December looked like this…

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One of the many joys of homeschooling is being able to reduce the Advent Anxiety factor by relaxing into the season. I schedule school so that we have finished our first 12 week term by the first week of December.  So we put away everything except math and science, then spend a week or so listening to choral classics, and reading seasonal short stories and poetry.  When the co-ops take a break we put all the books away and focus on getting ready for Christmas with hearts softened by the words of Donne, Rossetti, Van Dyke and the lyric texts of Veni, Veni Immanuel, and He Shall Gently Lead, and Of the Father’s Love Begotten.  

Music kept us busy in early December.  The Daughter had a Choral Concert at Young Musicians of Virginia, and a performance at the Live Nativity at Bergey’s Breadbasket.

She had another recital! The December recital is always a fun one.  The students perform Christmas duets, and sheet music is permitted, making it a little less stressful.  Later in the month The Daughter was scheduled to play piano on the regular fourth Sunday, as well as the Christmas Eve service, so we were treated to Christmas hymns all month.  It was lovely!  Papa Gene and Far Ranging Brother joined us for a few of the performances, and they also hosted us for a tree decorating dinner at Papa Gene’s house.

In addition to our shopping, and helping Grandma Midge with her shopping, we picked up some blankets and gloves for the AHG Christmas Party.  The girls put together packets of hats, gloves, socks etc for a local homeless shelter.  While we were out, we also found some pretty scarves, and beautiful bright red polar fleece pullovers for teenagers in a group home in Portsmouth.  These kids are often forgotten about at Christmas, but our piano teacher coordinates a drive to collect new and gently used clothing as well as a variety of Walmart and Target gift cards so they can have a little something under the tree.

The Daughter’s choir and science co-op, YMV, coordinated a field trip to a wonderful production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol at the Well’s Theatre in Norfolk.  We had fantastic seats, the better to see all of the special effects.  The acting was clear and evocative. The costumes and set were fantastic.  I particularly loved the English carols and folk songs they used as transitions between scenes.

Morning walks around the neighborhood took on a festive feel as neighbors began to put up wreaths, pine roping, Christmas themed garden flags, decorations and lights. The Garners were stunned to be awarded Best Traditional Decor in the Civic League contest!  December isn’t terribly cold in our area, so we made it a point to drive to the beach a few times to walk.  It’s just as beautiful, and we are becoming more and more familiar with the curve of the beach, the sandbars, the tidal pools and shells.

The squares on the December calendar opened up once the co-ops went on break, but The Daughter had a few events to look forward to including a fun (and productive) Christmas Baking Party hosted by an AHG friend, which resulted in our receiving a delicious assortment of gingerbread, death by chocolate cookies, and peppermint bark! We met some friends for the final Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, and it was especially nice to be invited by one of The Daughter’s friends to visit Green Lakes Baptist Church to hear her sing in their wonderful Christmas Cantata, Three Gifts.

We enjoyed spending time with my Far Ranging Brother who visited Papa Gene through the holidays.  We were able to get together and talk over football games, lunches, and the family holiday dinners.  Grandma Midge stayed a few days over Christmas which is always wonderful because she is incredibly helpful; I don’t even get a chance to the dishes when she’s here.  She’s also pretty fast with a knife, in the kitchen.

Mr. Garner cooked Christmas Dinner (aren’t I truly blessed?).  He cooked a scrumptious Southern ham, glazed carrots, green beans, roasted brussels sprouts and red potatoes.  We had to set a spell after all of that, but then we brewed a fresh pot of coffee and enjoyed his mouthwatering homemade ginger-spiced apple pie.

#1 Son was home for just a day or so short of a month, which was wonderful!  Mornings were quiet while he slept in, but afternoons were filled with activity.  The Daughter was extremely efficient with school work, chores and piano practice in order to free up her afternoons for BroTime.   They made Samurai armor out of twine and the abundance of cardboard in the house courtesy of Amazon shipping.  They played video games, watched movies, and cooked together.  They had shoot outs (with Nerf guns); I’m still finding little orange nerf bullets in the oddest places.  Mr. Garner was delighted to have his L5R (Legend of the Five Rings) buddy home, and of course there was the Dallas playoff game.  Ahem.  I’m just happy having him home.

Just a few photos:

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