Taking down Christmas

Today, we observe Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the magi. It’s also a family tradition to take down our Christmas tree today. Often, B does most of that work, although I think T and I will help today. It’s always a bit sad to take down the tree, although this is longest time we have ever had a tree up as we got it early in order to have it to celebrate St. Nicholas Day in advance of E and ABC’s holiday trip to London. I was afraid the tree would not last all these weeks, but it has held up well, only shedding a few needles. LEDs help to keep the needles from drying out, as they sometimes did with the old incandescent light strings.

Our tree this year wound up being decorated with mostly non-breakable ornaments. There are a few fragile ones in the top third, safely out of ABC’s reach. She was very interested in the ornaments as they were put up, carrying them around and sometimes taking them back off the tree, but once it was all decorated, she (mostly) left them up.

It is probably just as well that she is still in the UK. When she comes back mid-month, the living room will be back to normal, except with a few new toys and books to strew across the braided rug.
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taking down Christmas

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Yesterday, our church celebrated Epiphany. This is also the day when we usually take down our Christmas tree.

Because this Christmas was somewhat subdued for various reasons, we hadn’t taken any photos.

I did, however, ask B to take the above photo. The carol singers are ones that Grandma, his mom, who passed away in March, had made for us when we were newlyweds to match her own set. B made the church from a kit over thirty years ago. The little Irish church mice are of a similar age.

The barristers and tea cup collection are also inherited from Grandma, with some of the cups originating from prior generations.

The wintry photo is of Main Street in North Adams, Massachusetts and was taken by a shopkeeper sometime in the last decade. We purchased it from him and Grandma displayed it in her cottage at the local retirement village. All four of B’s and my parents came from the North Adams area and he and I grew up near there, too.

It seemed fitting to commemorate Grandma and our family roots in this special corner of our dining room this Christmas.

I expect it to be a new part of our tradition.
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Catching up on the twelve days of Christmas

Today, Catholics celebrate Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the magi to the infant Jesus. Technically, it should be celebrated on Jan. 6th, bringing to a close the famed twelve days of Christmas, but Epiphany gets moved to a Sunday in the modern liturgical calendar. Also, the liturgical season of Christmas extends through the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord the following Sunday.  (Can you tell I spent many years serving in liturgical and music ministry?)

I posted about our Christmas Eve and Day, but haven’t filled in much of the rest of our Christmas observance.  We do try as much as possible to observe Advent as a time of waiting and preparation, even though culturally in the US, most of December is packed with Christmas festivities which end on Christmas Day rather than begin there.

One of the things that helps us extend our celebration of Christmas is the arrival of my sisters and their families after Christmas. This year, they arrived on Dec. 26. We met at my parents’ apartment for food, fun, Christmas cookies, and gift exchange that afternoon and evening, followed by a big dinner at our house on the 27th.

We inherited the making of family dinners when my parents first moved to an apartment about ten years ago. Part of the inheritance came in the form of the electric rotisserie that I remember from my childhood, on which we made a traditional rolled beef rib roast. We served mashed potatoes, gravy, popovers, rutabaga which my parents prepared, baked onions, Aussie-style bread which our son-in-law made, and fall vegetable chili, which is made with carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, onion, tomato, and red and white kidney beans.

For dessert, we had four pies:  apple, pumpkin, apple blackberry, and cranberry meringue, an addition to our pie repertoire made by our older daughter and her husband. Four pies may seem like a lot for fourteen people, but we always want to have some left over for breakfast the next morning!

Unfortunately, work schedules and threatening weather intervened and both sisters and family had to return home on the 28th. That left us two days with our older daughter E and son-in-law L before they had to fly home to Honolulu. We went out to lunch at a couple of our favorite local eateries, spent time with the grandparents, and enjoyed quiet times at home.

On the morning of the 29th, we were all up at 4 AM to get ready to bring E and L to the airport for a 6 AM flight to Newark and then on to Honolulu. We wished they could have stayed longer, but were very grateful to have them with us for a week.

I did write about our (sedate) New Year’s Eve and Day, although I did have the excitement of a new poem coming out on Silver Birch Press.

Epiphany is traditionally the day that we take down our Christmas tree, although we were late putting it up this year and it isn’t dropping needles, so maybe we will wait until next weekend. B returns to work on Monday and next week’s calendar is filled with appointments, so it is back to reality, or at least what passes for routine, tomorrow.
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JJJ 2016