Andreas_Johann_Jacob_Müller_-_The_Christ_Child_-_Walters_37178After Christmas Eve Mass, I brought out Christmas baking for the first time with candles and a statue of Mary on the table. After our celebration, we put Baby Jesus in his crib and struggled to settle little people in bed.

Early Christmas morning we heard the first signs of movement.  It was still dark outside, way too early for my husband and I since we had worked on Christmas Eve set up till 2:00 am. We couldn't even pry our eyes open, but we were smiling with contentment as we listened to the excited whispers and giggles of the  youngest children.

They made their way down the front stairs. One of the older kids had intertwined multi-coloured lights. around the banister. First the trio ducked into the formal living room to see the presents for the first time and special candy canes on the tree. In our old farm-house, our bedroom was right above the kitchen and we had left the kitchen back stairs door open. Suddenly an excited gasp of awe escaped their lips as they gazed in wonder around the transformed kitchen.

A gingerbread house, created at night when the kids were sleeping sat in the centre of the table with a fruit bowl, dishes of candies, nuts and, best of all, sugar cereal! The whole room was edged with coloured lights and Christmas towels, tablecloth, napkins, pot holders with bright red ribbons on all the door handles.

One  year, a friend at Madonna House asked Alison what her favorite thing about Christmas was and she said, "The pineapple!". Her answer shocked Martha, but I was simply pleased. I understood that children notice and appreciate the small things. No detail escapes them.

When a few of the oldest kids were in their mid to late teens, friends would ask to come over and set up on Christmas Eve with us. They would cart presents downstairs,  arrange them, help fill 11 stockings and hang lights. They were intrigued by our large family with all the hustle and bustle and activity. It was never boring at our house. The teens craved the joy and excitement of creating magic for kids who did not receive many frills during the rest of the year. I think they also craved the sense of stability, of a family grounded in the old-fashioned values of mutual love and respect.

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Copyright 2014 Melanie Jean Juneau