Have you packed Christmas away yet? We had no tree here, as we spent Christmas in London, and all of our decorations are in Trinidad still, so there were only ribbons of Christmas cards to take down, and the Nativity Crèche to put away.
I love packing Christmas away. It's one tradition that I enjoy all by myself, on a quiet day when the kids are back at school. I usually have crazy glue, contact cement, paints, brushes and glitter on hand, and every ornament is checked out, repaired, and prettied before it's wrapped in tissue paper and put away. It's good to have a fix-it day because things are bound to get broken (especially if you have a cat like Lulu) (and small boys) (and a small house with a huge tree squeezed in), and you can say "that's okay, honey" and put the broken treasure on a shelf till January 6th. Old Angels who've been around for years and years may need to have their cheeks re-pinked, and gold acrylic paint is great for brightening up the el cheapo decorations on the bottom branch which have been chewed on by your nephew.
So this year, I had nothing to mend. But, the nativity set needed serious attention! For many years we've had "O Sprawling Metropolis Of Bethlehem", a child-friendly, play-with-able Playmobil Set which we added to as the years went by. Our Bethlehem had a sweet stable, made by a friend, with the Holy Family and all of the animals, on a hill (cardboard box covered with green cloth). Around the base of the hill was the rest of Bethlehem, which was surprisingly diverse and covered the entire coffee table. Dinosaurs (because God loves ALL animals); the three wise men (porcelain, no-one ever broke them) with plastic camel, elephant and horse (the animals are from different parts of the "East"); Clay figures made by the boys; Little houses with other, porcelain pieces; Christmas trees made in school; a train track running around the base of the hill; a farm... the kids refused to let any soldiers into Bethlehem, and all was peace and togetherness. You get the idea. It actually looked great in spite of pieces not being to scale, and encouraged much discussion about baby Jesus and the whole Christmas thing. (I have to give them some Christianity to round off their rather varied religious education) (And you know how I feel about the Nativity!)
Now that the boys are older, I thought that we could have a more grown-up Crèche, so I looked online for one. Alas, the ones I really liked were horrendously expensive for this moment in my life, so I bought one that looked okay from Lakeland. I really liked it because it's got three Shepherd Boys, who look a lot like my boys! (Aaaaawwwww!) It arrived excitingly, in a box within a box full of padding and the boys unwrapped it and set it up.
And noticed that the Holy Family is very blonde. The shepherds too. How we laughed! We decided that it may not be historically correct, but that's okay. And my not buying a beautiful fragile handmade crèche turned out to be a good thing, when my smallest downstairs neighbours came up and noticed it. I put the crèche on the floor, and they played for an hour, acting out the whole story. A few Lego men got involved, too. Our new crèche isn't unbreakable, but nothing was broken. Kids are really careful, if you ask them to be. I am all for giving kids fragile stuff to touch, as long as it isn't really valuable.
So the Crèche is a success. And last night, I got out the paints and gave Mary, baby Jesus and two of the shepherd boys brown hair (Joseph is old and grey, and so are the Wise Men). I left one shepherd boy blonde, for Sam (they are SO cute). And then, I put them all away till next Christmas... and by then we'll have our other decorations here too!
Our Christmas holiday has been so good... much better than I had anticipated! The snow this week, and the resulting day-and-a-half off school, extended the party atmosphere for us. England is COVERED in snow! Look at the satellite picture! Yikes!
I hope you are warm wherever you are. I know that we have it easy, with our piddling inch or two of snow and ice. My heart goes out to everyone who's stuck indoors, waiting for the spring. Hang in there!