the amazing work of humans who care about other humans.

I also felt enormously grateful to live in a country that has opened its doors, where folks are excited to be welcoming these people who so urgently need our hospitality. We Canadians, freed from the oppressively bad attitude of our former government, are remembering our long-held tradition of making sure there’s room at the inn for people fleeing persecution. Remembering what real kindness looks like. That is downright Christmasy.

Now, Christmas is past, and the southern U.S. is being battered with scary, deadly weather, and Ontario is bracing for our own storms. I’m so thankful that the Southerners I love are safe and well right now.

It should be mentioned, of course, that in spite of the odds, we have spent happy, fun time during the Christmas season with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins from each of our family branches, as well as many good friends – and, miraculously, none of us was hacking up a lung/crying with earache/vomiting during ANY of those times! (And once again, props and gratitude to my own teacher immunities for helping me stave off icky things, over and over.)

And finally, many thanks to Auntie Emi, who ensured me this block of time to write today by making sure my children were occupied. xoxoxo. I had been feeling sad when thinking of my blog, like it’s an old friend I just don’t see or really know anymore… And now I feel better.

Love to all of you and your beloved people this season.

christmas-refugees-germany
(Photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)

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100 Happy Days – Day 37: Christmas Tree!

 

 

I wish you could have seen how excited the kids were to decorate our Christmas tree. Especially AB – she kept saying things like, “I’m DECORATING THE TREE!” and “Look at this one! It’s so cool.”

Like last year, we got a pre-cut tree from the local Y, which helps to support their Youth programs. And boy, does it smell like beautiful Christmas.

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Happy.
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Focused little decorator.
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As usual, certain lower branches are more thoroughly laden than others.
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Yay!

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100 Happy Days – Day 34: Advent Calendars

This year, we are marking the days of advent LIKE A BOSS. Like a whole FAMILY O’ BOSSES.

That is to say, E still has Auntie Beth’s gorgeous creation which we fill day by day with tiny nifty things. (Except for yesterday, when I broke E’s heart by not having it secretly filled by the instant he woke up, and he cried and insisted, “It gets filled at night! Now it’ll never work again!!!” But then, it magically did work, while he was at school.)

Then, Grandma J got the kids each a classic Santa Claus advent calendar with teeny stamped chocolates for each day – because who doesn’t love a teeny chocolate first thing in the morning? Sean gets all nostalgic about his own advent-chocolate exploits of childhood. And AB was pretty screechy-happy when she found out what was behind those windows.

And this year, I finally ordered “traditional” advent calendars for E and AB – the kind with little pictures behind each window, like I had when I was a kid. Because I love-love-loved my own advent calendar and wanted them to have something similar.

traditional advent calendar
AB got woodland creatures.
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E got the one with the cars (Norman Rockwell).

And then Grammie sent animated virtual advent calendars from (by Jacquie Lawson), and they are very spiffy. Games and puzzles and tree-decorating and pets that follow you around, and new things to explore each day. (My favourite thing so far is the snowflake designing tool, where the six-way symmetry turns whatever you make into a gorgeous snowflake.)

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This is the opening scene of the Edwardian one…
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And this is the Christmas Market one.

To sum up: with this much counting down, there’s no excuse for not being absolutely ready for Christmas this year! Unless the excuse is that we were having too much fun with our advent calendars to do anything else.

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100 Happy Days – Day 23: Party at the Farm

Sunday, November 23rd: Festive Fun at Springridge Farm!

We have a group of friends that do two Christmas parties per year – one for the kids and one for the adults. Our friend K organized this epic outing this year:

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A funny, bumpy tractor-drawn wagon ride…
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Some cookie-decorating…
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With gingerbread people and chocolate candies (AB ended up with just those two questionably-placed candies on hers)…
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(And E was, unsurprisingly, very particular and precise about his…)
springridge farm
We saw animals (chickens, turkeys, peacocks, goats, bunnies…)
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Got lots of fresh air…
hay piles
And climbed and jumped and ran on hay…
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And found mud puddles…
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(to sit in – thank goodness for splash pants…)
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Climbed a big awesome hill…
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And there was general joy for all, including li’l G (whose mama couldn’t be there so the rest of us doted on/photographed him)…
tractor riding
And tractor riding (E’s favourite)!…
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On designer tractors, no less…
tube slides
And there was even some sliding.

