Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Christmas 2009 - Part 1

Ah, Christmastime.

We just had a wonderful Christmas break. In addition to being out of school, I was able to take a few days off between Christmas and New Years so we could all spend some good fun quality time together.

So…what did our Christmas gauntlet involve?

In early December, we made a trip out to Temple Square to see the lights. It was bitter cold so we didn't actually wander the entire square before the kids were freezing and begging for a break. As it normally is, Temple Square was beautiful.
My memory could be incorrect, but it seems like this was the first time they had the Joseph/Mary/Jesus nativity set up on the reflecting pond. It was gorgeous.

Once the kids were thoroughly frozen, we stopped into the Joseph Smith building and got some hot chocolate (molten chocolate, actually…as was discovered by the kids by burning their tongues *ouch*) and a brief warm up before walking up to the Cathedral of the Madeline for a Christmas concert by the Salt Lake Children's Choir. The two girls that Jason carpools with to school were in the concert…otherwise we might not have known about it.

The concert was amazing. There were a couple of more "familiar carols" but many/most of the songs were old religious hymns, some in English, many in Latin. The children (ranging from ~7-teens?) had amazing voices. The acoustics in the Cathedral were fabulous and even though the choir was relatively small (~20 kids singing at a time), the sound was marvelous.

The Cathedral itself is gorgeous. The masonry outside is awesome. The artwork on the walls, windows, etc. is amazing. Overall, this is a gorgeous church. It provided great opportunities to point out beautiful architecture and art to the kids. It also allowed us to discuss practices of other religions. We sat right next to the confessionals and they were curious as to what that was all about. They also wondered about the prayer candles we passed on the way to the bathroom. It was cool to explain some of those things to them.

A few days later, we took the kids shopping down at the University Mall to check out the Disney Store for gift ideas. We also took advantage of the drive to stop in at Pirate Island Pizza. The kids loved the pirate themed decorations throughout the restaurant. They really went all out to make you feel like you were on a pirate island. From stone walls, caves, skeletons, pirate ships, torches and all the servers in costume, it was truly an immersive experience.

The food was reasonably priced and tasted pretty good. The arcade was tucked far enough away that we didn't have too much trouble ensuring that the kids ate their food before running off to play. The arcade was really busy (it was a Saturday night) which caused some anxiety as the kids each took off in different directions, but we quickly managed to get everybody together again. Jason did great at one game involving a ball dropping into holes with specific point values…he hit the jackpot time and again and ended up with hundreds of tickets. I was impressed by their shooting gallery. Not only was it well themed to the pirates, but the guns were well sited and worked well (unlike similar shooting galleries I've played).

The kids each handed in their tickets for some fun pirate swag. Lynette saw a cute pirate finger puppet and had to hit some more games to earn enough tickets to pick him up. On the way out, they also had a gift shop that we wandered for a few minutes. There were some great pirate themed trinkets that I'm going to have to go and look at again in the future.

Jason's class put on a Christmas program. It was short notice for me so I didn't get to attend, but Lynette caught some pictures and video of his "Little Drummer Boy" performance.

The weekend before Christmas we had our ward Christmas breakfast. It was nice to hang out with neighbors and eat a nice meal. The kids were excited for the "special guest" who arrived after we ate. At least, they were supposedly excited. As Santa walked in, Jason and Andrew were suddenly nowhere to be seen. Julia was very excited and was actually the first one on his lap. But the boys were too busy running around and having fun with the neighborhood kids…they didn't even want to come say HI to Santa.

A few days before Christmas, we took the kids up to Ogden to see the decorated houses in Santa's Village. It's a Christmas tradition from Lynette's family that she's proudly instituted in ours. It was a lot of fun and the kids loved looking at the hilariously decorated little houses. (our camera died before we got pictures of the houses, but we did get a picture of Andrew playing 'king of the hill' on the huge snow pile next to our car)

(and now, I take a break from a lengthy post...the rest of Christmas will be continued in the next post)

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