I guess it's time to blog about the annual fireplace party.
When Ian was about 5 months old we started an annual tradition. That summer we had moved to a home that had a fireplace. We decided to all sleep in front of the fireplace on the 23rd of December that first year as a fun activity. We told the kids we were going to have a "fireplace party." Elisa would have been about 7 at the time, Sarah 5, and Emma 2 I think. We pulled some mattresses out into the living room and pushed some chairs together to make little beds and voila.....Christmas Adam was born.
I have no idea who named it Christmas Adam as the years went on but somebody did. It is now jokingly referred to as Christmas Adam by many. We do it the day before Christmas Eve, hence the name.
That first year, I distinctly remember nursing Ian in the middle of the night on the mattress I was lying on. Jim had gone outside in the bitter cold to get more wood for the fire. As he was coming in quietly to put more wood on the fire so it wouldn't go out, he dropped a log on my leg as I was nursing. Some memories stick with you. :)
The first year was a success and the kids could not wait for the fireplace party every year thereafter. They would start claiming their spots by putting out their blankets, stuffed animals and books at about 5:00 in the afternoon as soon as it got dark. I remember reading "Strega Nona" by Tomie dePaola to them for several years running. It is about an Italian grandma of sorts in a small Italian village close to where my ancestors are from. It talked about Italian traditions similar to my own. We all enjoyed that book.
When the kids got older, they needed a longer book. One year I read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson. That is one of the all time great Christmas books. It is about the Herdman family and it is hilarious. We never tire of hearing that story. It takes about an hour or so to read. To this day, we still read that story. "Hey, unto you a child is born!" It never gets old. :)
Our fireplace parties have evolved over the years. We've added friends, (Chris called just the other day and asked if he could come again), fiances, and then spouses. People still claim spots but the reading and the party don't really commence until later in the evening. By that time the mattresses are out, the wheat thins, triscuits, easy cheese and peanut M&M's are also out. The kitchen is usually a disaster by then because of all the Christmas baking and we have sung Christmas carols to the nth degree. No one wants to miss the fireplace party. When we worked with an architect to design our current house, we told him of this tradition as being core to our family. He designed us a pretty big fireplace to fit the bill. We no longer need wood in this fireplace, just the flick of a switch does it but it still anchors us like an old fashioned fireplace.
I suspect we will one day have grandchildren who will be with us on the 23rd as the years go on as well. Emma is pretty sick today and I suggested she might want to miss this year's party but she said, "But Mom, it's the Fireplace Party."
We'll miss Ian this year. I can lay on his mattress without being chastised for once. Oh how we'll miss him.
Traditions bind people together. Families need traditions. Even silly ones like Christmas Adam. It doesn't matter if people sleep terribly the entire night. It doesn't matter if you get logs dropped on your legs. It doesn't matter if the house is a DISASTER the next morning and there are M&M's everywhere. It doesn't matter that some people who shall not be named manage to fall asleep every year in the middle of the story only to wake up for the crucial moment to exclaim loudly..."Hey, unto you a child is born!" Our family can be found in front of the fireplace every year on the 23rd of December.
It's who we are. It's what we do. It binds us together. :)
I have taken many pictures over the years. Usually I take the pictures early in the morning while everyone is still asleep. They are not really flattering for anyone and probably not post-able but I posted these few anyway. Hopefully Jim will forgive me but that picture of Ian looking at him as if to say, "Dad, please wake up" just was too typical not to post. :)
This means I have just two more days
to get everything ready for Christmas.
I'll never be ready. :)