They are all happily making their Christingles for the service to be held in the village church and have decorated trees for the local church's Christmas Tree Festival. It's a busy buildup to the big day and I love how it all helps the children to remember what the holiday is all about.
We've been very fortunate to have our kids in the Church of England schools where the day starts with prayer, they celebrate the birth of Christ and God is welcome. I love the school!
Who am I kidding, it's not just the school- I love everything over here.
Rudolph, Frosty and Santa Claus is Coming to Town take a back seat to Dr. Who, East Enders and Downton Abbey Christmas specials. The Hogfather, a twisted Christmas tale by Terry Pratchet should make it's annual appearance soon. The basic plot: The Hogfather, the Discworld equivalent to Father Christmas, has gone missing and Death is forced to take his place while his granddaughter Susan attempts to find out what happened.
Country-wide, churches open their lovely heavy wooden doors and offer mince pies and hot tea for carol services. The first carol service I attended was not the peaceful, wonderful experience I had expected- with a husband in Iraq and very wiggly toddler who kept me from watching my boy play the trumpet in the service. I distinctly remember standing outside crying through part of it while looking up into the starry night sky.
So this year, when I heard about St. Mary's carol service, I insisted the whole family would go--and enjoy it.
St Mary's church is located in a small village called West Tofts. The unique thing about this village though, is it is mostly deserted. During the war, the military took over the village (and several others), turning it into a mock-Nazi village for training. Unfortunately, after the war ended, the military didn't give it back to the community-it's most recent facelift was to turn it into an Afghanistan-like battle ground. But, the British Army hold an annual carol service to welcome the public back into the gorgeous, 19th century building.
We got there early and found a pew. My children began bickering within 5 minutes of sitting down. Miss Ky was in full wiggle mode within 10 minutes.
We only had 20 more minutes to go before the service would even start.
During the service, the military brass band accompanies the carolers and readings of the nativity are placed throughout. Towards the end, a collection comes around for church restoration and other causes. It's an incredible experience being here in England for Christmas and it's hard not to get melancholy knowing this will be our last.
But, nevermind. You came for the photos, so let's get on with it!
So, new coat. Happy girl.
|The church is lit by candles...|
|A2 getting a "tour" of the tree.|
|Where did everyone go? Off to eat mince pies. I took photos|
|Do you suppose his gown was designed by Cinna?|
after an evening of telling my kids to "Sit down", "Quiet down" "This is a prayer, quit rustling your programme!" "Stop looking at her!" "Stop annoying to him!" "Would you LEAVE your sister alone?!",
we stopped by the base where I was reminded how blessed I am to have tired, hungry children at Christmas time.
|Our heartfelt prayers go out to the Newtown community and the families and friends who are mourning.|
We got home after 9.30pm. My exhausted little ones brushed their teeth and I peeled Miss Ky out of her clothes and into her pajamas. We hung her coat in a special place so that she could look at it and her brothers wouldn't dirty it with theirs. As I tucked her into bed and leaned down to kiss her goodnight, I told her, "You really shouldn't keep so many of your babies in bed with you, it would be terrible if you got head lice again and they all had to go back into the freezer all at once".
To which she replied,
"Oh, speaking of that... my head is itchy".
No, I am not joking. I wish I was. Friday evening after the terrible, tragic news coming out of CT, we had put our two youngest in our bed with us. Saturday they ended back up in there for a good cuddle. Miss Ky and an older brother like to have cuddles on his bed as well. We often find them heads stuck together playing a DS or reading...
We began the combing. I found no less than eight pteradactyls on that child's head. Everyone's bedding was removed. The mattresses were vacuumed. All clothes, hoodies, pillows, stuffed toys left the bedrooms.
Miss Ky's new coat has gone into the freezer for the next two weeks. It will be there for Christmas.
My laundry room looks like Kilimanjaro. I am itching as we speak.
So at this time, I think I would like to recount my earlier comment. I do not love EVERYTHING about England (or more specifically, the school and their head lice policies). Some nasty little things I will be happy to leave behind....
HO, HO, HOOooo