This is a meeting of heaven and earth, part 2

Part one is here.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning . . .

One of the nice things about celebrating Advent is that the songs in the services are chosen with care, not just any old Christmas carol. During Advent, we sing Advent songs (of which there are not that many in the Baptist Hymnal). We have a concert after the Christmas banquet so people can get their fill of Christmas carols, and we sing carols at the lovefeast, but we don’t sing carols in a service until Christmas Eve. This year, we were lucky that we also got a service on Christmas morning, so we got to sing carols twice!

Sunday morning, we headed for church. I had found out the night before that our pastor wasn’t speaking again, which was kind of disappointing, but when I was actually at the service, I didn’t mind so much. It was a good group of people, and the staff had made a big deal about how we could all come in our pajamas if we wanted, so several people did. Some of our friends called Mike, begging him to also put on his pajamas, so he put on a robe over his jeans and t-shirt. The relaxed atmosphere gave it a homey, family feeling, and everyone was all smiles. We sang more carols, people shared some of their favorite Christmas memories, we had prayers for the people, and one of our friends spoke about how the birth of his son had changed the way he looked at Christmas this year. It was very sweet. I know that the way that I look at Christmas has changed over the years as more and more of my friends have babies. We also got to goof off a little with baby Isaac during the service as his dad stuck him between us while we were singing, “What Child is This?” What child IS this?

A special time of caring, the ways of love made clear . . .

After church it was on to my parents’ house for lunch and presents and relaxing. We beat them home from church, but we thought my brother was there, so we went ahead and unlocked the door. And realized that the alarm was set. However, I managed to drag the code from the dark corners of my mind so that the police did not have to visit the house on the holiday.

When they got back, we had lunch and then spent two hours opening presents. That’s not an exaggeration, I don’t think. A lot of families seem to do one big thing for Christmas: “I got an iPod!” “I’m going to Europe!” My family does several small things, which means there’s more to open. And we go around the room and each open one present, so it takes a while. Other traditions include my dad saying, “I knew what that was,” after opening each gift, Mike and Joseph using the tools they receive on each consecutive gift (most notable was the year they received magnetic pointers – the kind you can use to pick up a nail you dropped, for example, to test every present that followed for its magnetism. It was our own version of Bill Nye’s “Magnetic or Not?”), Mom getting lots of clothes from Dad, and Joseph needing to wrap his presents that morning. None of us got one big present this year, but we all got some very nice things. Mike’s favorite present was his SnoPal penguin.

You use the things inside the package to make a penguin, kind of like the corncob pipe and button nose you need for a snowman. Mike, for many years, has been a snowman kind of guy, and our tree is covered in snowmen. But suddenly, out of nowhere, he is declaring that he wants to be a penguin guy, that penguins are his new love. This is the official announcement that we have enough snowmen for a while, and if you want to get Mike an ornament (or some pajama pants), you’d better make it penguins. You can see the penguin joy on his face. That joy is real.

The most exciting present of the day was certainly the moment that Joseph, Mike, and I all opened our very own marshmallow guns. At which time we went outside and shot marshmallows at each other for many minutes. Mom even had one of her own and participated in the carnage. While I have no actual pictures of the marshmallow war (because they are on Joseph’s camera), I do have this picture of myself and my gun.

Do NOT mess with me.

The rest of the day was spent watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith (surprisingly entertaining, but it felt too long) and eating Mike’s famous lasagne. Mike and I headed home, where we went to bed, planning to head to the mall in the morning to do a little shopping.

As the shoppers rush home with their treasures . . .

Monday morning was the first time Mike and I had been to the mall together in a long, long time. I hadn’t been mall shopping in ages. I hate shopping. However, we had Christmas money and giftcards to spend, we knew there were going to be sales, and we had specific things we were looking for: we both wanted sweaters, we had BN money, the guilt of not sending out Christmas cards this year led us to buy some on sale, that kind of thing. Overall, I think our trip was very successful – we were home by early afternoon and spent some time watching my new movie (Fever Pitch) and Friends. The one thing Mike and I did sort-of do for Christmas this year was that we used an giftcard and bought seasons 4-8 of Friends. After we received them, we realized that, if we had one more season, we could get a rebate of $50, so Mike bought season 9 at Costco. Not counting the giftcard, do you know how much we paid for six seasons of Friends? $20. We have been working our way through them, watching our favorite episodes and finally getting some of the storylines straight (I never knew how many parents Phoebe has!). I have to admit that we may have overdosed, because I watched a LOT of Friends this weekend.

Yesterday the USPS delivered my Gilmore Girls season 5 DVDs and Mike’s movies. He got March of the Penguins and King Kong, and we watched MotP last night. It helped to feed Mike’s new penguin addiction. Just great.

Overall, we had a peaceful and relaxing holiday, and yesterday was a good day to plan the week’s meals, do lots of laundry, watch the extras on my Gilmore Girls DVDs, iron, watch Friends, and generally chill out. Now it’s back to real life once again.

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