Christmas this year started a little earlier than usual with the screening of Tafelmusik's Sing-Along Messiah documentary in mid-November. They screened it at a theatre nearby, and I was invited because I'm friends with one of their marketing people. I invited Kat and Tanya as my plus-one, and we had a lovely evening out.
More Messiah ensued a couple of weeks later with my choir's performance thereof, which went fantastically well. We've done Messiah so many times I think people are actually starting to relax and enjoy singing it.
Our first Christmas party was at a friend of the family's. I'm sure he'd like to stop inviting us because we never talk to anyone we're not related to, and we eat like crazy, but we always enjoy ourselves.
Around mid-December I went to a free choir and organ concert at Roy Thomson Hall, with the Elmer Iseler Singers. Another good concert, and they had a couple of sing-along numbers. One of the sing-alongs was the Hallelujah chorus, but I was the only person in my area who sang along with any enthusiasm — it's a bit of a funny choice for a sing-along, really. I belted it out anyway.
That week was the last week of school, so we were invited to Cordelia's class party, and I went to the school Holiday Sing-Along assembly. Then on that weekend I went to a free concert at Yorkminster in aid of CHUM Christmas Wish — admission was free but they asked for a donation of a toy. It was a fantastic lineup: True North Brass, High Park Children's Choirs, Richard Margison and Isabel Bayrakdarian. For free! I went for Isabel Bayrakdarian (and the sing-along Christmas carols), but she gave a rather predictable performance of Oh Holy Night. Richard Margison sang some vaguely familiar Disney-esque duet with his pop-singing daughter Lauren, but then she left the stage and he treated us to a toe-curling rendition of Nessun Dorma. I admit I've never really been into opera, but this particular performance reached all the way up to the balcony and grabbed me. I couldn't stay for the whole concert, but I believe I was there for the best bit.
I had to leave early because we were on our way to a party at our old/new friends the Theysmeyers'. It was terrific to meet their neighbours but best was reconnecting with old friends from university, some who I hadn't seen since well before Delphine was born. Delphine and Cordelia had a great time as the senior kids at the party — the host's kid is four and everyone else was that age or younger, so my girls took charge.
Thursday night we had some people over to eat cookies and sing some more carols, and then Friday (Christmas Eve) we had nothing to do — the house was clean, the fridge was full of party food. (I actually got some work done.) Later in the day David Wolever came over for a quick visit and dropped off an Arduino for Blake and a clickety IBM Model M keyboard (with USB converter cable!) for me. So awesome! So we fed him cookies.
And today was Christmas. Delphine was sick last night and stumbled out of her room at 10 pm all miserable and damp and sore. I fed her some ibuprofen and tucked her back in, but not before she noticed her stocking was full. I feigned ignorance. Maybe Santa came in through the bathroom exhaust vent?
Delphine being sick meant that she didn't wake up at the crack of dawn to open her stocking, so at around 7:00 I and the girls went downstairs and the girls investigated their stockings while I experimented with making cinnamon buns with biscuit dough. (Hypothesis: yum! Result: hypothesis confirmed!) We ate, then everyone got dressed before we dug into the presents.
Blake was very happy with The Calculus Diaries by Jennifer Ouellette, a iPhone holder for working out with, and a Cybertool Swiss Army knife with about a billion tools which will be very useful when he's messing with his new Arduino.
I got a ceramic figurine of a little girl standing by a bucket — the bucket doubles as a candle holder — from Delphine, and an iHome alarm clock from Blake, as well as some chocolate, earrings and stationery (-ary?) from my cousin, who always buys me unambitious but excellent gifts.
The girls loved their Playmobil, Quadrilla marble run, books, playdough (for Cordelia) and colour-in-able purse (for Delphine). Delphine was pretty happy to spend the day convalescing on the couch and reading her new Magic Tree House books from Cordelia.
We had all the usual suspects for Christmas Dinner, as well as Auntie J'Anne and a co-worker of Morgan's who needed a loaner family for Christmas. She fit right in. Our very special guest this year was baby Charlie, who was celebrating (but not really enjoying) his first Christmas.
Dinner was pretty good. I did two roasts (I have to ask them to leave the prime rib in one piece the next time we order cow), roasted potatoes, and Yorkshire puddings, and Morgan brought salad. (Baba brought wine and appetizers.) The beef was fine, the potatoes were okay but not crispy, and the Yorkshires were fine. Part of the problem was that there were no drippings from the beef, so we had to do the potatoes and Yorkies with canola oil, which I think we didn't heat up enough. Still, it was well-received. The Christmas pudding with brandy butter and whipped cream seemed to go down pretty smooth too, but just in case, we served a giant Toblerone and a gingerbread house as well.
For after dinner entertainment we tried to teach Morgan's friend how to do cryptic crosswords, and I made everyone play "Twinkle Twinkle" on the pitched whistles from our Christmas crackers. (Everyone got a numbered note, and I yelled out each person's number: "1 1! 5 5! 6 6! 5! 4 4! 3 3! 2 2! 1! 5 5! 4 4! 3 3! 2 2! 5 5!..." and so on.) $25 well spent, I believe.
Then we all sat around and digested and played with the children's toys until it was (their) bedtime. Now that everyone else has either gone home or is tucked in, Blake is watching a video about dragons and I'm drinking sherry and listening to Christmas music. A fantastic day all 'round (unless you're Delphine).