Saturday, December 27, 2008


We had planned to have J's family join us for Christmas and New Year's this year, but it didn't work out. On Saturday night we found out they couldn't come. Sunday, the mission president, his wife, and daughter came by and invited us to spend Christmas Eve with them. I was hesitant at first because I didn't want to intrude on their family celebration, but we decided in the end to accept their invitation. I'm so glad we did!

This family is exceptional in many ways--too many to go into here. They have eight children, all grown now except their youngest daughter, who is thirteen and has Down Syndrome. Georgie has become friends with her and she is an absolute delight. She follows an impressive and inspiring physical regimen every day, including a three-mile run and LOTS of monkey bars. She sings and dances. She can read. Most impressive, however, is her loving spirit. She is a joy to be around.

The mission family had a married son, his wife, and their baby there, plus two college-age children, a son and daughter. Four missionaries and two other people were there too. I kicked myself all night for not having brought my camera. When we first got there they did a funny skit--something about the Grinch and missionary work. The mission president's wife is a wonderful actress! Then Santa Claus came out and gave gifts. I would have loved to have the camera when J sat on Santa's lap. Darn!

Dinner was delicious. I had never tasted turducken, and now I'm a convert.

After dinner Georgie and Lidia played some duets together and were much celebrated. After that the mission president's children and our children acted out the nativity story. It was so sweet! Bernie was Mary, and she took her role very seriously. I saw someone taking photos of that, so maybe I can get some copies.

Next we participated in one of their family traditions. For each birthday, everyone in the family pays a compliment to the person whose birthday it is. For Christmas Eve, they all compliment the Savior, so that is what we did. It was a beautiful way to end the evening.

I was so glad to have the opportunity to get to know this family a little better. They seem to be such an interesting mix of serious and fun. The children seem to be very accomplished in a variety of ways and they are very serious about the Gospel. But they are certainly not wet blankets! They seemed to be on good behavior while we were there but I saw some glimpses of potential rowdiness. I talked at length with the college-age daughter and she gave her mom the credit for always making their family traditions fun and exciting. I think I have some improvement to make in that area. I'm always saying that I'm a boring person. Really, I am. Most people would find me boring, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest. However, I don't want my family to think I'm boring. I want us to have fun together, and not just my kind of nerdy "fun."

Today I saw photos some friends took of their Christmas Eve celebration. This happens to be another family with eight children, all over eighteen except the youngest, though it looked like they had six of the eight there. They moved to London in August and they rented a cottage in the Lake District for Christmas. Of course they had all kinds of incredible photos of the scenery, but they also had a few pictures taken of their "British murder mystery"-themed Christmas Eve. It doesn't seem likely that this particular activity is a tradition of years. But after years of knowing this family, I know that fun is a tradition. I can see myself aspiring and in some way accomplishing something like that--maybe we won't do the same things every single year, but we can make sure we do something fun Christmas Eve. Something memorable. Maybe we can manage a few skits. Though I haven't done much of that with my kids and didn't do it in my home growing up, it was an ancestral tradition. Here is a photo of the Haseltines all ready to put on a play for the grange. (What grange hall was that, anyone know?) As you can see, this wasn't the most politically correct of plays, but cut them some slack. It must have been the early 50s. My grandmother is the one seated on the far right, holding a baby (my mother, I think?) in her arms.


Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Yeah! "Politically Correct" is not a word Gram is too acquainted with! Haha! That baby on the far left is cracking me up! That is awful.

We always had a really peaceful Christmas Eve. We put on the Nativity scene, and we eat a quiet dinner and sing songs. The kids usually end up going to bed fairly early - around nine or so. Really though, that is my favorite part of the Christmas season. I also like singing "O, Come, All Ye Faithful" in the morning before we open presents.

ML said...

I enjoyed reading this post--it's interesting to see how different people celebrate and the traditions they form.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know what turducken was but I do know what Pandora's cushion is. I've seen it done on BBC cooking shows a lot but its a goose with chicken and quail.

That little black baby is a doll and was made for the play.

ProMom said...

In the "Little House on the Prairie" stories, Pa Ingalls was always going to Grange meetings. I thought the Grange was the farmer's association. Anyone else know?

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I love how each family finds what traditions work for them. The family photo is great! I wonder what skit/play they were doing? The "black" baby is hilarious! Reminds me of the old cartoons.

Anonymous said...

Yes, dear, that is me in all of my bald-headed glory! ...mum