Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nativity with Two Dead Sheep

Today is Christmas Eve. We spent the late afternoon and early evening with friends Felicity, Laurellee, Juan Carlos, Toddler Javier, and Baby Andres. For our meal together I served a big pot of Borscht (a beautiful red soup filled with beets, cabbage, and tomatoes) with sour cream, brie and baguettes, a veggie platter with tomatoes, carrots and broccoli, spinach dip, red grapes, and clementines. And fried potatoes and eggs. And for dessert, hot chocolate, candy canes, and chocolate chip cookies (courtesy of friends Michelle & Byron, who gave us the dough as a gift).

After eating and clearing the table, we sat down to have what Dan kept calling "Our Christmas Program." In my family growing up, the Christmas Eve tradition included a big meal with friends (check), followed by a reading of the nativity in Luke, interrupted every verse or two by a movement to the piano where we would sing a Christmas hymn. Tonight, instead of reading from the scriptures, I opted for a board book recently sent to us by Dan's mom. Maybe that was my first mistake. I was thinking the board book would hold the kids' attention better than the actual scriptures, but nothing seemed to be able to hold my boys' attention short of OPENING PRESENTS, which I kept telling them they couldn't do. Unfortunately for me, Dan had told them they COULD each open a present, and so they won out in the end. You can see them opening their presents in the picture above. Javier is attempting to open Esther's present, who was conveniently sleeping in the other room. Much to Adam's dismay (which he expressed freely), the presents they selected were matching ties. Yes, ties. Dan was so excited because he had found them little ties in the Land's End catalog that looked just like the ones Harry Potter wears at Hogwarts. He thought the boys would love them. Adam said they were very boring and he had wanted something he could play with. To this, Eli responded that they could play with them, whenever they were pretending to be students at Hogwarts.

So, back to our lovely Christmas Eve Program. I sat in a chair facing the children, who were on the rug. I opened the board book and began to read about Mary and the visitation of the Angel Gabriel. I stopped at the end of the page and asked what song we could sing. Eli suggested "Mary, Mary" from the Children's Songbook. I was pleased with his suggested, and Dan began to play. It only took a few bars to realize that none of our guests knew the song. So it was a bit hollow sounding, but we moved on.

The next part of the book was about Mary and Joseph's trip to Bethlehem. At that point, Eli wanted to sing, "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" but I knew our guests didn't know that, either, so I suggested "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" instead. Just as Dan started to play, the phone rang. As I was leaving the living room to answer it, I could see Felicity standing up to go stand by the piano so that she could follow along in the hymn book. Here I must interject that several months ago, we took our hymn book to the church and left it there accidentally. Since then, whenever we want to play the hymns, we have to use Dan's German hymn book. That is what Dan was using, so it didn't turn out to be much help to Felicity who, like most people in this country, doesn't read German. The phone was for Dan, and the song wasn't going too well, so he went to the kitchen to take the call. While he was gone, our little program continued to deteriorate.

Dan came back and we tried to get going again. The boys were being kind of crazy, and things weren't turning out as fuzzy and warm as I had pictured them. I remembered that when I was little, we liked to act out the nativity on Christmas Eve. So I asked the children who in the room looked the most like Baby Jesus. They answered, "Esther!" who was actually in the other room sleeping. Their next guess was "Javier!" who is almost two. I gave up at that point and motioned to Andres, the three week old, and said I thought he could be baby Jesus. Then I suggested that Laurellee and Juan Carlos could be Mary and Joseph, as they were sitting on the couch with the baby, and what could we be? Felicity wanted to be a wise man. Dan suggested we be shepherds. The boys wanted to be sheep. Dead sheep.

I should have known better, but I ploughed ahead, reading how the angels proclaimed the birth to the shepherds. We then tried to sing "Angels We Have Heard on High." Adam howled at the top of his voice the entire song. When we finished, Eli explained, in a rather intoxicated voice, "we were singing in sheep language." Adam added "dead sheep language." I pointed out that sheep can't talk. Especially dead sheep. Next was the part about the Wise Men coming to see the child when he was a bit older. I suggested that Javier could be the Toddler Jesus, and at this point Adam and Eli declared themselves to be dead camels. So I said, "The End!" and all of the adults clapped, frightening Javier so badly that he bit his dad hard on the hand. At which point our guests left and the evening was pretty much over.


Anonymous said...

Hey Andrea,

This is Taymiya--I just got your lovely Christmas card and decided to check out your blog. I'm glad you had a good time with your guests this Christmas, and I can't wait to meet Esther! Also can't wait to try out that soup receipe you posted.


marizasmom said...

I can picture this happening with perfect clarity. I know you were probably cringing a couple of times, but it sounds so funny when you write it down. We often have things that aren't nearly as warm and fuzzy as I pictured them and have children howling when they shouldn't be.

Carma said...

Leslie was here (in Omaha) last night and when I said something about your blog, she asked if I'd read the latest...I was not disappointed. Oh, I was laughing out loud. You do have a talent for writing this stuff down.