Later in the day, after baking loaves of bread (me) and creating cranberry sauce and bread pudding (Mr. Neo), we joined our good friends for a feast at their home. Their four children almost match in age with ours, making the day joyful for everyone involved. The youngest chased, gamed, and giggled themselves into naps, while the oldest joined the adults for hilarious conversation. Also joining us were Padre Michael and Francisco who were visiting from their home in the mountains of Guatemala. Beginning several years ago, our church parish has been "twinned" with their church parish. We provide support and aid, when needed, as well as pray with and for their congregation. Classic Rock, well into his third year of Spanish, was able to converse very well with our friends. Our hostess speaks fluent Spanish and teaches the language at both the middle school and university levels. She was wonderful at translating back and forth during the day. Padre Michael was quite amused that my three years of Catholic high school Spanish yielded only the ability to ask for a cold beer, locate a bathroom, and recite the Daily Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A prayer that I noted I didn't even know in English. His amusement was that it wasn't a prayer he was familiar with, either :)
Amazingly, they weren't hungry at dinnertime, but were famished for dessert!
The Friday after Thanksgiving marks our family's official start to Christmas with the appearance of our elf, Sweeney. We don't use him to threaten good behavior, but to heighten the excitement of the season. He started the year with a soothing bubble bath:
photo by Jazz as part of her Girl Scout badge homework
We made our cookies and gathered for cocoa, laughter and wish lists. Our children came to understand many years ago that asking and receiving were in no way related. They can wish for the moon - or in Jazz's case this year a real horse - but will receive what is most appropriate. Sorry, babe, no horse this year!
We celebrated the first day of Advent a bit early since I had been scheduled to sing at our parish's 5 PM Mass Saturday evening. Our gathering hymn is the one I've chosen for this blog post, the Advent Gathering Song. Eastern Mennonite University has put together a beautiful version of it here. I find myself humming it all day now.
As Mass proceeded and we shared in the blessing and lighting of the Advent wreath, Irish Jig started to melt down. A series of long days and too much sugar did not combine well with sitting on the first pew while Mama sang. I started to hear a bit of whining while I stood at the microphone waiting to sing various responses during the consecration. The whining got louder and I quickly peeked behind me to see Classic Rock holding a fiesty Irish Jig. Just as I was preparing to signal Mr. Neo with the "take her out NOW" distress code, I heard that little tinny voice announce:
"It's a boogie! A boogie on my finger! Take it off! Take it off!"
As the pew behind them erupted in laughter, I grabbed a tissue (thankfully nearby) and cleaned up the offending finger. The musicians proceeded to shake with laughter as we not so gracefully slipped into the Lamb of God....
I hope the start to your family's Advent was just as memorable, if not a tad more prayerful.