Archive for December 2011

A Christmas Story

December 24, 2011

I had planned a post reporting on our family’s yearly watching of the movie “A Christmas Story.”  As I’ve noted in the past, this has become one of my favorite evenings of the season, because it bring back lots of family memories (both for my dad, who grew up in the same era in which the film is set, and for me and my brother, whose growing-up experiences parallel a lot of the action in the movie).

But then I heard a story from one of our church employees that beats anything I could write.

Our church has a tutoring program for disadvantaged children.  We normally tutor about 30-40 kids each week during the school year.  About a week ago, somebody approached us, looking for a way to provide a little directed assistance to some children in need.  Well, the kids we tutor are just about as needy as they come.  So this person provided enough money for us to give each child a $15 gift card to Target.

You have no idea the impact this had.

When we announced every child would be getting $15, there was an audible gasp in the room.  Then some kids started jumping up and down.  Others started to cheer.  But one little girl just sat down and cried.  When somebody asked her why she was crying, she looked up and said,

“I’m just so happy.  Now I can by my mother a Christmas gift.”

Merry Christmas, indeed.


I need a vacation from Christmas

December 13, 2011

One thing that I may not have realized when taking this job two years ago (has it been two years already?) was that Decembers on a church staff are not quite as laid back as Decembers when working at a government facility.  During the month of December in the government, you can pretty much count on federal workers taking lots of vacation time, since so many long time government workers have built up a lot of vacation.  They can only carry over so much from year to year, so they either “use it or lose it.”  They tend to “use it” in December.  So, meetings are few and far between, parking is easier, and the average contractor (who doesn’t have that much leave stored up) can actually get some work done.

You can imagine how this might contrast with working at a church in December.

So, while I actually have a little time, I thought I’d do a “catch-up” post to cover the past two weeks:

We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to the Outer Banks on a Sunday.  We then had six days to get the house in order for our Sunday School class Christmas party.  Unfortunately, since I don’t think the reason “need to clean and decorate for a party” is quite a good enough excuse to miss work, we had to cram in the cleaning/decorating into the evening hours.

During the week, J and A were charged with decorating the tree

They tend to get a little distracted.

My addition to the decorations this year was adding the Contemporary Resort to our Walt Disney World monorail around the tree.

Did I mention that Saturday morning (and yes, the same Saturday we were expecting 50+ people at our house in the evening), K , as Flower Committee Chairwoman, and I, as Flower Committee Chairwoman’s Main Flunky, had to be at church for the annual Christmas decorating day?

K rallies the decorating troops

A was there to "help"

Look, more "helping"

A did contribute some nice Christmas artwork to help the cause.

So, after 5 hours of church decorating (you heard that right. Five. Hours.), we made it home with only a couple of hours to finish up around the house.  While I was finishing decorating outside, I heard the most terrible screeching sound.  As I turned around, I saw this flying through our woods and landing on one of our trees:

Nothing quite like having a bald eagle stare at you.

So, after that little exciting interlude, we did get the house finished by party time

It's always a good day when the chocolate fountain is running.

I think our final tally was 61 people.

Our annual White Elephant Gift Exchange is always a hoot. And slightly irreverent. The less said about that, the better.

A looked cute enough to ensure that nobody was going to steal the gift she wanted.

The next day, the kids’ choir sang at all of our morning services.

Hard to capture a moving 6 year old on film

While walking around after the kids sang, I looked at one of the monitors positioned throughout the church and saw this. Always nice when the Executive Director's children show so much enthusiasm after performing.

The next week was filled with dress rehearsals for our church’s adult Christmas musical performance.

And let me tell you, there’s nothing more fun than spending 12 hours at church for 5 out of 7 days.

But there was some fun during these rehearsals.  The kids’ choir also had a small part in the adult choir performance, so they had to be at rehearsal as well, meaning I didn’t completely miss out on spending time with them this week. And since my brother, one of his kids, my Dad and his wife were also in the performance, we had a total of 7 members of the NotNed Family singing in the performances Saturday and Sunday nights.

And K had her own performance as well.  She and I help out with the preschool kids choir.  They did a couple of songs at our Sunday morning services this week.  There was a small speaking part in one of the songs, mostly to feed the correct words to the kids.  I was supposed to do it, but since I was so busy Sunday morning, K stepped in for me:

(And now I shall wait for K’s email, chastising me for posting this)

Finally, Monday night was the kids’ Christmas performance at school.

A and her friend wait for the performance to start.

We think J may have a future as a Sears catalog model.

Sorry for the shaky, blurry video.  It was hard to fight for a close spot amongst the other 3,253 parents with cameras.  And while A proves once again that she can focus on any task, I apologize for J’s ear picking, tie-waving, and general 6-year-old-boy-ness

It's really a shame that J and A don't like each other.

So, we made it through the past two weeks.  At least now you might understand why we’re a wee bit late with our Christmas cards.