Chanukah came super early this year, so it was actually part of our Thanksgiving celebrations, and we got our Yule tree up the day after Thanksgiving — so really we’ve been celebrating for over a month now. But cookie-making for neighbors and extended family gifts has become our official/traditional Yule kick-off, and this year was no different. What was different this year was that we included Star Wars themed cookies in our holiday line-up, so among the bells and trees and snowmen and candy canes there were Millennium Falcons and Death Stars as well. Galactic Holiday Spirit!
Next we set about decorating glass ornaments for more gifts using suspension paint and glass bulbs I’ve had in storage for well over a decade. Fortunately all was still perfectly usable and the ornaments turned out simply gorgeous!
Echo also made some clay sculptures for gifts this year. She formed and painted them herself and sent them out with our holiday boxes. This one is a Scrub Jay, but she also made a dog, a heart, and even a bear for me.
Finally Yule came. And though, as is our yearly tradition, the gifts began trickling out from under the tree on the Solstice, when Christmas day arrived there was something new that didn’t fit under the tree at all… Stella the baby giraffe!
This year, Echo received a compass she’s been wanting, so we took it along on the hike, and she periodically checked our heading…
We also gauged where our house was in the valley below and figured out what direction it was in from where we stood on the hill. … while Natalie and Henry took some selfies.This year, we also added Kwanzaa into our line-up of celebrations, and took the opportunity to teach the girls about this wonderfully community-oriented African-American holiday. One of my favorite parts is the “ear of corn for each child in the family”. The elder girls came for the second week of their school holidays this year, so right after Christmas we kinda started over with celebrating! Here, Bella is checking out her stocking.And Xideka marveled over this giant nutcracker that Santa had brought her.We decided to do a Re-Christmas after the elder girls arrived and so arranged to get up all together the next morning and open some gifts and eat holiday bread, etc., etc.. Xi gave Natalie and I this poem she wrote (which I think is hilarious) as part of the gift she wanted us to open first.
The grandparents really nailed it this year with a slew of things for each girl that meshed perfectly with their current interests. Bella was stoked to get a pile of Beatles paraphernalia.
Xi was also thoroughly pleased with everything she got this year, but this is my favorite shot of her present-opening. Echo also received numerous things she loves, but this unicorn got a special snuggle during Re-Christmas. The Beatles blanket that Bella still hasn’t taken off… More Nature-loving accoutrement for Echo…And üuuuuuu…flannel-lined jeans…
Not to mention local, buttery-soft ceramics!The Re-Chirstmas array, fully splayed.
Xi getting to work on weaving bracelets with the new kit…We ended up creating our own holiday re-phrasing to go with our re-do of the big day — Meh, Re-Christmas! — which seemed to perfectly capture our relaxed feelings about how everything proceeded that day as well as provide multiple opportunities for silliness. In the evening, we put together the gingerbread house that Natalie had made from scratch a few days previous.
After wishing a “Meh, Re-Christmas to All”, and all having a good night, we got up the next day and celebrated Bella’s birthday. Her (gulp!) 13th birthday…! Natalie, of course, made a stupendous cake, as per Bella’s request. And the Beatles theme kept right on going…Then after a couple more days of opening another present or two, and nights of continued snuggling up and playing and reading and listening to music together, it was New Year’s Eve. Natalie had to crash by 11pm, but the girls all stayed up until midnight, though Echo kept trying to bail in the last 15 minutes. We had a fire, roasted marshmallows, and wrote out wishes, intentions, and thankfuls to throw into the flames. Then on New Year’s Day, we opened the last of the presents (in keeping with our Yule traditions, and also in line with celebrating Kwanzaa), then we set about making one more feast. The girls helped with their favorites, I made two kinds of yams — both the Hippy version (in progress below) and Gramma’s recipe whipped-and-candied style (with marshmallows on top!) — and Natalie magically manifested the rest. Then we ate and ate and ate with glee (who arrived early and stayed late…).Of course, I’ve left out the hours of reading new books, playing with new toys, talking with and enjoying one another, and everything else between the moments above, but I think you get the picture(s). All in all, it was about as good as you can get for a week’s worth of holiday-ing together.
Bon Yule, Joyous Kwanzaa, Meh Re-Christmas, and Happy 2014 to you all, and with much love from the McTague family!