I was going to spend today rehashing the biggest and best of 2012 here at Casa de Daniel.  Then I heard about this guy who swam 1001 miles down the Missouri this summer and suddenly anything we did paled in comparison.


And really?  Anything worth noting has already been written here save for the last few weeks.  What with the normal holiday whirlwind and other drama, the memories from the end of December have piled up and collected, waiting for their moment.

Tonight’s the night!

Well, for Christmas anyway . . .

Again, I was taken off guard during a mundane task at how I was missing California Christmas.  And then, just like that, the ache faded and I sank into being at home.  There is wonderful comfort here, too, and we soaked it up.  Cookie trays to friends and neighbors (never done for just OURS), slow and steady decorating, shopping for siblings down town in the festivities.  There was a lot of fun to be had.

Prayer was good, too.  There were loads of people in need of it and we sought the Lord earnestly and often.  The needs of others was real in a way that has been lacking before.  We were anxious around our Advent wreath – not just for the flames or Jesus to come but for those we knew and loved who needed God to move in big ways.

We spoke of, asked for and learned hope this season.

Then, almost before we knew it, it was the 24th and we sewed (all done before naps!) and wrapped gifts like mad.  Grandma and Grandpa hosted tamales and rice and beans and it was so very good to be with ALL the cousins.  We ate until we were stuffed and hurried home to change for Mass.  Thanks in large part to Mama Syd, we were one classy looking bunch.  (And aside – I removed Gemma’s pig tails so I could re-comb her hair but Jac and I both got distracted.  My horror upon looking down the pew – 5th from the front, thankyouverymuch- and seeing her hair sticking out every-which-way but down, was complete and total.  THIS is how God keeps me humble.) Max served with the big boys (really, the tallest Cathedral has . . . ) and I’m pretty sure my heart broke with pride to see him with his white gloves serving the Bishop so calmly.  It wasn’t hard to undo me, as I had wept listening to the prelude of REJOICE! and then again to see the candlelight reflected on the solemn and handsome faces of the highschool servers.

This, the pomp, the glory, the beauty of it all, this is what I wanted to give my children.  The wonder in their eyes said they received it.

Tess bore a candle in the procession and Gemma fought sleep all through Mass.  The Bishop spoke in a broken voice of us being a privileged people to behold God-made-man and welcome him into our hearts. I smiled and cried again and thanked God for the miracle of it all.

We stayed long after the liturgy was over and most everyone had left.  But it was so good to see all of the returned folks and catch up and give hugs.  Finally, Fr. Mike turned out the lights and shooed us towards home.  The ringing ‘Merry Christmas’es through the cold night air with pure joy was glorious.

Did I mentioned it was snowing?


Because the kids didn’t get to bed until 1 am, we were able to beat them out to the living room and have cameras ready.  It was calm and lovely and loud and crazy all at once.  The stockings were a hit, Tess loved the American Girl Doll, Ellie rocked out in her new snow boots and microphone set, and the boys hunkered down with their books.  Meanwhile, Gemma ate all the candycanes she could find and went right back to bed for a nap.  Christmas or not, she had her priorities straight.

We hosted Christmas dinner (a first!) and hustled to shower and prep before everyone arrived. Note to self: double check there is toilet paper in the house when 14 people will be in it.  It’s a problem to run out on Christmas . . .  Jason played the piano while the wine mulled (a verb?  I’m unsure . . . ) and the cousins played.  The brisket was delicious and we all pulled together a croquembouche for dessert. (NOT perfect – sugar a little on the burnt side and I am still nursing an inch long blister on my index finger from boiling lava hot caramel. Oh what fun!) After presents and clean up we all watched the Muppets Christmas Carol before everyone returned home and we put our feet up.

It was all we had hoped for and more. God is good. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

Check ya later, 2012.  Come on in, ’13!