We had a nice holiday break here--a little bit of resting, a little bit of straightening up the house and doing chores, a little bit of visiting with friends, a little bit of visiting with family. It's been a nice mix of doing some of the things we don't normally get to do when we're busy-busy with work.
(Here's Dexter playing at a holiday concert--one of three he played this year!)
We instituted a new practice at mealtimes in 2009: we hold hands, and each of us says what we're thankful for in our day. We used to do this only on special occasions--Thanksgiving and Christmas, mostly--but I realized that if I want us to be aware of what we have and what we should notice and be grateful for, perhaps we needed to articulate that more than twice a year.
The side effect that I like the most is that, on a bad day, when we're cranky or frustrated or sad about something, this activity makes us find something to feel good about. It's not that the bad stuff goes away or problems are solved, but we realize that they're not the only thing that's visited us that day; we've got something to be thankful for every day, something that stands on the other side of the balance, and we have to at least notice it and acknowledge it. That's a really great thing, some days...
Anyhow, with gratitude being a more visible presence in our life, it was easy to see this year that Christmas presents were the icing on the cake--something we definitely didn't need, but something we were happy to enjoy. And I have to say, it was especially magical this year that each of us got something we really, really wanted (the thing at the top of the "dear Santa" list) and something we really were happy to get even though we didn't expect it (something not on the list but definitely right for us).
I didn't get photos of everything, but here are some highlights...
Patrick has some helper-friends who are very cute--one new, one an antique.
This is one of my favorite gifts--a mini Turkish spindle, hand made my Ed Jenkins. It's a thing of beauty all by itself, and then it makes beautiful yarn as well!
Here's another of my faves:
Bobbins for my spinning wheel! Yay! My gifts seemed to have mostly followed the fiber-and-chocolate theme this year. Awesome!
Speaking of fiber, we didn't have any hay for the baby Jesus's crib this year, so we gave him some wool roving:
(Every once in a while, we come down in the morning to discover that someone has "rearranged" it...)
Even the cats loved their presents!
(Apparently, the kitchen table is a popular place for toys to try to elude their feline predators... but it never works.)
Poor Dexter--he was the one person whose knitting gift I did not finish in time. Here's how far I got by Christmas morning on the socks he specially requested & picked out the yarn for:
He's being patient, thank goodness. I've started the 2nd sock by now, but even if I went by the "Christmas has 12 days" rule, I don't think I'll be finished in time. Oh well. He seems to be sufficiently distracted from this shortcoming by playing "Spore," a computer game in which you evolve from a single-celled being to a space-exploring civilization (I use the term loosely).
All in all, it was a fabu Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed some unexpected gifts,
16 hours ago