Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays.....

Don't you just love this time of year. All the craziness, all the family, all the fun. I do. Our December was exhausting, but great. Here are some of the highlights:

Wicked - Our family is in love with this play. So much so, that we named our dog after the Wicked Witch. How lucky were we to get to see it a second time before it left California for good. Went with a big group of our "dance friends" whom we haven't seen in quite a while. We had a blast reconnecting with them as we sang along with Elfie and Glinda. After the play, we hung out by the backstage doors hoping for a glimpse of a cast member. Luckily, it was warm outside and the wait proved fruitful. The kids got to shake hands with Glinda, Boq, and Fiaroooooooooooooo. They thought that was ultra cool to rub shoulders with "the stars."

The Nativity Festival - In Temecula, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosts a Nativity Festival for the entire community. It used to be called the "Creche Festival" but nobody including church members, knew what the word "Creche" meant. (In case YOU don't know ... it' means NATIVITY!!) The festival has taken place for about 10 years and it's TONS of work. (I hope I never get that calling.) In just two days, "Worker Bees" transform the Stake Center into Bethlehem complete with a starry sky, and an Inn. Each room has a different setting from the account of Christ's birth. The Shepherds, the Angels, the Wise Men ... you know the story. In the cultural hall there is a huge display of Nativities that come from the homes of all the ward members. It's pretty impressive. In the chapel. there is singing by a variety of choirs in and around Temecula. Now this may shock you, and I'm REALLY embarrassed to admit this, but 2008 was the first year that I personally attended. (Whew, it's out there. Don't chastise me the next time you see me!) For some reason, I'm either sick, or something else is going on the same weekend. The minute I walked through the doors I felt the Spirit of Christmas rush over me like a wave. I immediately regretted all those years that I had missed out. It was so beautiful and it put me into the proper frame of mind to celebrate the season. By the time I sat down to listen to the Youth Choir (in which Claire made her first debut) I was bawling like a baby. (Yes, my kids were totally embarrassed as usual.) I thought about the Heavenly Hosts who sang the night Christ was born. Were we in that choir? Is that why Christmas music helps us feel the spirit like nothing else ... because our spirits remember even though our physical brain has locked the "premoral" file?? I personally think so.

Christmas Elves - This year, I thought it would be fun to do something for a few of the little kids in our ward. So, one night, our family made cupcakes and delivered them to several houses, along with a letter from Santa. The plan was to have Eden and Claire dress up like elves and deliver the cupcakes in person, but for some mysterious reason, they declined. (Why in the world wouldn't my tweeners want to wear green tights and paint their faces?? Am I out of touch??) So, I had to opt for ringing the doorbell and running. We had a great time, and later it was fun to hear about the reaction of all the little kids who received a cupcake for being "extra good." In addition to cupcakes, we made batches and batches of candy, and brownies which we delivered to all of our neighbors and friends. My kitchen looks like a bomb exploded, but it was worth it. In return, our friends and neighbors gave us batches and batches of delicious goodies. I'm sure that their kitchens resemble mine. We have all gained at least 5 pounds and will be going to the dentist on January 5th.

Ward Christmas Party - May I just say that we have THE BEST activities committee in our ward. They never cease to amaze me with all their clever ideas. This year we had a party at a neighborhood clubhouse. There was hot chocolate, great food, a parade, an outdoor movie, friends and snow! (What did I tell you about the activities committee!), . Claire managed to sprain her ankle and there was talk of a box catching on fire that sat to close to candle, but all in all in was a great time. The best part was that we didn't have to clean an entire ward building, or so I thought. Early the next morning I learned that Matt had signed "Beutler Family, December 20th" on the "Clean the Building Schedule." When is he going to stop picking the week of Christmas!!!!!!!!

Choir - If you asked me what my favorite activity is at Christmastime, it would be singing in a choir. Throughout middle school and high school I sang in the choir -- even boys glee (they needed tenors, I liked boys). I have MANY fond memories of sitting next to my alto friends as we learned the Messiah, and other holiday songs, and standing on top of the giant Christmas tree (a delux choir stand) at the local mall. For the past two years I've missed out on this because I was the feeble (and I mean FEEBLE) ward choir director. I know very little about reading music and conducting even after all those years of singing. (My fellow ward members can attest to this. I'm conducting impaired. They suffered right along with me as I fulfilled my assignment.)

Christmas - For the past 10 years we have spent Christmas Eve decorating gingerbread houses, eating a huge dinner, and watching Christmas movies. This year, we switched it up. We simplified. We bought a new panini maker and had a buffet of meats and cheeses. Eden and Claire loved making their own sandwiches and raved about their creations. I was happy that my kids didn't whine about the food and ate something besides cookies and cereal. We also watched "the Nativity" movie which we all loved. It really made the account of Christ's birth come to life. It was nice to have a peaceful night that was centered on Christ, not presents. I can't say the same thing about Christmas day. We lounged in our pajamas all day, had a second round of panini's, finished off the cheese balls and other neighbor concoctions, and opened the gifts that had tormented us for 2 long weeks under the Christmas tree.

A Wedding - The day after Christmas, we headed to Utah for the wedding of Grant Beutler (Matt's dad) to Nina Johnston. We spent three fun filled days with family, old and new. Amongst other things, there was a bowling tournament where no one managed to beat their WI scores; a jewelry making party at Leslie's groovy new pad; a dinner at Nina's beautiful old house on Walker Lane, which included a story about naked skydiving (it was hilarious); a party in a barn (that was more like a three story luxury club house) where we had the opportunity to meet all of Nina's family; a beautiful sealing for time in the Bountiful temple, where a discovery was made that the temple sealer and Grant were cousins who had never met; and a celebration luncheon at the Joseph Smith Center which included a memorable song by all the grandchildren. I love the Johnston family and look forward to more great times as Grant and Nina share their life together.

That's it, but one more thing before I go. Are you wondering why there are no photos???? My camera broke again! Doh!
This year, a wonderful woman who is new to our ward actually OFFERED to direct the choir. We all rejoiced to have someone in charge who actually knew what they were doing. I loved going to practice every Sunday to sing with my friends. It "filled my cup" and helped me to have the Spirit with me as I did all the crazy shopping, cooking and you know ... holiday stuff . Thank you Michelle, you made my Christmas.

1 comment:

Doug and Kristen said...

I can totally agree with you on our Christmas party and choir program! So fun and I love sitting next to you in choir. You're awesome and keep me on key and endure my frustrations when I happen to pick the wrong chair ;)