In the boxes of decorations that we unearthed from under the stairs we discovered our wonderful collection of Christmas books and Christmas music. We have books that tell the story of the birth of Jesus and the journey Mary and Joseph had to make to Bethlehem; board books for Alice to discover the joys of Christmas, which Charlotte and Sophie gazed at in wonder when they were babies.
Some books are fun, others are educational. Some books tell the many traditions of Christmas around the world and the way different people celebrate. Other books are filled with wonderful craft ideas and scrumptious goodies to bake; whilst some books are magically illustrated with beautiful pop-up pictures and the lyrics to carols sung for hundreds of years.
This evening, with our tree already put up (which was supposed to be today’s task in our Advent Countdown, but we got carried away discovering the decorations yesterday!), we were all in high spirits. I have no idea where my children they get their energy from (must be something they put in the water over here, or in the air they breath!), but they were full of it and an old fashioned sing-along and stories was just the tonic.
The singing was very rousing and I completely forgot the time (normally I’m a serious clock watcher on school nights). It’s only two weeks till the end of term and the long, light evenings and approach of the Summer Solstice beg us to play late, whilst the heat of the day forces us to seek shade and rest. Mid-day naps are wonderful and really should be made mandatory in summer (so I keep wishfully telling my children!).
Anyway, back to the music… We sung some of my favourite carols from my childhood and I love to see my children’s enthusiasm for learning them and singing with a full heart.
I have fond memories of standing on a railway platform, with my school choir, singing to the grey faced commuters arriving off the evening train from London. Let me take a little trip down memory lane, along with the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop (the theme this week is ‘Let’s Get Lyrical!‘).
The commuters stepped off the train, shrouded in bulky coats, with their necks tucked down into their collars and chins hidden in a scarf. Hats were habitually pulled down over ears as they disembarked with briefcases in hand. Eyes were downcast, too exhausted to make eye contact and too weary for conversation. The platform, though gritted, would sometimes have the occasional icy patch, and the night air bit with a warning to tread carefully.
I could see the weariness in their shoulders and shivered in the winter air.
Then my teacher started to count. She raised her hands to conduct us in a unified beat. There was a sudden shift in the mood at the station. A warm glow cast its spell on those grey faces and I realised, in an instant, that the source of that warmth was from the very breath of our hearts pelting out the sweet Christmas hymns of old.
Eyes lifted to meet our young faces. Our cheeks were rosy red in sweet defiance of the biting cold. Our lips so eager to sound out every note. We wriggled our toes in our sock bound feet and school shoes, warding off any numbness. Each breath we inhaled was tainted with the darkness of winter, but every exhalation felt like a warm light sent from the heavens. Sweet notes filled the air and lifted the spirits of the commuters.
‘O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.’
As the crescendo rose, so too did the smiles on those grey faces. The joy was contagious and poured forth colour into their cheeks richer than any wine. When I sing Christmas carols now I always remember that uplifting feeling. The ‘mp’, ‘mf’ and ‘f’ written on the music manuscript hold so much power, like a key that can unlock the very spirit and free it from all woes.
It was close to 8.30pm by the time the children were asleep in our house tonight, but hey ho, they shall have sweet happy dreams. They should be exhausted!
Last night we were woken at 2.30pm with Sophie asking if it was time for her school visit (which went very well). It took her over an hour to drift back off to sleep. She then woke up at 6.00am! Alice woke with the noise and got so excited to hear her sister’s voice. Charlotte didn’t wake us, but sounded terrible in the night with hay-fever making her breathing laboured and sinuses troubled.
So, sweet dreams we hope tonight 🙂
Pop on over to Sleep is for the Weak to read what songs or lyrics have inspired other blog posts in the Writing Workshop this week.
Click the button to see what other Christmas activities we’ve been getting up to on our Christmas Countdown!