As many of you know – I have two sets of grandchildren:
1.) The right-here, music-producer kids.
2.) The up-north preacher kids.
The two oldest girls are seven weeks apart.
The middle girls are eight months apart.
The boys are nine months apart.
Of course, I get to see the right-here kids more than the up-north kids, but I still see the up-north kids quite a bit.
In fact, we just had a quick 24-hour visit (with a lot of cousin-bonding) before they once again had to head up north. I’ll share some more pictures soon, but here’s an “all-six” picture I took last night.
You might remember that the munckins decorated my Thanksgiving table with Hershey bars – wrapping them in “I am thankful for …” paper, expecially designed for each member of our family.
Lauri, my friend in Pennsylvania, and a regular blog reader, saw those Hershey bars and remembered them. For Christmas she did her own Hershey bar craft with the multitude of kids with whom she works each week and had some leftover supplies! Ta da! She thought of me and my Hershey-bar designing grandchildren. So she hopped in her car and drove out to Chicago to hand deliver them to me.
And this is what we did with them.
First we wrapped each Hershey bar in beautiful, sparkly wrapping paper.
Then we covered it was a plain piece of paper that was imprinted with a snowman face and buttons. (You could draw your own and individualize each snowman.) I also made labels on the computer that said “Happy New Year” to fasten the back of the snowman paper.
Next we took a small piece of polar fleece and made several cuts in it that were about 2.5 inches long. (We made four or five cuts.)
Next – we made a 3/4″ fold on one end and glued it to make a hat brim.
We wrapped the folded end around the snowman’s head and glued it.
Then we tied a small piece of ribbon at the base of your “fringe” to form the shape of a hat.
We added a snowflake sticker to the hat. (You could also add a bell.)
For a final touch, wrap a polar fleece strip around the middle of the snowman for a scarf.
In the middle of the Christmasing and breakfasting (hey, great fun with Lauri yesterday at Egg Harbor and with Carol today at Panera), I’ve been reading a fascinating and sad book called The Girls of Room 28.
I have read books about the hardships of the Jews during World War 2: Corrie ten Boom, Anne Frank and many other books about lesser known, but still persecuted people.
In the midst of the concentration camps was a place called Theresienstadt (sometimes called Terezin).
The Nazis presented the town as a model Jewish settlement and sent the well-known musicians, artists, authors, diplomats, scientists and actors to Theresienstadt. So many musicians were housed at the camp, that there were four concert orchestras, chamber groups and jazz ensembles. Plays were acted out with regularity.
These people, experts in their fields, were assigned to teach the children. They taught the children in all areas of education including drawing and music. (More than 6,000 of the drawings were hidden and recovered after the war.) They even acted and produced a children’s opera. If you go on iTunes and enter the word “Terezin” you will find a long list of music composed by the Jewish musicians imprisoned at the camp.
The Girls of Room 28 is the story of one room in the children’s barracks. Much of it told through the point of view of a young girl named Helga who kept a journal of her life in Theresienstadt. Counselors were assigned to the children – often adults who had some experience in the real world, so the children’s world at Theresienstadt was orderly and disciplined with high educational standards.
In 1944 the Nazis invited the Red Cross to visit Theresienstadt to prove to the world that the camps were healthy places, brimming with culture. They built shops and filled them with beautiful clothing and other items (not mentioning that much of what was in the shops was stolen from the Jews whom they’d captured). To make the place look less crowded – more than 7,000 Jews were sent to Aushwitz and gassed. The visit was so successful, the Nazis then decided to make a film about the settlement. After the shooting of the film the crew, cast and producer were also sent to Aushwitz.
More than 140,000 Jews were sent to Theresienstadt during the war. Thirty three thousand died on site because of hunger and disease. Another 88,000 were went to Aushwitz. The Nazis might have told the world that they had a model village where children happily played and attended school and sang beautiful music, but the truth is quite different.
