This has been a busy few weeks, as it is for everyone, especially if you have kids. There are certain things I wish I would remember to do during the rest of the year --such as collect small trinkets for the advent calendar-- so I wasn't stuck doing them all in December. However, I suppose that being busy is almost necessary to really enjoy your down time.
We joined some friends for a Solstice gathering on Saturday, at the home of our one "homesteader" friend. T teaches at the college with us, but his wife L is an artist and has been homeschooling their son since they removed him from the public school eight years ago (along with raising most of their food). He has Asperger's, and L chose the unschooling method, which seems to have worked well for them. Their son (now 16) is taking some college classes and working through an online math curriculum, in addition to being very passionate about playing drums and guitar. Another couple we've known for a long time was there as well --they now live a couple of hours away, in Wisconsin, so we don't see them very often. We actually introduced M & R to T & L and the two couples quickly bonded because their son also has Asperger's, although he has been a much greater parenting challenge, with some very difficult behavior.
Our friend E and her daughter K were there as well, and there was a natural divide over the course of the evening, with the spouses and significant others gathering to talk music, and the women gathering to talk over everything from the obnoxious symptoms of menopause to the latest news. (We are all very liberal, so we are generally just affirming each other's views.) At one point our talk turned to the shootings in Connecticut and the culture of firearms in our country. E and I were both horrified to find out that M, whose son has had some real behavioral problems, had decided that the best way to deal with their son's fascination with firearms was to bring guns into their home and make sure their son took classes to learn how to safely use them. She now has a possible Adam Lanza or Kip Kinkel situation in her house and seemed completely oblivious. I remember an incident when Emma was a baby, and their son was seven or so --his demeanor scared me enough that I would never leave Emma in his presence. We didn't say anything --what could we say?
Last night we went to see the lights at the Rotary Gardens in Janesville, WI. Last year we did this earlier in the month, but this year I read that they were going to have reindeer this particular weekend, and I thought that would be a nice surprise for Emma.
(They also had a camel, and when I read this to Rob we both paused a moment. Then I said "Well, I guess it fits with the nativity?" "Poor camel." was his response. "Brr.")
Unfortunately, it was a bit over-crowded for us because of the reindeer and just being so close to Christmas. There were three reindeer, although only one had a full set of antlers. It was interesting to see but I felt a bit sorry for them, as they were inside a double enclosure that was smaller than our small living room. They looked uncomfortable with the crowd. They are much smaller than I thought, but I guess in the original story Santa is an elf, so that might explain how much larger they look in the picture books.
These last two days haven't been helped by the intense pain my arthritis has been causing me. I don't know what I've done, but I was in so much pain Saturday that I finally took the codeine-type pain pill I normally take at bedtime before we left for the Solstice party. That took the edge off so I could think of something other than the pain while we were socializing. Then last night, when we went to the light show I was really hobbling. I took three tylenol before we left, but it was still awful. Holiday events often require one to cook something earlier in the day, and they always happen in the evening, after I've been using my hip all day. When we were sitting and drinking hot chocolate, after walking the path to see the lights, I was wondering if next Christmas I'd be able to enjoy walks again, with a new hip. That will be a wonderful gift.
Today is all about relaxing --well, except for all the wrapping that is still left to do. But Rob and I will exile Emma from the music room and do the wrapping together. Maybe with a cocktail :-)