Sunday, December 28, 2008

Still Christmas

We are still in the middle of the whole Christmas thing and still have 2 weeks to go. (Sorry, Danny, but our tree isn't coming down for a while).

We loved the Christmas Eve service at church. It seems we are never home on Christmas, so we really appreciated it. We might just insist that Christmas Eve and Day are set aside for our kids after this.

We had a very different Christmas Day. Jerald didn't feel very good all day, so after some yummy cinnamon rolls, I took the kids to see "Bedtime Stories". It was light-hearted and fun, but also had a good message. We came home and had Chicken Fajitas and played Pictionary.

The next day, we went to Indiana for Christmas with Jerald's family. His mom has MS pretty bad and isn't really able to do a whole lot anymore. We are wondering how much longer we can stay at their house. We came home Saturday night.

Next weekend is Christmas with my mom; the highlight of the whole time will culminate on Sunday afternoon when we pick Adam up at the Cincy airport. His 19th birthday was yesterday. We talked with him on Friday; I asked him if he was ready to come home. His reply? Yes & no, mostly no.

Two weeks from yesterday will end our Christmas celebrations. I know I will be ready to get everything put away and be back on a normal schedule, but until then I will enjoy the time with my husband and kids.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Season

Even though I start feeling a teensy bit of stress at everything that needs to be accomplished right now, I still enjoy this time of year. It's a time of being at home as much as possible, baking with my girls and listening to Christmas music. (My favorites right now are Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Fernando Ortega). The secret for me is to look ahead about 4 weeks in my planner and list all the food for various family get-togethers that needs to be made and plan accordingly. Everything possible goes in the freezer.

Jerald and I always take a weekend in early December and go to another city to Christmas shop. It's nice to be able to talk openly (versus secret code) about what we need to buy and order, and I always love his input. Plus the hotel and eating out are nice little amenities!

This week, we are putting as much in the freezer as we can. Brooke made tons of cookies for a couple gatherings, I made a cheesecake for Jerald's work Christmas and various candies (fudge, buckeyes, cream cheese candies). I'm also helping my mom get some food in her freezer for the family Christmas of 40+ brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc. Next week will be more of the same, plus finish shopping and wrapping.

We are going to Indiana the day after Christmas for Jerald's family Christmas. I have all the gifts bought and wrapped for that except one and that one is up to Jerald. Our tradition for dinner is tacos. Jerald's mom has MS and is no longer able to get around very well, so we are going to his brother's for the actual dinner and gifts. My contribution for the meal is appetizers, wassail, cookies and candy.

My family Christmas is always the New Year's weekend, Friday night to Sunday, although some don't come until Sat. My mom's house isn't big enough for everyone to stay there, so I host some of the family here (most are from out-of-state). Interestingly enough, we also have a tradition of tacos for dinner Saturday night. (It's simply amazing how different something like tacos can taste). On Sunday, we have a baked potato bar. My mom usually takes care of the Friday night supper by herself, but I'm helping with that this year. It's been soup and apple dumplings for a very long time.

Adam doesn't get home from Africa until January 4th, so Christmas with our kids will be the following weekend, Jan. 9th & 10th. The eve before gifts, we have snacky-type foods and play games together. The next day we have a hearty breakfast, gifts and a tradition of fondue for dinner.

On top of Christmas, we also have some birthdays to work in: Adam-Dec. 27th and Colin-Jan. 2nd. I usually let the kids choose their favorite meal; they range from roast beef & mashed potatoes to chicken fajitas.

One day at a time, sweet Jesus.
That's all I'm asking from you.
Just give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord, help me today, show me the way, one day at a time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mind Your Manners

With all of the family gatherings, holiday get-togethers and Christmas dinners approaching, it might be necessary to focus on dinner table manners with our families.

Mealtimes in the Yost home have always been an important part of our day. It is the time of the day when we sit down as a family and connect with one another. To make that hour as pleasant as possible, we spent a season when the kids were little reminding them of acceptable mealtime behavior.

We've all spent time sitting across a table with children who were eating like cavemen. They couldn't sit still, they slurped, they used their fingers, they interrupted, they reached, and yes, sometimes burped. This type of conduct was totally unacceptable when I was a child.

Somewhere along the line, I'm afraid we've forgotten to teach our kids the polite way to eat. We figured that once they had mastered picking up food themselves and getting it in their mouths instead of their hair, our job was finished. It could partly be because as a culture, we've made dinner a casual affair.

Families used to eat dinner together, and not just once a week, but the majority of the evenings. Today, because of schedules, we sit down, we inhale, we get up. Studies show that eating together as a family has awesome benefits. Teens who eat dinner with their families at least five times a week are less likely to do drugs or be depressed, and are more likely to do well in school. (Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse) Kids who never eat with their parents are 60% more likely to smoke or drink. It only makes sense that dinner is one of those opportunities to be together and actually talk. Kids internalize the message of Christ when they see us together as a family and living it out. Eating together provides a time to talk with our kids about their day. It gives us opportunity to keep up with what they are thinking and doing.

So now that we have established the necessity of a family mealtime, wouldn't it be more enjoyable if our children knew how to act properly at the table? It starts with setting the table. Even the youngest can be taught the proper way to set a place setting. Train them to do it properly. I know it seems like a minor detail, but it's the beginning of decorum. If it helps, draw the outlines of the plate, cup, knife, spoon and fork on paper and laminate it. They will feel really important at being able to do this on their own. Moms, if you don't know yourself, google it. :) Napkins are a vital piece of an enjoyable meal. Teach your kids to use it instead of their sleeves! Other important etiquette rules are elbows off the table, please chew with your mouth shut, sit still in your chair, no eating with fingers, use utensils properly, take turns speaking. It's a time to learn to listen quietly when another person is speaking.

This might all seem like a small piece of a child's training, but it pertains to respect, honor and courtesy. It will carry over to other areas of their lives.

When children sit at dinner respectfully, the time together is more enjoyable for everyone. It will take consistency, discipline and patience, but the dividends will be worth it. Just ask your relatives who may have to eat with your barbaric offspring at the next Christmas dinner.