More than fifteen thousand children lived at the Theresienstadt during the course of the war.
Approximately 150 survived.
The book, written by Hannelore Brenner tells the story from the children’s point of view.
Before Christmas I bought several small gifts from one store. When I got to the counter, the clerk offered to wrap them for me and, knowing that this particular store has unique packaging, I agreed. The clerk cheerily went about her task. The store was very unbusy and no one was waiting, so she took her time and made the wrapping as fancy as possible.
Several days later I decided not to divide the gifts as originally planned, so I unwrapped them – and was glad I did when I found the price tags still on every single one of the gifts. Having the giftee know the prices of the gifts would not have been the end of the world, but these were more formal than family gifts and I truly did NOT want the price tags on them. Knowing most stores make a big deal about taking off the prices, I was surprised that these tags were still in place.
But I discovered the error in time – no big deal. It didn’t make me think less of the cheerful clerk or the store – in fact, I went back to the store today.
As I was buying my purchase, I kindly mentioned the price-tag thing. “I’m so glad I caught it,” I told the lady. “I’m not upset, but in this situation I did not want the prices on the gifts. Normally stores are careful about that, so I thought I’d let you know so you can be aware of it.”
“Well, we get busy around Christmas,” she said with as much interest as a doorknob. (Might be true, but you weren’t busy THAT day.)
She refused to say another word about it. She gave me my purchase and went to talk to another clerk about Saturday night plans.
Funny. I did not have any feelings of anything toward the girl who wrapped the packages, but the girl today made me not want to shop there again.
Here’s the truth. Overlooking a mistake is easy. Overlooking attitude is hard.
The 5yo munchkin was set up by my front door, happily nintendoing while the 7yo and 10yo offered to help me shovel the driveway – yet again. This time there was only an inch or so of snow, so we got the job done quickly and they then proceeded to shovel paths through my front yard and had a lot of fun doing it.
So after a very snowy, and therefore soaking wet half hour – I herded them back inside. I sent the 10yo up to dry her hair and wrapped the 7yo in one of my fluffly, pink sweaters to keep her warm while I dryed her socks and jeans. I then decided to throw their coats in the dryer for 10-15 minutes.
I headed upstairs, built a fire and made all three munckins hot chocolate. They happily settled in front of the fireplace.
We read together and talked together and discussed life – and then I headed back downstairs to check the coats.
I knew I had a problem as soon as I opened the dryer because the first things I saw were five crayons and a well-washed butterscotch lollipop. I admit it. I never thought about checking pockets.
I should have taken a picture of the coats to prove what a mess this was AND a picture of the inside of my dryer. The coats had literally hundreds of melted-crayon spots on them – mostly green on the 10yos and purple on the 7yos.
“Oh, no,” I said – which brought the 10yo downstairs to see what was happening.
She crawled up on top of my washing machine and began pulling down all my laundry supplies, reading the labels on Shout (hey, I know the person who invented Shout! Truly, I do.) and Tide and … Tears running down her face as she explained to me that it was her favorite coat ever.
“Look,” I said. “It was an accident. I’ll try to fix this and if I can’t I’ll buy you a new coat.”
“But I want this coat,” she sobbed. (Definitely a scene from a horrific movie.)
“We’ll fix this,” I promised.
She smiled through her tears and became my partner in fixing the problem.
“This says crayon remover.” She held out a bottle of Goo Gone (sometimes known as Goo Be Gone) “And it says it works on clothes.” (I remember buying it after some toddler munchkin used my wall as a whiteboard.)
So, for the next hour and a half I scrubbed literally more than a hundred crayon spots with Goo Gone.
This is the good news – the stuff works.
This is the bad news – my basement smells like Goo Gone.
I finished by goo-goning the culprit pocket and then threw the coats BACK into the washer and dryer – and with the exception of a little color on the furry inside of the 7yos – they look like new (and very clean).
