Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditions

This is an exciting year for us! My friends, with whom the children and I usually spend Christmas Eve, have to be away on some emergency family business. At first the girls were disappointed -- especially because they have a 15 foot high tree with a train that runs around it -- but I explained that this was an opportunity for us to develop our own Christmas Eve traditions and they can be whatever we like. Staying up until midnight playing board games and drinking eggnog, eating dinner in our pajamas... anything we want. I also told them we could decide where to put our stockings. This is a new house for us, and there are nail holes in the mantel, but I was thinking of a different idea. I read or heard somewhere about a tradition where the children placed their stockings at the foot of their bed. When they woke up in the morning and opened their eyes, there was a bulgy stocking full of surprises to discover. It kept the kids in their rooms for a bit, before waking Mom & Dad, I'm sure. But also think, how nice it would be to wake up to CHRISTMAS right there in your own bed! When I was a girl we would have to stay upstairs and we could only peek down the steps and catch a glimpse of those tantalizing stockings, waiting for all the adults to be awake and ready to go down with us. So I think we'll do stockings on beds this year.

For the first time, I get to make a special Christmas Eve dinner for the girls and I. (Tomorrow we are having lunch with my family, then the children go to their dad's house for a week and I will be traveling to visit relatives.) How exciting! At first I felt overwhelmed at the idea of coming up with new traditions and a fancy dinner, but here's the plan.

Roast Game Hens with Pineapple Glaze
buttercup squash

For dessert: cheesecake with a mixed berry sauce

For Christmas morning breakfast: cheese blintzes with the remaining berry sauce, oatmeal with sliced almonds, homemade yogurt

The yogurt is in the crockpot now. Leah is happily helping me clean the house. Sweeping, swiffering, spraying and wiping down the sink and counters with Dr. Bronner's, and washing the walls with Murphy's Oil Soap are all jobs that she adores. She just loves to be active! After we spruce up, we will get the stockings out of their storage bin, pack away the wrapping paper and other gift wrap items that have been all over the living room lately, and start making our fancy dinner.

I'm keeping an eye on the weather in preparation for my driving trip.

What to do on those quiet days of vacation? I'm packing knitting projects and thinking about curriculum planning. I have a new idea of making a list of chapter and picture books that could be read in chronological order by time period to help children better have a sense of U.S. (or your own country) and/or World History. This came to me when we were reading Audubon's biography and the author was describing, quite vividly, people's reactions to seeing a steamship for the first time. My students were also stunned that he and his love would hold up giant chalked messages for each other across the valley that separated them. Imagine, a world with no text messages! In The Evolution of Calpurnia Tatemention is made of a kerosene driven fan, the first telephone coming to town, drinking Coca-Cola for the first time, and seeing an automobile. It would be wonderful to come up with a series of read alouds that helped give children an experience of how the world changed -- in order of events -- instead of putting these pieces together haphazardly.

Anyway, that's my idea, and to start it off I would have Lucy Fitch Perkin's The Cave Twins

Forgotten Books, the publisher, has a nice website where you can view a list of their titles and also read many online and download free ebooks in PDF format.

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