Friday, December 21, 2012

You're never too old...

for all the fun Christmas traditions...including GINGERBREAD houses!! 

Do you remember making these (back in the day), with graham crackers, milk cartons, candy and edible glue (frosting) to hold everything together? We'll, our little houses are just as fun and yummy!

The preparation began several weeks ago when I gathered some precut gingerbread houses from a lovely lady at our church who cuts thousands....yes, THOUSANDS of these, every year for a local gingerbread house charitable event. I asked her to save me some for my special group at church, and she did! I went to her house to pick up precisely prepped graham crackers, precut foam blocks (for the inside) and a couple gallons of gooey white frosting!

Then I gathered up all kinds of candy, pretzels and other house decor-worthy goodies, loaded up the car, and headed to church. Naturally, it was the first snowy morning of the winter. But neither rain nor sleet, nor scary weatherman warnings, can keep a group of eager women away from their appointed gingerbread house assembly!

I volunteer in a women's ministry that meets with a group of Spanish speaking ladies every month. These ladies attend their children's elementary school (where our church has a partnership) every morning for their own English class. We get together monthly to hang out. We eat and chat and do projects, giving them an encouraging place to practice their language skills. And some of us reckless souls practice our (sometimes hilarious) Spanish skills!

After our excellent church lady lunch (the spaghetti casserole was a huge hit) we got to work on house construction. I showed the ladies how to glue their 4 walls and roof together, then the real fun began! Every year they amaze me with their creativity, using candy in ways I would never envision!

My good friend Connie (an excellent Spanish speaker) is standing behind, because she is craft-challenged! I promised her she would NOT have to make her own house.

Young Alvaro joined us, and he and his Mom have their finished little houses (cassitas) packed and ready for the short trip home. Alvaro LOVED this activity. He also speaks perfect English, so was a helpful translator.

Here is the whole happy gang, proudly showing off our tasty little gingerbread community. I'm on back row, far left in the green shirt. Yes, I made a house, but it wasn't a creative masterpiece.

BTW - just in case you're wondering - here is the Spanish translation for "gingerbread houses".
Casitas (small houses) de galletas (cookies) de jengibre (ginger). 

In the midst of our busy Christmas preparations, this time together was a real blessing for all. We ended our time with lots of hugs and familiar greetings...Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm joining bloggers across the country today to pause and remember Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N Wyatt, Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Nancy Lanza, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto. 

Please join me in taking some extra time to ponder the small ways we can each bring more peace into the world, during such a sorrowful time. 

We hold our children's hands for awhile, but their hearts forever.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it Christmas already?

For the Ebright clan, it's DONE! We all met in KC last weekend and had an early family get-together.  Well, not ALL of us...that's a humongous number of Ebrights...but Alan and all of his siblings and better halves. Alan is 3rd gray-haired guy (they all have gray hair) in back row. He's the baby of the 5 sibs!

Are you noticing that Christmas traditions and celebrations have to evolve as your kids get older? The word of the holiday is now FLEXIBLE, as you try to accommodate in-laws, babies (darn, none here!) and all that. Chatting with some of my girlfriends, I realize these adjustments can be tricky (very tricky sometimes). But I am determined to be available whenever it works, and go with the (new) holiday flow. 

Since Alan's parents are no longer here to host us on the family farm, Alan's siblings have made an effort to get everyone together...if only briefly, and not on the real date. It's casual, lasts only a day, and it's really fun! Most of the gang lives in KC so we make the 3 hour drive north. We ate, talked, watched a ballgame, and enjoyed each other's company all day, sans kids and grandkids. 

Later that afternoon, we welcomed whatever kids and grandkids were able to join us. As darkness closed in we did our annual Ebright caroling. Alan's family has been doing this FOREVER...just check out the vintage family picture below. Don't they look positively Rockwell-esque? Alan is the grinner on the bottom right.

Here are a few of our caroling clan this year. I'm taking style advice from Santa, wearing my red pants!

After caroling, we settled in for an outdoor hotdog/s'more roast.

We also welcomed the newest member of the family. His older boy cousins are chatting him up below.

Thanks to Alan's sisters for organizing this and pulling it off.  The 5 Ebright siblings have certainly gotten older, but never too old for a funny face photo!