First of all, Solstice blessings and Happy Hanukkah – lights are beginning to shine and it’s very needed. And it’s almost Christmas! Are you ready? I pretty much am – just have a few more gifts to wrap and label. The house is a wreck, which doesn’t exactly put me in the holiday spirit – even after I worked my tail off all day on Sunday to try to get things into shape. It’s never enough. Actually, Christmas spirit is in short supply around here. This past week was… not awesome. We’re currently in the midst of a very frustrating – and really sad – issue with our kids’ school. I’m not going to get into details, but we have some decisions to make over the next couple of weeks. Everyone is a little on edge.
I devoted most of the weekend to Christmas preparations. Feeling not particularly sparkly, and rather like Elizabeth von Arnim, I rolled up my sleeves and got the rest of the shopping done on Saturday (nothing like leaving it ’til the last minute, right?) then stood in line at the post office for almost ninety minutes, waiting my turn to send packages off to Rebecca in Florida and my brother in Colorado. When I got home, the best treat was waiting for me – Zan! And she brought wine and cheese! Steve and Paul were watching the Bills game, and Zan and I filled the evening with chat, cooking – I whipped up some broccoli-cheddar soup and had a homemade focaccia waiting for us – and playing with the kids. It was a soul-filling kind of night.
Sunday brought more chores – runs to Target (for stocking stuffers) and the grocery store, then fridge-clearing, more soup-making (green soup this time) and lots and lots and lots of gift-wrapping. Steve took the kids to the playground for a long stretch of the afternoon, which I used to power through my wrapping and to build Peanut’s big Christmas present this year. (Y’all, I am so excited about it and can’t wait to show you. It was a labor of love, and I hope it makes her morning.) I finished just in time to join the fam and revive a Christmas tradition that Steve and I used to enjoy back in our DINK days (that’s Dual Income No Kids for you uninitiated): a walk around Old Town Alexandria to admire the Christmas decorations, followed by – what else? – WINE. Well, this year I had wine – Chianti, to be specific. Steve had a spiced chai stout that tasted like Christmas in a glass, and the kids had lemonade, and we paired our beverages with bruschetta and pizza from our favorite neighborhood pizza joint. Nothing better. And I begin to feel a tiny twinge of Christmas spirit.
Reading. Despite feeling a little grinchy this season, my reading is as festive as it gets. It was a busy week with a couple of late nights at work, and that always spells less reading time – but what time I had, I spent on my Christmas pile. Most of the week was dedicated to The Santa Klaus Murder, which I really enjoyed. And I guessed the killer – again! I’m on a roll lately. Over the end of the week, and most of the weekend, I read Home for the Holidays in snatches, just whenever I could, and finally finished it up on Sunday evening. I just love those book club girls. Then finally, still trying to perk up, I picked up the absolutely gorgeous Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories. I’ve never actually read any Noel Streatfeild, despite Kathleen Kelly’s enthusiastic recommendation of the “Shoe books.” Glad to be finally correcting that omission.
Watching. The best watching this week was live – Steve and I saw Amadeus at the Folger Theatre on Thursday night. I’ve always wanted to see a show in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s traditional Elizabethan theatre, and the production of Amadeus was absolutely wonderful. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, and it was gorgeously acted. I loved every second, and promptly downloaded an album of Daniel Barenboim, my favorite pianist, playing Mozart’s piano sonatas.
Listening. Lots of podcasts, per usual – I’m really enjoying the holiday episodes of all my favorites. And they kept me good company while I was running errands and wrapping gifts this weekend. For the highlight, you’ll have to scroll down – it’s “loving” material this week.
Making. Plenty of cooking! The aforementioned broccoli-cheddar soup and homemade rosemary focaccia were the main things, and as I also noted, I whipped up a batch of green soup – everybody likes nutrients. I also made a pile of wrapped presents (Steve is making out like a bandit this year) and Peanut’s big gift, which was something I had to both build and assemble. Are you curious yet?
Blogging. I actually don’t know what I’m going to blog this week. I usually have my posts pre-scheduled, but this is going to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of week. I’m actually planning to take it mostly off from the blog, but I will pop in on Wednesday and Friday with a picture or two, maybe a poem, who knows.
Loving. For your listening pleasure this week, I have two things. First, if you have been living under a rock and have not yet seen the Von Trapp great-grandchildren singing Edelweiss, what are you waiting for? This video is seven years old, so clearly I am one of those people living under a rock, but it seems to be having a moment – several of my friends shared it on Facebook this week. It will renew your faith in humanity. And second, my favorite podcast episode of the week was the second I’ve listened to from the Historic Royal Palaces Podcast, which I’ve only recently encountered – and it was a good one: Dr. Annie Gray hilariously recapping six hundred years of British Christmas dinner traditions. There is literally no more entertaining companion for gift-wrapping than Dr. Gray – I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Whether she was tossing off recipes, discussing bawdy Medieval carols or Queen Victoria (“all those disgusting children… she hated the children”) Dr. Gray’s history of Christmas dinner was madcap and just good fun. I was laughing out loud the entire hour as I slapped scotch tape on the kids’ Christmas packages.
Asking. What are you reading this Christmas week?