That's six weeks to savor my favorite time of year, and to hope it doesn't go by too quickly.
Six weeks to enjoy the colors and lights and music--my favorite part, the music.
Six weeks to pour egg nogg down my gullet until none of my clothes fit anymore. (Maybe this year I won't go quite that far.)
Six weeks to hope the beauty and joy and peace aren't overshadowed by the worst of the tacky commercialism--and six weeks to enjoy the best of the tacky commercialism.
Six weeks to read A Christmas Carol, three or four pages per night, to Anna before bed.
Six weeks to try to be undeterred by all the Scrooges who can't understand why people like me love Christmas so much.
There's a Hobby Lobby only about seven miles from us, and I go there often. They start setting up for Christmas--I'm not making this up--shortly after Independence Day, so I can go there through much of the summer and get a little jolt of Christmas excitement. I've already bought two Christmas tchotchkes from them, including this love-filled Snow Man:
This afternoon, Jessica decided to read to Elyse and me from the Bible (which was actually an old issue of Animal Baby). Elyse and I sat on the sofa, and Jessica sat before us on our Fisher Price stool. She told us, "I'm going to tell you the story of Jesus." She opened up her book and began:
"Once there was a manger..."
Jessica's is the only manger-centric gospel I know of.
But maybe there's a lesson that can be learned here: even a manger--which is, after all, only a feeding trough for cows and pigs and donkeys--can be a vessel for the Divine. We would all do well to strive to rise above our usual stations and be put to such noble use.
(To put this story in a little more context: On Fridays, Jessica's class goes to chapel, and I believe this morning Father Doug told them some of the Christmas story. Also, we had been listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing "Away in a Manger," so mangers were on her mind.)
On Friday afternoons Jessica has ballet, so when I pick Elyse up from her preschool class, we have another forty minutes or so before Jessica's ready to go. So far, the weather has been good on those Fridays, so we use the time to walk around the church and play on the playground.
Last Friday I had my camera with me, so I took a few pictures as we went along. Here are four of my favorites:
Last Saturday we drove up to Lookout Mountain, GA, for a weekend vacation. We stayed at the Sky Harbor Bavarian Inn, the same place Jessica and I stayed back in February when we came up for our weekend adventure, and went to Rock City both Saturday and Sunday.
Today was Elyse's first day of school! She's in the Toddlers class at St. Matthew's Preschool, the same class--though with two different teachers--in which Jessica started school three years ago.
We think she's really going to love preschool; she loves playing in the nursery on Sunday mornings, and preschool, in the Toddler's class, anyway, is just a chance to do that for three times as long, more times per week.
She was a little nervous when I left her, but she didn't cry, and she got comfortable and started playing fairly quickly. Ms. Jill and Ms. Nan told me that Elyse spent the whole morning taking care of the various babies in the room (the pretend kind, not her classmates). That didn't surprise me, since lately she's been very concerned with her babies at home, and sometimes has two or three under her care at once. (It's especially cute when she makes crying noises for one of them, then picks her up and gives her a big hug and pats her back and says, "'K, 'K.")
When I came to pick her up, she gave me a big smile and pointed at me and hopped up to go; she even knew to go get her backpack before we left (though she couldn't quite reach the hook on which it hung, so she just pointed at it and made urgent noises at me).
It was a very emotional morning for me, naturally, but fortunately today was the first day of the English 1101 section I'm teaching at Gwinnett Tech this semester, so I had that to keep me from worrying the whole time about how Elyse was doing (even though I knew she would be doing just fine).
Here are some pictures we took this morning, after the girls had gotten dressed but before we had to leave to be there:
(Elyse was not nearly as cooperative as these pictures suggest. Jessica did a great job of acting as a child wrangler and helping me get some good pictures.)