I still can’t believe Advent is past and we are into the days of Christmas. In spite of the 4 weeks to anticipate it, I didn’t feel ready. Even the boys commented that this Advent passed really quickly. But pass it did.
We put up our Christmas tree later than in America, though a bit early for here. Since getting it home requires carrying it rather than putting it on top of the car, it was smaller this year than in years past. It was also missing lights this year, since I didn’t really come across any in a store. Still, it was fun adding the familiar ornaments we brought from home. We added a new ornament for our first Christmas in Vienna. We reminded the boys how when they were babies we would put them under the Christmas tree to look at the lights and play with the ornaments. Jack, Gabriel and Sebastian decided to try it again.
The Saturday before Christmas we went to a Christingle service at church. They were each given a red candle placed in an orange with a red ribbon around it. Out of the orange were four sticks with good things to eat. We sang this song explaining what all the things stood for:
It’s rounded like an orange,
this earth on which we stand;
and we praise the God who holds it
in the hollow of his hand.
A candle, burning brightly,
can cheer the darkest night,
and these candles tell how Jesus came
to bring a dark world light.
The ribbon round the orange,
reminds us of the cost;
how the shepherd, strong and gentle,
gave his life to save the lost.
Four seasons with their harvest
supply the food we need,
and the Spirit gives a harvest
that can make us rich indeed.
We come with our Christingles
to tell of Jesus’ birth
and we praise the God who blessed us
by His coming to this earth.
So Father, we would thank you
for all that you have done,
and for all that you have given us
through the coming of your Son.
The boys had school through December 23, but they had fun things there as well. Jack went with his class to see the movie Heidi. Isaac and Stephen went to the Christmas market near the Rathaus. I gave them €10 to share and told them not to feel compelled to spend it all. They got what they thought was ice-cream (though it turned out to be a marshmallow stuff instead) and cotton candy. They brought home 20 cents. Gabriel’s class participated with some other classes in his school and did a Christmas program. Sebastian made Adam and me a picture frame in kindergarten. Jack and Gabriel sewed Christmas tea towels for their teachers. Jack also made rubber band bracelets for his classmates.
We were all happy to not have to get up and out the door early on Christmas Eve, though the door bell rang at 7:15 when the postman delivered the last of the Christmas presents. We finished up the last minutes grocery shopping since the groceries would be closed early on Christmas Eve and remain closed until Monday since Saturday they were closed for Saint Stephen’s and they are always closed on Sundays. Adam gave me a gift card for a new watch, so I went up to Mariahilferstrasse and picked one out. We all went to a park near the house for the boys to play and then came back and let the boys open their traditional Christmas Eve gift–matching pajamas. This year it was Star Wars. Adam also had gotten the Lord of the Rings Trilogy so we watched the first of them, though I confess to only staying awake for probably about half. Gabriel and Sebastian were also asleep before the end.
Christmas morning we were up early enough that we decided to go on to the 8:00 service at church. It was a small group (though we doubled the size of it) but a nice service. We came home and lit all the advent candles and the Christ candle and left them burning brightly all day. We opened presents. There were many nice things, though I am most excited about the memberships to places and trips planned for activities around Vienna. Because the refrigerated biscuits we use to make monkey bread aren’t readily available here and I went to sleep before mixing up dough to make it from scratch so it could rise overnight, we had pancakes for breakfast, which we ate around 12:15. The afternoon was spent playing with new presents and talking with family over Skype. Adam cooked a chicken and I made mashed potatoes and peas for supper. I took a nap in the hopes that perhaps I would stay awake through the next Lord of the Rings movie. It didn’t work.
The second day of Christmas we visited the Haus des Meeres which is within walking distance from our house. There we saw lots of fish as well as some enormous snakes, some birds, some insects, and monkeys which ran around freely around us. One even brushed by Gabriel’s hand. On the ninth floor there is a balcony that goes all the way around the building which provides a fantastic view of Vienna. Before we headed home we played at the play ground next to the Haus des Meeres. I made calzones for supper–our first since being in Vienna.
The third day of Christmas we went to a new friend’s house. I met her at the dress rehearsal for the nativity play since her daughter was a shepherd and we discovered that our twin boys were only about a month apart. She invited us for lunch at their house on the outer part of Vienna. We took a long ride in the UBahn and arrived just in time to catch the bus. The children took to each other very quickly and there was much running around inside and out, playing hide and seek and fighting with sticks (and of course before the day was out some video game playing). She and her husband treated us to our first ever Yorkshire pudding along with chicken and brussel sprouts and potatoes and carrots. The day passed quickly with the children playing and us talking. By supper time we decided we better get back. But we are meeting at the zoo next week (another Christmas present) and I think going back for a New Year’s Eve party. I am grateful for new friends. I was too busy talking to take pictures. Maybe next time.
This morning I made the monkey bread which I started last night. I didn’t have brown sugar, so it wasn’t quite the same, but the boys enjoyed it anyway. Today Adam went back to work. The boys and I spent most of the day at home except for a short trip to the park. A two bedroom apartment gets a bit noisy with five boys in all day. I do miss our yard in Alabama and the big trampoline. Tomorrow we will have to venture out again.
I’m not sure where to put these pictures, but they are too sweet to leave out.