Snowflakes that is. The boys spent the better part of the afternoon clearing a scrubby hill at the back of our property for sledding. The problem is that we have had no snow. And there is none in the forecast anytime soon. This is so odd for Michigan. I think they are getting all our snow at Our Domestic Church.
Although it was just us for dinner, it couldn't be called small or quiet. Nearly everyone was ravenously hungry after being sick and we made it as nice as we could. After all, it is Jesus' birthday dinner!
Christmas Eve day was quiet but the children all seemed to be feeling better and even played outside in the unusually warm weather. After a light supper they exchanged their Advent Angel gifts, giving a little gift to the person whose name they drew. We read the nativity story from the book of Luke and sang our Advent songs one more time. Then we joyously swung into Christmas carols.
Since they seemed to be on the mend we decided to try midnight Mass this year. Actually our parish has midnight Mass at 11:00 making it a little easier. There is something absolutely beautiful and holy about going into Mass on Christmas eve and coming out into the frosty, cold darkness in the early moments of Christmas morning. The children all did well and no one even fell asleep. (Though it turns out one of the children wasn't as recovered as we had thought.)
Christmas morning began when the younger children woke us up at 8:30.
There were gifts in their stockings to open first. Those were their individual gifts. Some of the children surprised mom and dad with our own homemade stockings filled with homemade gifts. So very sweet.
Under the tree were group gifts. There was something for everyone to open. Toys and games for older, younger, boy and girl, but all the gifts were for all the kids. This is the first year we did this and it went really well.
Breakfast was an egg, sausage strata and cranberry bread. Afterwards, the babies napped while mom and dad crashed on the couch.
My little ones are in bad shape. I can't keep anything in them. Last night I was pretty sure we were on the edge of needing IVs for them. This morning the Pedialite stayed in long enough to do them some good.
In a family, there are so many graces and blessings within a crisis .
The last two days, and maybe today, it's 'all hands on deck', or 'beat to quarters' as my 13 year old says. The 5 year old had the fetch and carry job all day. I can't believe how many dishes my 7 year old did. How much laundry my 10 year old did, it was non-stop. (At one point, we had gone through nearly all of Maria's clean clothes.) The 11 and 13 year olds cleaned up way more than their share of toxic body fluids while momma took care of the sickies. Often they took care of a sickie when there were two in need at once. Even the sick toddlers were quick to slide off the lap of whoever was holding them to pat the back and head of the other as they threw up.
When your children are sick it is the easiest possible way to practice the corporal works of mercy and see the face of Jesus in the needy. In the quiet of the night you have plenty of time and plenty to offer up for the needs of others. It's such a minor trial compared to what some of my friends are facing.
And when you surrender all your plans and ideals and are relying on the grace of God for each moment, you realize that God wants you there even in the best of times. You can feel His love and mercy in such a powerful way.
Any food that could be prepared ahead of time, is. The house is pretty clean and picked up. We were even going to get the kitchen painted. We were so close to having that 'perfect Christmas celebration' that I think I'm going to pull off every year...
The children are sick. Very sick. And only 2 so far. Maybe, by some miracle, they will be better by tomorrow and no one else will get it. Ya. I can still clean and be ready. (Without the painting happening.)
Or we will just have a quiet Christmas without the extended family.
Either way, we will rejoice in the incarnation and all the gifts our Lord has given us for His own birthday.
The house is quiet, loads of laundry got done and quite a bit of Christmas food prep. Kevin even felt well enough to do a few errands. Now most of the last minute shopping is finished. (Why are the stocking stuffers the last thing I think about?) And the best part of all... I read some Christmas books snuggled under the tree with my little elves.