We did a few Christmas activities through December – though we’re sort of on the hunt for traditions to call our own.
We hit the local live nativity, put on by the Faith Baptist church. It’s probably the most organized and friendly event this size that was not a football game I’d ever seen (note: I’m not a member of Faith Baptist). When we drove in they directed us to a specific parking spot, directed in by an attentive 12-year old. Everyone told us where to go, which checkpoint to go to next, and told us Merry Christmas. It was freezing, snowing during our quick 14-minute or so trip round the church to each of the stations. Our 4-year old daughter, Min, took the whole thing very seriously – after a couple of attempted explanations (“Sweetie, that’s the Garden of Eden, that’s Adam…”) she told us not to talk to her until it was over. There were CD players with explanations at each stop. When we tried to teach, for example with some of the more abstract set pieces, she would say “Remember what I told you?” So we waited. The best one, for my money (it was free), was the nativity itself – there was no dialogue, no acting, just a kind of cold and worried looking young couple and a plastic baby in a dark little manger, off in the corner of the lot. I probably read too much into it but wondered, realistically, how the night felt for Mary and Joseph and how they probably didn’t have all sorts of visitors that night and went through all of those emotions new parents have where they worry, are grateful, happy, overwhelmed, sad, tired. The cruxifiction scene was fairly tastefully done, with three crosses facing away from the visitors, wooden thieves and Jesus, a weeping Mary, and some naysayers there giving wooden Jesus grief. This was affecting for Min, who said it was one of her favorite parts, another kid we met in the commuinity center said the same thing and was working through that they were made of wood, so the blood on the wood legs was fake. Kids seem to zoom in on gore and tragedy. One of the highlights, honestly, was that when we were done and had some cookies and chocolate and got to our car, is that we were out of the lot in about 4 minutes. Those guys have their stuff together.
We also hit the Children’s Museum on the 23rd and saw Santa. Hoorah. It took about 50 minutes in line, so Mary went in and out with the kids while I stood in line and made periodic light conversation with the couple behind us. Santa himself had a real white beard (which one would expect, I guess) and took his time talking to Min, who pretty much didn’t know what to do with herself. He was pretty good. She put her wish list in his sleigh and we moved on.
As far as the Christmas itself – we dialed down on gifts to the parents and focused on making sure the kids got what they wanted (that Santa knew about it) mainly out of lack of energy or time to shop, mainly. Maybe next year we’ll try something a friend suggested, just three gifts for the kids to represent the gifts of the magi, to combat the ever-increasing feeling of riding a consumerist avalanche through the month. One gift I did get from my kids (I’m told on good authority from the Goodwill) was a dog and squirrel, representing my kids, who I referred to as a squirrel and little puppy as toddlers. So finally I have something to decorate my office at work.