Moral – if you ever throw a coat into a washing machine and forget to take the crayons from the pocket – here’s the product to use.
We had a very laid back – enjoy yourself – don’t worry about anything day.
The son-in-law made a trip to Starbucks to start the morning … (No, I don’t do coffee, but I do hot chocolate.) Good start.
Here’s Jake getting in on the fun.
Kids opened their stockings and then we waited around for my mom and my niece to show up which they did. We opened presents, ate and then watched Miracle on 34th Street. (Had some interesting theological issues.) For some reason this picture of the 7yo just summed up the contentment of a child who has had a good Christmas. (For the record, she did not get both dolls this Christmas. She has had one of them since her 6th birthday.)
One of the 10yos wishes was a grown-up Monopoly game – and that wish was granted by her great grandmother. So to cap off the day I challenged her (and the 7yo). She went from being totally oblivious as to what was happening – to playing with a killer instinct. She is a formidable Monopoly opponent.
So a Merry Christmas was had by all.
And now it is the day after Christmas and mostly today I have shoveled. I went out this morning thinking I would get a head start on the two or three inches we were supposed to get.
Well, eight hours and 12 inches later, it is still coming down and I have shoveled three more times. At least it’s light and it is pretty and I don’t have to go anywhere. So …
Last night the hyper munchkins were hanging out with me. So, being a good grandma, I decided to do with good grandmas do and feed into their hyperness with THE TREE CAKE.
I made a chocolate cake (13×9).
*I saved the six egg shells, rinsed them off and set them on a plate to dry.
*I cut the cake into a tree shape.
*We colored the frosting green and frosted the tree.
*The kids decorated the tree.
*I set the six egg shells on the cake.
*I put a lemon extract-soaked sugar cube into each egg shell.
*I lit the sugar cubes – and TADA! We had a tree with Christmas lights.
(Ok – I’ll admit that this is not a new idea. I used to make my kids a ghost cake every year on Halloween – white cake with flaming eyes. Very effective and to relieve any fears – it did not shake their faith to eat a cake in the shape of a ghost.)
Actually, I already made five batches of candy this year and gave it all away and I promised the munchkins that they could help me make some more. So today we had a candy-making party. We started with a sugar rush of Dunkin Donuts – and then went into batch making. Making this candy is VERY hard and hot on the hands – but all three kids stayed right with us – and kept up with their mom. Plus, I invited an unsuspecting friend to join us – so that was fun, too.
Every year I look for something new about the events in Bethlehem.
So, yesterday I got out some of the old commentaries about the Gospel of Luke and began reading. I found a book which belonged to my dad and thoroughly discussed many of the suppositions about the geneology of Joseph and Mary. For instance, was Joseph the last living descendant of David? The author did not come to conclusions on anything that wasn’t clearly stated in the Bible – but he did discuss different viewpoints. (Another discussion was the age of Joseph. We hear a lot about Mary’s age, but some scholars feel that Joseph might have been at least 100 years old.)
I know that the shepherds were taking care of the sacrifical-temple sheep – but this author brought up a related thought. Shepherds were looked down upon as low class. They were often nomadic, going from one place to another with their sheep. You would not see shepherds in the temple with the important rulers and religious leaders of the day.
However, because these shepherds were raising sheep for the temple, they had access. They needed to bring the lambs to the priests. Remember, the shepherds went away and told everyone what they had seen? Where those shepherds might have gone was to the temple itself. In that case the news of Christ’s birth would’ve quickly spread.
This picture is one I took in Zippori, overlooking the city of Nazareth – it gives a good picture of the hill country in Israel and you can imagine the shepherds taking care of their sheep.
In church this morning, the pastor talked about the person of Christ and many of the songs focused on that aspect of Christmas. We concluded the singing with “In Christ Alone.” As we sang the last verse, the lights went off except for a few candles on the platform. The worship leader then sang “Joy to the World” to the tune of “In Christ Alone.” Very cool.