Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Preparations

In addition to the typical shopping and wrapping that goes on this time of year, here are some other things I've been doing to prepare for Christmas. First: CLEANING! Last weekend I did a very thorough cleaning in my own bedroom. I tend to hoard books and magazines to read before I go to sleep and I usually have quite a collection piled on the nighttable and on the floor next to (and sometimes under) the bed. I cleaned it all up and vacuumed up all the dust in the area. I even reorganized my jewelry box, which was sort of overflowing with my latest creations and things I've been wearing more often.

With that job done, I tackled this window in the kitchen. Can you see all the cobwebs and dead bug debris up in the corners? No?
How's this close-up? Can you see it now? Ick!
Well, with only about a dozen paper towels, some good old fashioned glass cleaner, a lot of elbow grease and about a half hour of my time, I transformed it into this:
Much better! Now I can look out the window as I'm cooking or doing dishes and enjoy the view of the lake and morning sunlight pouring in. (There's nothing like a visit from my in-laws to get me to do some really deep cleaning! They'll be here just after Christmas). Just one more window to tackle - the big one in the living room. Then put up the tree and bake a few cookies...

This evening we're going to a friend's for their traditional "Grinch" party. They've been doing it since college; we've probably gone to the last 15 or so. I get to catch up with lots of old teacher friends and we usually have lots of laughs and lots of food. Guests usually bring a dessert so this year I opted for a new family favorite, mini cupcakes. My oldest daughter loves them; she says it's just the right balance of cake and frosting in one little bite! They take kind of a long time for me to bake because I only have one mini cupcake pan, which needs to be reused 3 times to finish up the batter. But they make a cute presentation when they're frosted and decorated.
This time I made some of them in my favorite flavor combination: mint and chocolate! Yum!
Lastly, I started rereading a favorite holiday book of mine that I tend to borrow from the library almost every year in December. It's copyright date is 1964, and I'm lucky our library still has this copy. It is a fictional account of all the characters in the Christmas story as the birth of Jesus approaches, with one chapter devoted to each of them beginning with Mary and Joseph and continuing with the three Magi, Mary's cousin Elizabeth, the innkeeper and his wife, Herod the king, and a shepherd. Norah Lofts makes these characters so human and realistic, not like the fairy-tale saints we sometimes think they are. In particular, the character of Balthazar (one of the magi who is typically portrayed as being black) is cast as a slave. He has given up on gods and religion, but has a vision of a star bursting over the horizon and knows it means a new dawning for mankind. He runs away from his owner to pursue the star and the dream of freedom and justice and receives both as he kneels before the babe in the manger. There are many parts of this book that can move me to tears (but in a good way!). How are you preparing for Christmas?

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