Today is the big day and our kids have been gearing up for it for a very long time. Just one short year ago, I wrote this post about our concern that Hallie wasn't yet able to understand the wonder and joy of Christmas. What a difference a year (lots of social maturity, and a whole bunch of very good therapy) make(s)! This year, Hallie has been infused with the holiday spirit pretty much since Thanksgiving. Both kids were thrilled to light the menorah every night for Hanukkah (and collect their presents and eat their chocolate coins) and sat around singing the songs they learned in school (Hallie even corrected my made-up lyrics to "Oh Hanukkah!" and was amazed at how badly I knew the song). And Lea was and is all about wishing everyone around her a "Happy Hanukkah"! Hallie still refuses to try potato latkes (explaining to her that these are a close, rounder and flatter cousin to her beloved french fries does not really help) but I suppose there's always next year. After all, Hanukkah is all about miracles involving oil, so I don't see why we can't hold out for Hallie to eat a potato pancake bathed in olive oil.
Just as Hanukkah drew to a close, Sharon and I procured our very first live tree. Even though we did not quite make it to the Christmas tree farm to which we envisioned traveling, I think heading down to the guys who sell trees at the corner of our block is nearly as good. It also spared us shivering in the cold while weighing the architectural merits of one six-footer versus another and the harrowing drive back (likely an hour and a half) with a tree strapped to the roof of our SUV. The girls did not seem to mind missing out on either of these experiences.
Hallie was a bit upset, though, when Sharon dragged the tree through our front door. She lay on the couch pouting and when Sharon asked her what was wrong, she replied, "I'm upset mama! Our tree has no lights!" Apparently she thought we'd gotten the cheaper, less flashy model, and that simply would not do. No worries: we had taken care of that problem in advance and had procured some colored LEDs at Target and the tree was winking and shining in no time.
The kids were even more ecstatic the following week when we decorated the tree with ornaments. Our collection, which includes many ornaments that passed down to Sharon from her family, has a nice over-representation of preschool-friendly characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Hallie kept exclaiming things like, "Look, there's Mickey and Pluto!" and "I see a Nutcracker!" (they 'study' the ballet, The Nutcracker, at preschool each year, so Hallie is familiar with the music and the characters). Both kids wanted to help hang the ornaments on the tree and our biggest challenge was slowing them down, not keeping their interest.
Apparently, the kids have been discussing their trees at school. According to one report (we have a lot of spies...er, therapists...at school), Hallie went over to her friends and said, with feeling, "My tree is THIS tall" (as she demonstrated by getting up on her tip toes and reaching for the sky). "And it has Rudolph on top!"
Rudolph is an odd choice for a tree topper, but Hallie said this with such resolve that our spy (Miss Anne) was tempted to believe her. And, indeed, Rudolph's existence as a tree topper can be confirmed:
Anyway, over the past week, the anticipation in this house has been tremendous. First, there was ChristmaHannuKwanzika, which we celebrated last Sunday with the cousins who are off to Disney World tomorrow. Then there was Wednesday night's Holiday Concert and Pot Luck at the YCCA Preschool. The kids had been practicing all of their holiday songs at home for that event, which went swimmingly. I hope to add pictures and description of both later on in a separate post.
But then, yesterday, after we picked up the kids from school for the last time this year, we decided to get the girls back into their holiday dresses and head off to Macy's to visit Dicken's Village and Santa Land.
The kids thought the life-sized rendition of the Dickens story (which was written in 1843. The village has been put up each year since 1985 in Center City Philadelphia) was pretty cool, even if a bit scary (it's peopled by ethereal ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and these ghosts, and the graveyards where they shake their chains and such, are pretty realistic seeming in a haunted house sort of way).
But the lines were long and we forgot to bring snacks, so Lea was a bit cranky by the time she got to Santa's lap. Hallie, however, was excited to see the big guy and jumped up and down. She also happily told him that she'd been a good girl and that she wanted him to bring her a pink camera. He said he'd see what he could do about that.
Of course, the picture we took still has that old reindeer-caught-in-the-headlights quality to it:
Maybe one year we'll get both of them smiling. At least they were fine getting up on Santa's lap and both of them were looking at the camera.
Hallie has taken this Santa thing very seriously. For the past three weeks or so, all I have needed to do is warn her that Santa is watching over her like a hawk right now and is checking his list twice. So if she wants that camera... It's worked like a charm. I am not sure what happens tomorrow, though! I am sure that I am in good company on that one...
Today was a very low-key sort of day. The kids were thrilled to see their grammy, who came to town this afternoon, to mark the official opening of Christmas Celebration 2010.
We broke open the Gingerbread House kit for the occasion. Hallie, who has been enthralled with the Hansel and Gretel story of late (though, as in most Hallie-authored rewrites of fairy tales, the witch turns out to be friend, not threat). And one of the parents at school had put together kits for all of the pre-k kids (like Hallie) to make their own mini gingerbread houses, so she'd actually had a bit of practice in building such structures already.
At first things went pretty well for Sharon, who, as a Registered Architect, was put in charge of the project:
Even this was a Design-Build project, you'll note that our finished product looks nothing like the one on the front of the box. Our architect assures us that it is not her fault:
Hallie was overjoyed to open her Frosty jammies wrapped in a Frosty box covered with Frosty paper.
(Aside: Note Lea's amazing hair in this shot. We have scheduled her first haircut, which will take place on Tuesday, none too soon:
And so it was. The stockings were hung by the bookcase with care in the hopes that Old Saint Nick would be there:
Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Fabulous Festivus to all, and to all a Good Night!