It was very fast-paced. There were also mini-pizzas, cupcakes, juice boxes, mural-colouring, and even a wee bit of chatting amongst the parents, when possible.

GOOD TIMES.

Thank you, K!!

P.S. All the photos that look great in this post are by Daddy. The ones that look mediocre are mine.

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100 Happy Days – Day 22: Singing Children

When your kids sing, it makes all the hard stuff worthwhile.

AB wandering around the house, singing a bittersweet, evocative song to the “friends” she’s carrying with her.

And E heartily singing at the breakfast table: “Oh, tidings are covered in joy, covered in joy!”

I just melt.

He sang this refrain yesterday in he car, too, and asked me, “Mummy, are you covered in joy?” I told him there were definitely times when I am. Like that moment.

(I’m afraid I don’t have photos of this, since you have to just love the moment and a pic wouldn’t do it justice anyway… so I’m cheating on the photo-every-day thing. I’ll see what I can do about a singing montage sometime soon, to make up for it.)

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Freezing and Thawing and Partying

It’s been a memorable holiday season. Christmas that was both black(out) and crazily white… So much awesome family… Yummy food and festive music… Gratuitous cuteness….

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The true meaning of Christmas: Cousin R and Baby AB chillin’ with random things in their mouths.
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E with brand-new cousin M.
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My Aunt’s legendary Figgy Pudding on Christmas Eve.
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Artsy Christmas tree pic taken by E.
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Baby AB snuggling.
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Self-selected holiday fashion.
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Self-selected (except for the sleeper) holiday fashion.
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I’m sure y’all heard about (/participated in) that crazy ice storm. My poor parents were without power for 4 days, so Christmas morning ended up at our house! But the TREES. The SPARKLINESS. On Christmas Eve, E looked out the window and started exclaiming about all the new “pretty lights” on ALL the trees; it was the sunset hitting the ice. Amazing.
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I just know there are majorly profound lessons to be taken from the cedars and birches that just bend like this, then (mostly) recover when the ice melts.
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Presents! Here was a fave: mini paleontological dig in plaster for a triceratops tooth.
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So, Mrs. Claus was in Chapters a few weeks before Christmas and found this: a BOY FAIRY. She thought of E, who had recently been watching Tinkerbell and who still wants to wear his fairy wings even though the elastic is stretched all to heck. She took the plunge.
New-arrival-2012-schleich-yulan-font-b-magnolia-b-font-font-b-tree-b-font-fairy
Then she also got this lovely-and-not-too-frou-frou girl fairy.
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Then she got a daemon for each fairy (baby wolf, baby tiger) and got a bit crafty with a pretty gift box and tag she’d received from a fellow blogger, and made a fairy house. (The door’s in the top because FAIRIES. They fly in.) (And yes. Mrs. Claus has a blog. Pretty sure she’s on Pinterest too.) In case you’re wondering, E did not flip out over the fairies as Mini-Di would have at his age, but he has been enjoying his fairy folk, on-and-off. He was stoked when he realized that his popsicle-stick craft from school makes a perfect deck for them.
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But this present was the real winner. Automoblox Minis. He had one already from his Great-Aunt Suze, so Mommy and Daddy added these – and you can mix and match all their parts, once you have more than one. Seriously, they’re so fun.
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Pillow forts. Baby AB is a fort-wrecker, and also hilarious.
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Treats!
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New Year’s Eve fireworks in the park! E’s first “up-close” fireworks. Damn cold but awesome all the same.
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New Year’s Day open house at Grammie and Papa’s. All partied out.

 Now here we are. Gearing up to go back to school and normal life tomorrow, while also battening down for another storm. Bracing for back-to-school germs, now that both kids are finally almost done coughing and E is getting over his second bilateral ear infection since JK started. Feeling a bit of the blues, but also glad to be getting back to a routine.

And today, my Hubbibi spent the day cleaning house (while I got the kids out of there) so we could all feel fresh and ready for NEW YEARNESS. (Thanks, honey. What a difference.)

Here we go!

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