Thursday, December 31, 2009

what I'm listening to

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas

• Day 1, Dec. 25: Even the radio will help you celebrate Christmas today. Enjoy!
• Day 2, Dec. 26: St. Stephen the First Martyr. Read Acts 7:48 at the crèche. “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands,” says Stephen. The manger shows where he did first choose to dwell. Stephen’s commitment to Christ led to his death.
• Day 3, Dec. 27: Holy Family feast. Look through photo albums of Christmases past, and then ask: What do we want our family to be like in the future? Plan to make this so.
• Day 4, Dec. 28: “The Coventry Carol” is a beautiful old hymn for this day.
• Day 5, Dec. 29: The feast of St. Thomas à Becket. Read the story of St. Thomas. He was friends with the king, and the king hoped that through him he could control the Church. Instead, Thomas took his role seriously, and he did great good before he was martyred by his old friend. Can we be counted on to take our Christian lives seriously, or do we try to please the world? What New Year’s resolution can change that?
• Day 6, Dec. 30: Take one of your favorite Christmas hymns and read it as a family, explaining what each part means. Also, teach the family a new song: A good Advent hymn that explains Christmas is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”
• Day 7, Dec. 31: Take your calendar down today, and go through it as a family, looking at all you did; then say a prayer of thanks.
• Day 8, Jan. 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace (and the octave of Christmas).
• Day 9, Jan. 2: Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzen. These two brothers were both canonized. So were their grandmother, father, mother and a sister. This can boost your resolve in your own New Year’s resolution.
• Day 10, Jan. 3: Epiphany Sunday. Today is a feast of humility. That sounds ironic, since it’s about three kings’ lavish gifts. But realize that the Magi traveled a long way probably expecting something more than a baby; nonetheless, they “prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Likewise, the second Person of the Trinity came a long way — to be a weak and helpless infant.
• Day 11, Jan. 4: Christmas isn’t over yet. But for many, work begins again today. This is like the first Christmas, which happened amid the turmoil of the census on busy days in Bethlehem. How can you “find Christmas” on a working day?
• Day 12, Jan. 5: The final “day of Christmas,” this is the last day before the major feast of Epiphany.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas

In the days leading up to Christmas, we had lots of fun. Here we are before we went to a Christmas party at a friends house.

Then Evelyn's sister Mary-Kay, her husband Sasha and child Sashenka came to Estonia to spend Christmas with us. Here are Elizabeth, Sashenka and Peter.

The Christmas elf regularly brought candy, even when we were in Tallinn for one night.

On Christmas Eve, we had a program at the corps, and Sashenka sang a song in Russian, which everyone loved!
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Then the Clark and Gudkov families sang "Jingle Bells."

At bed time on Christmas Eve, Peter and Elizabeth were snug in their pajamas.

Peter was ready for bed ...

... but first he wanted to put out cookies and milk for Santa.
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But he thought they needed some icing before they were ready. This work took a lot of concentration (notice the tongue!).

Santa was in for a treat!
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Officer Christmas Party

Today we traveled to the southern city of Võru for the officers' Christmas party.

Elizabeth and Evelyn looked very beautiful.

We had a meal with traditional Estonian Christmas food: (clockwise from bottom) verevorst (blood sausage), hapukapsas (sauerkraut), beet salad, boiled potato, pumpkin salad, and baked pork with a dollop of horseradish. It was delicious!

Peter enjoyed the meal!
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After the meal, everyone gathered in a circle for a game of "Pass the parcel."

Peter got to unwrap one of the layers, while Mark carefully watched.

Elizabeth with her friends Sofia and Sandra.

Then we had a visit from Santa!
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The Estonian tradition is that before you receive your gift, you had to do something for Santa, like sing a song or recite a poem or do a dance. Peter, completely in character, told a joke.

He gave full concentration to unwrapping his gifts!

And was happy with the contents.

Some of the party goers awaiting their turn with Santa.
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Before she received her gift, Elizabeth sang a song for Santa.

Which apparently pleased him!

Overall, it was nice to spend time with friends (Elizabeth even made a new friend, Laura).
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Decorating the Tree!

Last weekend, we decorated our Christmas tree. Before we started, Elizabeth got Peter ready by putting on his elf hat.

Then he was ready to decorate the tree!

Our first Christmas in Estonia, we found that you can't buy a live tree until a few days before Christmas, so we bought this white tree instead, and it has been a part of our family tradition every since.

Peter putting on his decorations.
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Elizabeth joined in the fun!

Finally, it was time to put the angel on the top of the tree, and Elizabeth didn't need to go onto daddy's shoulders to reach the top this year.
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The finished tree
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Elizabeth's Birthday Party

Elizabeth's birthday party was in Tallinn this year. We had just returned from meetings in Helsinki and so stayed at the Army's regional flat, which was the perfect place to have the bash to celebrate her 14th birthday. Here, she is greeted by Keit with a hug and flowers.

Evelin and Anneli came late, but were welcomed anyway.

After lots of food and chatting, it was time to open the gifts.

Many of the gifts were things to remind her of Estonia.
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