The Twelve Days of Christmas

I have been spending about a day a week cutting and splitting firewood from the many downed trees around the farm this Fall and early Winter. It is quite a chore just keeping up with the demand for nightly fireplace fires (and all day fires on the weekends). Thank goodness for my log splitter.

It is one of the most helpful tools on the farm. Of course, as soon as I drive out with it, Charles and Thomas come running down to help. They love pushing the lever to split huge 2’+ diameter logs. Soon though, they are distracted by their imaginations and begin climbing all over the fallen tree. I have begun teaching Charles to drive the tractor.

However, his feet cannot yet reach the pedals so he steers while I do everything else.

Neely has been spending a great deal of time this Advent knitting. I was interested to watch her spinning a ball from a new skein of yarn.

Looks dizzying, but I guess it works for her.

Being Advent, ‘tis the season for Christmas pageants. The weekend before Christmas was the Children’s Pageant at St. Stephen’s in Richmond. While preparing to leave, Thomas came to me with his hair awkwardly slicked down and told me, “I combed my hair so it would be neat. I want God to think I look nice for Church.”

Neely has sadly aged out of the Children’s Pageant, but Charles and Thomas were excited. Thomas graduated to being a lamb.

Charles was very pleased to be the Innkeeper this year.

He was not thrilled about having to stand through the entire pageant, but he persevered and did his duty well.

We also picked up our Christmas tree on the way out of town from (where else) Whole Foods. This tree experience was the best one ever. All of them were pretty much the same, so there was no tedious, endless search for the perfect tree, and while we shopped inside, the attendant wrapped our tree with netting and trimmed the trunk. All we had to do was pull up in front of the store while he tied it to the roof of the van and off we went. Effortless. Knowing we would not be putting the tree up until Christmas Eve, I deposited it into a bucket outside the back door when we returned home.

On the 24th, Knox helped me set up the stand and I dragged the tree into the house. Neely and Charles and Thomas were all eager to decorate.

It turned out beautifully and no one got crushed beneath a falling tree this year.

Excitement was in the air Christmas morning. The kids’ anticipation was palpable. Ransacking stockings was the first order of business while waiting for Molly to get downstairs.

Even Elouise enjoyed her stocking.

I was so very lucky to receive a hand knit sweater from my daughter. I proudly donned my new favorite sweater and it was a perfect fit, so cozy and warm. It is like being hugged by my daughter every time I wear it.

My parents and brother joined us that morning and stayed through Christmas dinner. The day was very pleasant and peaceful. Another blessed and wonderful holiday on the farm.

A few days later, we journeyed up the coast to Delaware for a long weekend with Molly’s parents and her brother’s visiting family. Of course, neighbor Julia dropped by to see everyone. The visit has been packed with many activities, one of which was ice skating down by the Riverfront. The cousins enjoyed going around and around together and all were very sweet to help out young Thomas on his skates.

Charles’ bat-out-of-hell personality was on full display as he fearlessly careened across the ice barreling into the boards on every side of the rink.

Having a few days rest from farm chores has been really enjoyable, though my thoughts are still with the work at hand and wondering when a call will come in that the animals are rampaging across the countryside. The warm fires, delicious food and great hospitality are a welcome distraction.

I hope everyone is enjoying these days of Christmas and that life is as full of joy and merriment as is ours. Merry Christmas to all! I hope to see you early in the new year.

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Christopher Oakey

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